This month, we’re featuring the Hawkins family from West Virginia. This busy family of four was inspired to connect with The Family Dinner Project through our Dinner Tonight feature, and recently won our third and final 21 Dinners Challenge for West Virginia residents. The Hawkins say they look forward to using the prize package in many future dinners to come, and we look forward to hearing more from them in the future!
Trampus and Elizabeth Hawkins and their two children, Alexa and Kaden, of Clenendin, West Virginia.
“To eat dinner together more often,” says Elizabeth. “With sports season upon us it’s made it difficult to have everyone home at the table every evening.”
Not only do the Hawkins kids have busy sports schedules and school obligations, their parents say that picky eating habits are a consistent challenge at the dinner table.
To combat picky eating, Elizabeth says they employ a tried-and-true strategy that The Family Dinner Project often recommends to frustrated parents: Pairing new foods with familiar dinner favorites, which ensures that there’s always something on the table for everyone to eat while still introducing new flavors. In order to have a family dinner experience most nights, despite the time crunch, the Hawkins family often has two separate dinners — a “first and second shift” idea — with half the family sitting down together at one point in time and the other half enjoying their meal later.
“We have (sports) practice 3-4 times a week. On those evenings we usually have two dinners but still sit at the table and talk.”
Learn more strategies for helping picky eaters broaden their palates.
Like many busy families with differing food preferences, the Hawkins family enjoys quick and customizable meals where each person can add their own preferred toppings, such as pizza and tacos. Elizabeth says she likes to make a variety of different foods, and a new dinner that everyone has enjoyed is French Dip sandwiches.
For the Hawkinses, the whole point of family dinner is to make the most of whatever time they have together at the table. They frequently ask imaginative questions that get the kids thinking hard about creative answers, such as “If you were an animal, what animal would you be?” or “If you had a spaceship, what color would it be?”
Find more creative conversation starters in our Imagination archives!
The Best Part:
At this family’s table, the food is less important than the fun and conversation.
“What’s on the table is nice, but taking the time to talk to your kids every day is the most important thing.”
Do you have your own family dinner project to share with us? We’d love to hear from you and consider featuring your family! Contact Us.