Week 7 of the dinner challenge is here! I don’t know about you, but I’ve loved being deliberate about dinner and seeing what really happens when we sit down as a family on purpose. A few weeks ago we talked about how dinner is a bucket. This week, I learned that sometimes dinner is a catapult too.
What we learned: Family meals create family momentum.
On most nights, my wife and I put our kids down to bed at 6:30 or 7:00. My work schedule allows me to spend some time with them after I get home and for the last few years this approach has really worked well for us. My friends often ask what’s the secret? How do we get our kids down to bed so early?
Simple, we’re awesome parents.
We’re perfect parents. We never make mistakes and our kids always clean their rooms and get straight A’s in school and have bright white teeth that will never need braces. Not really, but that’s often the assumption I make about every other parent in the world. They know some trick, they have some special formula, they’re perfect parents and I’m just Jon.
But the truth is, we don’t have a secret, we just have dinner.
When we eat dinner as a family, it gives the rest of the night an incredible sense of momentum. Dinner brings us to the table together and allows us to leave the table together. Dinner puts us all back on the same page and often catapults us into our next shared moment. Most nights that means an early bedtime for the kids. If we didn’t have dinner together, then the exhaustion of the day would catch up with my wife and I. We’d lose energy, we’d lose momentum and wrangling the kids to bed would be next to impossible.
On the nights when we don’t sit down as a family this is what happens. My seven year old eats leftovers and wants to play the Wii after she’s done. My wife eats something at the kitchen counter and returns a few phone calls. I heat up something quick and get sucked back into my laptop or my iPhone.
Eating dinner together helps prevent that. My kids know that after dinner we go to bed. It’s not an open loop, it’s just what happens “next.”
And your next might be completely different. We have a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old. Their bedtime will change as they get older. If you try to tell a teenager that it’s bedtime after dinner they will revolt. But maybe your “next” moment is a family game night or a homework check or whatever best fits your family. What you decide to do as a family isn’t the point. The point is you have a much greater chance of doing it if you start with dinner.
Because family meals create family momentum.
Our favorite E-Mealz meal of the week.
We’re doing the Publix Meal Plan right now. We sometimes buy the ingredients one week and make the meal the following week. Our favorite meal in the last week was the Brunch Casserole. As a family we’ve often done “breakfast supper” but this brought the whole thing to a delicious new level.
Our dinner record for the week.
We went 7 for 7 this week! And we’re on vacation right now so we’ll actually be eating dinner with my wife’s family for a few days. I should get bonus points for that.
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?
What does your family do after dinner?