Skip to content

How to Make the Family Dinner a Happy Meal

We’re living in such a difficult time. There’s so much virus everywhere. Schools have re-opened, or sort of, or not at all, or they’ve closed again. It’s the same with jobs. You miss seeing and hugging your friends and relatives. Being at home with your family has gotten really old. You’re worried, your kids are bored and whiney (see note), and your home feels like it’s getting smaller every day.

Now, more than ever, I urge you to do whatever you can to make dinner a Happy Meal. Everyone in the family should be part of this. Sit down together, and turn off devices and the television. If your family begins a meal with a prayer or with an expression of gratitude, that’s great – but there are other options for setting a positive tone. For example:

  • Everyone brings something funny to the table – a joke, something funny to read, a hysterical idea, etc.
  • Everyone shares a great part of their day and a challenging part of their day.
  • Everyone brings a picture to the table – something they’d like to do after the pandemic, something they want to do when they grow up, or just something cool.

These are just a few ideas, and I’m sure you can come up with great ones of your own – I’d love you to share them, if you’re willing.

Once the meal begins, please don’t get into food fights with your children. Yes, I’m going to talk about picky eaters in another post – but for now, let me just urge you to offer healthy foods, but not to force, coerce, or otherwise make mealtime an unhappy time for everyone. The point is, most of us are in various stages of anxiety and unhappiness right now. Wherever possible, let’s create an oasis of calm and gratitude at the table.

Note: when my children were little, I found whining to be almost intolerably annoying. A friend made the following suggestion: “When your kids start doing that, tell them you’re so sorry, but you can’t understand what they’re saying when they whine.”  It was magic.