Family Meals – Setting the Ground Rules

I’ve been on ‘vacation’ for the last week or so with my one year old a d husband along loads of extended family. So I’ve thought quite a bit about my own family meals as I’ve sat through numerous wonderful food gatherings.

My next Family Tip – Setting Ground Rules. My philosophy is to set wide parameters. No one likes to be mandated to do anything so my advice to be careful about being too strict

Here are a few on my list:

1. Everyone pitches in. No matter how you divide the preparation, set up and clean up, make certain each family member takes ownership of some part of the meal.

2. Highs and lows. I am not suggesting that you force ‘how was your day?’ conversation so be creative with how you work this one into the meal. For example, ‘What was your favorite part of the day?’ or ‘What did you learn today?’ or ‘What didn’t go so well today?’

3. Turn off the t.v. Enough said.

4. Looking forward. Another focus on conversation. ‘What are you most excited about for tomorrow?’ or ‘this week?’

5. Serve a variety of foods. Get creative! Make it fun for the family and include members in planning. Try a new dish or flavor! Set a theme! Or maybe try one night a week to serve only foods available locally. Maybe you and the kiddos will find that challenging motivating and inspiring!

6. Set a schedule as best as you can but don’t worry about being too rigid with the timing. What you want is routine and some form of commitment from your family members.

So there you have it. A few on my list. You can chose to share these rules with your family or keep them to yourself. My last piece of advice is to not go overboard with Ground Rules otherwise it all may backfire on you! Have fun and be flexible!




Founder, Publisher, Writer & Editor at Carrots Are Orange, Inc.
Marnie began Carrots Are Orange in 2010 after the birth of her first son. Carrots Are Orange is a Montessori inspired learning and living blog for parents and educators. She hails from Maine, a wonderfully down to earth place to grow up. Marnie moved to the west coast in 1999, currently living east of Seattle with her husband and three young boys. She is pursuing Montessori certification. Her work has been featured on Apartment Therapy, PBS Kids, BabyCenter, the Melissa & Doug blog, and


  1. says

    Just got the book The Family Dinner from the library, and it mirrors many of your tips and has so many great ideas for encouraging discussion and enjoyable family dinners. Plus, it has a lot of great stats about why family dinners matter. Thanks for writing about this topic.

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