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Newsletter: February 2021

How to Bond With Your Family in 20 Minutes or Less

In the past year, most families have spent more time together than they’ve ever experienced before. But all the forced togetherness isn’t necessarily helping you bond with your family. In fact, feeling like you’re on top of each other day after day might be having the opposite effect — you might physically be together more, but feel like engaging with each other less. There’s something to that old adage “Absence makes the heart grow fonder….”

Whether in lockdown or in more “normal” times, it’s always the quality that matters, not the quantity of time you spend together. One of the reasons family dinner can be so powerful is because it provides the daily opportunity for a relatively quick hit of togetherness. The average family spends 20 minutes or less eating together on a typical night, but that brief period of time can forge stronger family bonds. Here are some great ways to bond with your family in under 20 minutes:

  • Share some memories. A trip down memory lane together doesn’t have to be sappy and sentimental. Make it fun with a game of 20 Questions About a Family Memory, or pass around old photos for a funny captioning contest. You can even allow devices at the table for digital memories, which may be enticing enough for reluctant teens and tweens to join in!
  • Share some laughs. Research shows that when you share a laugh with someone, you actually like them better and feel closer to them — which might be just the thing for families who are a bit stressed from too much time in close quarters. There are lots of ways to get giggling together at family dinner, but you might try a joke jar, a “try not to laugh” challenge, or a super silly game like Cat and Cow for can’t-fail laughs.
  • Share some facts. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking we know our family members all too well. But there’s always something new to learn! A round of 2-Minute Interview or a game like The Hat Game can introduce you to new and fascinating facts you didn’t know about each other.
  • Share some favorites. Show interest in each other through favorites — favorite foods, activities, TV shows or music. You might make each person’s favorite foods for dinner throughout the week, or relax your family rules about technology during meals to let kids share a favorite show, movie or quick video game demonstration while you eat. Showing a genuine interest in what they like will make everyone feel a little more special and promote a closer bond.

The best family bonding opportunities often happen at the least planned times, so there’s no need to push for connection. In just 20 minutes or less, your family dinner table can become the perfect place to help everyone feel closer to each other — and if family bonding doesn’t happen the way you hope it will tonight, there are still plenty of other family dinners in the future!

Family of the Month

Meet the Lehmans! This military special operations family is juggling their own family dinners while trying to help other families like theirs come together at the table.

Real Family Dinner Projects: The Lehman Family


Spaghetti meat sauce

The Lehman kids love spaghetti, so why not try our classic spaghetti with meat sauce recipe this winter?

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce


The Try Not to Laugh Challenge is a great way to take the pressure off at family dinner and just enjoy each other’s company.

Try Not to Laugh Challenge


Set the table for family bonding — literally! — with these printable family interview placemats.

Interview Placemats