I love offbeat special days, and noticed that this Sunday is National Sunday Supper Day. Isabel Laessig founded it as a way to bring families together for a time of discussion and building relationships. According to the Family Dinner Project, family dinners boost self-esteem and resilience, while lowering the risks of depression and substance abuse in children. It definitely is worth trying to find a time for regular dinners in your family to see if the time can help strengthen your relationships.
Consistent with your theme this month of self care, don’t make this a project that you do for your family. Instead, make it one that you do with your family. Spread the responsibility around. Younger children can learn how to set the table, while preteens can learn how to plan and fix an appetizer or side dish. Even younger teens can learn how to take responsibility for a simple meal such as spaghetti and salad.
In fact, use this project as a way to help your kids learn life skills. My sister had her children take responsibility for one meal a week, from planning to putting the ingredients on the grocery list to cooking it. If they forgot to put something on the grocery list, they were responsible for figuring out a Plan B. Of course, the adults were always available to help, but the kids had to take point on the decisions. My friends who’ve adopted the practice say that being responsible only for overseeing, rather than making the meal happen, relieves a lot of the stress for that day.
Family meals also can be very informal and creative. You can do a potluck, with everyone responsible for one dish, or go with a fun theme such as a meal of appetizers or breakfast-for-dinner. Make the project as informal and entertaining as you need it to be. Remember the goal is not to have any particular menu, but to enjoy each other’s company and build relationships through a common family project.