It's 5:30 p.m. Soon it will be time for us all to enjoy dinner as a family. A time to reflect on our day and appreciate each other and the the meal before us.
Oh wait, that scenario is from a Lifetime television movie and does not accurately reflect what is happening at my house.
Here there is whining about the food being served, glasses of spilled milk, a toddler who need to pee the second you sit down, and conversations that involve excruciating detail about Minecraft.
In an attempt to make this a more beneficial time, I have come up with ways of making dinner a pleasant experience for everyone. Milk will still get spilled and moans about what's being served will be inevitable, but at least we'll be planting the seeds of meaningful communication and togetherness in our children.
Here are some of our dinner routines.
A Family Memories box: I've never been good at keeping up with baby book, so we have a box containing index cards near the table where we write down memories from our day. They can be big memories like losing a tooth, or something small like a trip to the park or a funny kid quote.
Ask Questions: Instead of simply asking, "How was your day?" I find we get more out of the conversation by asking specific questions. A friend of mine suggested asking everyone at the table how they helped someone that day, which I love. We also ask the kids to tell everyone one thing they learned that day since a general question about school will usually just result in a shoulder shrug.
Name Three Things: My oldest son has a way of dwelling on every instance in his day where he was not 100% happy. I started telling him that he could not tell us any more bad things about his day until he told us three good things. This turns the conversation around for everybody as we all recall the good parts of our day.
Lifetime TV can keep its perfectly scripted family dinners. This perfectly imperfect time of day might suit me just fine.