The scene was the same for our three girls and Mom and Dad—time to gather in the living room with calendars in hand, ready to go over the upcoming weeks and months to be sure we have everything down on the schedule—and to be sure that we have plenty of time set aside for each other and our family. What wasn’t the same was the addition of our future son-in-law—a sweet, amazing young man who has no need for meetings, sitting for long periods of time listening to three teenage/young adult girls and their parents gab. His response to our “calendar meeting” was hilarious as he put a pillow over his head and kept coming up periodically to ask if it was almost over!
One of the places in our home in which lively discussions were usually held (and continue to be so, especially when all thirteen of us are home together!) is the dinner table. There is a lot of talk online and other places about the importance of the family dinner table. I am so grateful that we took the time to be sure that we ate four or five meals a week together in the evening—around the table.
Here are some tips to get your family dinner time back—and get your table talk on:
When is the best time to solve problems? Before they start!
The same thing is true in parenting. If we can talk through issues and problems before they arise, we will be ahead of the game in parenting.
My husband always used the mantra that we should “talk about this during non-conflict times.”
That is, we shouldn’t try to solve a bunch of problems, make new rules, talk through too many things, etc., when we were in the middle of a conflict.
With the addition of another child every other year or so, we knew it was important to spend time with the older children. (We were taught by our early mentors to put as much time and energy into our first two kids as we possibly could, knowing that the “trickle down effect” of teaching would come into play.)
Note: This is another reason we have felt so strongly about not letting an eight month old, eighteen month old, or twenty-eight month old determine the entire family’s schedule [i.e. have a “toddler run home”]—it never felt right to let a toddler’s “wants” override a teen’s needs. Anyway, because of the advice we received to invest significantly in our older kids for the “trickle down effect” (which majorly works, I might add), we always looked for ways to spend more time with Joshua (now 29) and Kayla (now 26). One of the ways I did this was to implement “Terrific Tuesday” or “Wonderful Wednesday.”
Not long ago my twenty-one year old son was helping me clean and cut fruits and veggies. This is a rare sight nowadays. The boys are either in college all the time or working very full time jobs (well, actually, they both do both at the same time!). I miss those times of cooking and cleaning in the kitchen with my kids.
However, I didn’t expect the boys to miss it! Josiah, the twenty-one year old pediatric nurse I just referred to, said, “You know what I miss? I miss those times that we used to gather around the table with tons of potatoes, carrots, apples, and other fruits and vegetables and peel, cut, clean, and prep them while you read aloud to us for hours!”
So do I, baby, so do I!