How to Give Yourself the Gift of Family Dinner This Season
It’s a funny thing, but when you ask most adults we know what they want most this holiday season, they’re hard-pressed to come up with anything to put on their wish lists. Sure, we all make jokes like “a nap” or “a clean house” or “a vacation to Tahiti,” but when it comes right down to it, once you reach a certain age the gift-giving of the season is really for the kids. What adults are looking for, if we’re honest, is more of the intangible stuff: More time together, more memories, more peace.
The trouble with the gift-giving mindset is that it too often means that we either feel like we have to set our own desires aside in order to give to others, or that we wait and hope that someone else will see what we really want and make it happen for us. But why not change things up and give yourself the gifts you really want this year?
This December, we challenge all the stressed-out, overcommitted adults out there to give themselves the gifts of time, connection and peace (or at least, relative peace — let’s not kid ourselves that those 2-year-old twins are suddenly going to become quiet, well-behaved model citizens). Here’s how to engage the whole family in giving you the quality time you deserve this year.
Delegate dinner to someone else for a change. Maybe that’s the pizza delivery guy, or maybe you empower your first-grader to assemble peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for everyone. Bonus points for using paper plates so there are not after-dinner dishes! Try delegating once a week this month, and use the extra energy to play table games or linger for a longer conversation together. (Play The Craziest Gift to get everyone in the spirit of the season)
Take the opportunity to turn family dinner into date night. Sure, family dinners are for the whole family, and they have great benefits for the kids — but part of what stresses parents out at this time of year is the constant feeling that they’re pouring everything they’ve got into making the season magical for everyone else. Just for one evening, try putting the kids to bed early (or letting them sleep over at Grandma’s) and focus on a date night in with your partner. Lay out an indoor picnic and spend time together, so you’ve got more energy to give to the kids the next day. (Get more ideas for connecting as a couple over dinner)
Disconnect — not from your family, but from your phones and laptops, at least for the dinner hour. If this is hard for you, aim for once a week to begin with and then see if you can work your way up. One family we know suggested a weekly “pioneer” dinner where they actually get rid of ALL modern conveniences while they eat. (Candles, anyone?) You might not go that far, but the idea could help you hold that tech-free space. (Get more tips for going tech-free at the table)
Family of the Month
This month, we’re talking to the McLaughlin family, who share their thoughts on how — and why — they’ve prioritized daily family dinners despite the challenges.