Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I am a young mama. With small children we are far from the life of cell phones, parties and dating. Our worries these days have to do with sleeping through the night, potty training and transitioning to the big kid bed. Big stuff, I tell ya.

One of our biggest challenges is meal times, dinner in specifically. Between begging Hannah to eat more than just rice, and not allowing Kate to intentionally drop her entire meal on the floor, things can get a little chaotic when the dinner bell rings.

That's why this article, "Powerful Nurturing", really struck home to me. I am sure you've gathered by now how inspiring Julie Beck is to me, so this article choice is really no surprise. The article printed in the December 2005 Ensign shares wonderful insight into the importance of family mealtimes.

She shared that everyone's presence at dinner time was "nonnegotiable". It was their family's time to be together and learn together. And, as she explained, it is the the mother's job to make that happen. She said, "mothers, who are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children, can be a powerful force for strengthening families when they use mealtimes to gather loved ones."

She later quoted her daughter about their family mealtimes. She said, "dinner in our home was not just an eating ritual, but a special time for the family to communicate and to share our thoughts and stories of the day. … We often sat together for over an hour as we savored the conversation as much as the food.”

As I've reflected on this article over the past few weeks and our family's mealtime rituals I have come up with a few things that have been helpful to us in experiencing a successful dinner time.

Prepare ahead of time: From the crock pot to freezer meals you never can be too far ahead of yourself as a mom. If I am really on my game, a weekly meal plan is made ahead of time and dinner is started in the afternoon. I have learned from the mother-in-law that you can cook many things ahead of time that still taste yummy. Every time I prepare a batch of spaghetti sauce or taco meat, I do enough for another meal and stick it in the freezer.

Ask for help: Enlist your children in helping. For my age kids, that means setting the table. Whatever age your children are at, you don't need to go at it alone. Figure out a way to incorporate them in the getting the meal on the table.

Sit down: When my husband isn't home at the dinner hour I can usually be found running around frantically, feeding my kids all while I am standing at the counter eating here and there. When we sit down together, everything goes better, and much calmer.

Start with prayer: This is probably a no-brainer to most LDS families, but in the chaos of getting hungry kids fed, it sometimes happens well after the kids have started eating.

Sister Beck adds from her article, "Because I prepared a meal to share with my family, something special happened. It was a simple process, and our style changed with the ages of our children. When they were young we could discuss a picture from the Gospel Art Picture Kit or memorize a scripture. When they were older we asked more questions and shared experiences. Over the years our children grew and matured, and we loved each other."

I thought those were great ideas. I would love to start incorporating conversation from the gospel art kit to our dinner time. What about you mamas? Have you learned anything to help make your family's mealtime a great experience? Please share with us.

image via


runningfan said...

My husband is almost never home for dinner, and I struggle to have a good attitude about it. But, since I'm speaking to this subject at Women's conference, I'm trying! Thanks for the great tips.

Missy said...

I have been thinking of this post of yours for several days now Erin.

Sometimes I end up eating standing up (more often at lunch) too. Devin is only home one night (during the week) for dinner besides Sat and Sun.

but, for dinners: sometimes I read a book to them while they are eating. Sometimes we talk about our favorite part of the day. But, I think the gospel art picture kit is a GREAT idea. I also think discussing "scripture heros" is a good one for this Primary year (I know the scriptures are true). We've talked about Samuel the Lamanite and Lehi recently. I also think memorizing Articles of Faith (slowly) could work too.

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