Tips for Making Dinner Happen When Everyone Has Different Schedules

Growing up in a family of eight children, it was very important for my parents to have us all eat dinner together, if at all possible. With such a big family, this certainly had it challenges, especially, of course, as we got older and people had more and more activities in the evening. As busy as it was during the school year with sports or student council, at least there was a routine every night and it seemed more predictable. The summer time, I think, is where things really got quite tricky. It seems like it was a harder time for all of us to find a time to sit down together and eat dinner together. Either people had jobs in the summer, or were out with friends, but my mom tried her hardest to find a time to share a meal together. Sometimes that was breakfast or lunch, but somehow, she’d seem to find a time.

There has been so much research done on the power of a family sitting down to share a meal together. Extra kudos if it’s a phone-free zone and everybody can sit down together with no distractions and learn about each other’s day and connect with each other.

I was reading some tips the other day in my monthly Real Simple magazine on the very topic of how people find time to share a meal together and there were several different great ideas.

Rhonda from Rutledge, Texas says:

“Don’t focus on the meal; focus on the time to come together. It can be breakfast, after-school snacks, dinner—find what works for your family. I did 10 p.m. snacks when my girls were in high school because that was when they’d be getting home from sports or work or hanging out with friends. We had 15 to 30 minutes to just catch up on the day and the dramas that make up teenage life.”

I love that. How memorable is that for her kids that they’d get together for a snack at 10 p.m. just to catch up on their day. Great idea, Rhonda!

Heather from Sustman Golden, Texas says:

“Aim for healthy. I have two kids in two different schools and on multiple sports teams, so there are days when we’re not all home to eat together. I’ve learned to make soup and/or salad with leftover chicken on those nights. That way we get veggies and protein, and we aren’t spending too much money or compromising nutrition to be eating fast food.”

Jenn from LaGrange, New York says:
“Make it a must. Family dinner is a priority in our house. Even if it’s for cereal or sandwiches, we sit together. We eat when everyone is home—6 p.m. some nights, 9 p.m. other nights.”

I think that’s really cool that Jenn’s family will always know and remember what a priority their mom made having dinner together. I can imagine that her children, if they are anything like mine, probably get all sorts of whiny by 9 p.m., but they will have fond memories of the priority their mother made for family time.

Kristin from Stratford, Connecticut says:
“Tacos always win. I make a batch of taco meat and all the fixings and have tortillas ready to be warmed up when people are ready to eat.”

Now Kristin is my sorta gal. I’m all about easy meals like tacos for busy nights!

And last, but not least, we have Rachel from Erlanger, Kentucky:

“Don’t overthink it. Order. Pizza. Done.”

I hear ya, Rachel. Sometimes you just gotta order a pizza and call it a night! Oftentimes those are the best kinda nights!

I thought these were some really great ideas for how to connect and share a meal together as a family. Do you have any tips you’d share about finding ways to connect and have a meal together in this busy world of ours? Feel free to share in the comments below.


    Mary Richardson
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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