{Jon Acuff} Bringing Dinner Back Week #11 ~ The Warning

Jon AcuffWeek 11 of the dinner challenge is here! We are on the home stretch of our commitment to eat dinner together. After weeks of talking about lessons I’ve learned at the table, I thought it might be good to talk about something a little different.

How to get your family to the table.

What we learned: Everyone needs a two-minute warning.

It’s fun to talk about the beautiful things that can happen when you sit around the table. The laughter, the lessons, the moments of family connectedness you might miss otherwise if you don’t eat dinner together. But how do you get your family to the table?

If your family is at all like mine, you tend to scatter like a shotgun shell when you get home. My oldest daughter goes to do homework. My youngest daughter colors with crayons in another room. I sit somewhere with a laptop and my wife thinks through the meal for the night.

It would be great if the phrase “Dinner’s ready” was magical and instantly transported everyone to their seat at the table. But sometimes that doesn’t work. My kids lollygag. They drag their heals and say, “My show’s almost over.” Or “I’m almost done with this Wii game.” Or “Let me finish reading this chapter of Proverbs.” (OK, I made that last one up. That list was feeling a little too electronic, felt like it needed something that made me look like a better parent.)

Sometimes, the slowest one to the dinner table is me. I want to wrap up an email or finish checking the score of a game online or do a million other things that distract me from sitting down with the family. So what do we do at the Acuff house to combat that?

We call out a “two-minute warning.” Named after the last two minutes in a football half, the two-minute warning is just our way of saying, “You’ve got two minutes until dinner. Finish up whatever you’re doing and then get to the table.”

That might sound really simple or perhaps even silly, but I promise you, the two-minute warning is worth its weight in gold. Kids (and sometimes husbands named Jon Acuff) aren’t great at making instant transitions. Whether you’re about to leave the playground or about to start dinner, they need a heads up that one event is coming to an end and another is beginning.

Want to increase your chances of getting the whole family to the table at the same exact time? Don’t just call out the vague and shapeless “dinner’s ready” which is open to interpretation by everyone who hears it.

Call out, “Two-minute warning till dinner.”

It works. I promise.

Our favorite E-Mealz meal of the week.

This week was a wash. Everything we own is in boxes. The crockpot is packed. The pans are packed. Most of the clothes are packed too. Tomorrow is official moving day so this last week has been about sandwiches and realizing that everything you need is at the other house already. So we didn’t shop or cook. We packed. Like machines. But I eagerly look forward to cooking our first E-Mealz meal in our new house next week!

Our dinner record for the week.

We went 4 for 7 this week. I was in Portland and then Greenville, Illinois speaking to a group of college students. I’m not traveling at all next week though so expect me to go out with a bang, 7 for 7 is what I’m aiming for.

How about you?

How many nights this week did you eat dinner with your family? Did you beat me?

What was your favorite E-Mealz meal?

Have you ever done a two-minute warning?

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5 thoughts on “{Jon Acuff} Bringing Dinner Back Week #11 ~ The Warning

  1. Julie Gumm

    My husband is just like you, usually the last one to the table. I try to combat it by doing the ole “Hun, can you come help me dish up” thing. By the time he gets in I’m half way done but at least he’s there and then we give the kids the 2 minute warning and by the time they’re at the table, everything is ready.

    1. Judith Barber

      That is sentimental for us… that is the hymn we still sing to this day as our blessing when we are all gathered for a family dinner at our parent’s house. Sweet.

  2. Cassie

    We had a similar problem until my MIL bought us an iron dinner bell. I give that rope a good tug and it’s loud. All 6 kids plus husband come fast. If anyone lollygags, then the gong sounds again. 🙂 We eat supper as a family every night unless baseball games put us together on a bench. If I’ve had my act together in the day, I make my e-mealz and put it in a picnic basket and pass it around the bleachers to my kids. The other parents get to smell it while we eat and their hot dog doesn’t look so great anymore. Call it free advertisement. Our hardest part has been doing our 40 day Lent devotions each night as part of our meal.

    1. Judith Barber

      What an inventive and wise MIL you have! You have proven that family dinner can remain a priority even in the middle of baseball season. (Devotions in the bleachers is free advertisement for Lent:)

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