Want to raise strong children? Bring back family dinner night {with as much extended family as possible}

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The importance of family meal night goes way beyond nourishing tummies… it helps grow strong, secure children.

I’d love to share with you all something that is very important to my family. We are big believers in eating dinner as an {extended} family {at least} once a week.

For years when my older two were younger we had a tradition of having Sunday breakfast/brunch with both sides of our extended family. Like, my parents, my sister, her husband and their kids PLUS my husbands parents, siblings, their wives and children… We are so lucky that everyone not only gets along… but enjoys each others company.

I know my daughters have benefited in so many ways by getting to spend quality time with both sets of grandparents and aunts/uncles {at the same time}. They have also grown socially by having this predictable schedule that they really look forward to each week.

Once my sister and Pete’s {my husband} brothers all married their spouses… Sundays were harder to all get together on so we switched it to a weekly dinner night. We try for every Friday… but it’s often switched to Thursday or even Monday… and that’s okay… it’s not about the day… it’s about the company!

Now that we have a new little one {and 3 new nieces/nephews} we once again are reminded how important it is for the little ones {especially} to have this —– during their early formative years.

All of that is “test book”… but the easy way to explain why we make once a week family meals a priority is that it’s fun. We look forward to hearing what’s happening in everyone’s life. The little ones grow and change practically overnight so it’s awesome to connect with them so often.

Want to start your own extended family meal night? Great! Here is how we started ours {and still do it}. Pick a day and time. Choose a restaurant {we change it each week} and we make sure that it’s convenient and affordable for everyone. Then spread the word. Invite everyone to join you. Some weeks we are lucky to have everyone. Some weeks it’s just us and one set of grand parents… That’s fun too. Everyone now knows that we are available on this day every week and they check in with us to see where.

We do have one small “rule”. If it’s your birthday week… you choose the restaurant! Makes it more fun!

Thankfully I don’t have a crazy mother-in-law… she’s actually quite wonderful {and makes me cookies all the time if we are being honest} so I am lucky that “those” fun family issues don’t play into it for us… so if that is an issue for you I totally get it… but if you can handle being around your full extended family this is a totally fun thing to do!

Also, if eating out is not in your budget this would also be really awesome to do as a rotating location dinner at each family members house. You could all trade off hosting dinner each week. This could also be used as an awesome way to share family favorite recipes. Maybe the host family could type up the recipe for everyone to take home?

Do you do a family meal night?

Heather Reese
the authorHeather Reese
Heather Delaney Reese is the storyteller and photographer behind the lifestyle and family travel blog, It's a Lovely Life®! For the past decade, she has vacationed over 150 days a year with her family. She is a vegan, and loves being by the water, spending time with her children, husband, 2 Shih Tzus and Cat.

1 Comment

  • What a beautiful a piece! Yes, family dinner night is a superb way to keep a family strong and happy. Life moves on too quickly and we must all seize the moment while we can. Our family gatherings always bring me extreme satsisfaction and exhiliration. There’s nothing like spending time with the ones I love most in the world, my big, 18 member happy family.
    Thanks, Heather for this wonderful addition to your blog.

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