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Mealtime Matters

Mealtime Matters

“I’m glad we eat together as a family,” my pre-teen daughter said as she served up a second helping. Her comment warmed my heart. I, too, love our shared moments around the table.

Sometimes they’re rushed as we squeeze in a meal before Wednesday night AWANA or some other obligation. But most often, they’re times of sweet fellowship as we experience life together.

Mealtimes provide a regular opportunity for us to touch base and talk about what’s going on in our everyday lives. Relationships blossom as we listen to each other’s hearts and respond with acceptance and love.

As parents, we equip ourselves to provide protection for our kids when we discuss interactions with friends, observe attitudes and listen to what’s important to them.

Here are some practical tips for creating memorable mealtimes:

  • Unplug

We are less distracted and more people-focused when our devices are turned off or stowed away from the table. Our family has a designated “phone basket” for use during meals.

  • Keep it relaxed

Cultivate an atmosphere of acceptance around the dinner table. This is a fabulous time to discuss issues important to our family and model respect as each person explains his or her opinion. When God’s Word and His grace are central, these discussions can build up the faith of those gathered there.

  • Facilitate conversation

The internet abounds with “conversation starters” – questions we can ask to get the proverbial ball rolling. (We recently bought a pack of napkins which had discussion questions printed on each napkin.) The best questions require more than yes or no answers and probe deeply into hearts, souls, and imaginations, and strengthen the friendships we share.

  • Make room for fun

Our kids love to tell their newest jokes and riddles during dinner. Sometimes we also craft impromptu stories around the table. One person starts out the story and sets the scene, then passes the baton to the next person, who adds his or her own ideas to the plot. It’s our family’s version of a choose-your-own adventure story.

  • Model healthy habits

From portion control and eating our veggies, to providing an example of good listening skills, mealtimes enable us to model habits our kids need to lead healthy lives.

  • Find your own rhythm

For many families, busy evening schedules prevent daily dinners at home. However, this doesn’t make meals together impossible. Through prayer and some creativity, each of us can find a routine that works for our family. Here are some ideas to think through:

  • Is it possible to shift dinner later in the evening to allow everyone time to get home?
  • Pick one night of the week as “family dinner night” and protect it like any other appointment on your calendar.
  • What about Saturday morning breakfast or Sunday lunch together?

Prioritizing mealtime togetherness is a priceless gift we can give to our families. It takes intentionality, wisdom and creativity, as well as some schedule boundary-setting, but the benefits certainly outweigh the effort.

How do you make room for family meals? What’s your favorite activity around the table?

By: Meredith Mills is a wife and mother to three inquisitive, adventurous, fun-loving kids. She loves finding Jesus in the everyday and is passionate about helping others experience Him, too. She blogs at www.DazzledByTheSon.com. Connect with her on Facebook at Dazzled By The Son and on Instagram and Twitter @DazzledByTheSon.

Join us at www.just18summers.com for our parenting blog each Monday-Friday and for info about the Just 18 Summers novel.

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