Skip to Content

Dinner Tips & Tricks


How do you end the day with your family? Life is busy, moving fast. Often finding time to take a breath seems difficult. I grew up sitting down as a family for dinner most nights. My mother is a single parent. Now with three children of my own and a very supportive partner I wonder how she managed to make it happen for us. Family dinner is a critical component to the day. It brings balance and circles us back together. My sons are only 5 years, 3.5 years, and 4 months old but establishing the family meal as a habit, as a routine, needs to start early. This post includes a few of our Dinner Tips & Tricks.

[Tweet “”There is only one difference between a long life and a good dinner: that, in the dinner, the sweets come last.” – Robert Louis Stevenson “]

Most nights, dinner is a bit chaotic. Lately, though, the energy has settled a bit. We’ve all heard the advice to put healthy food on the table, involve our children in the dinner making process, and keep to a routine (e.g. dinner, bath, brush teeth, books, and bed). Well, I try to adhere to those hearty tips but I am not always successful. So, beyond this advice, I made a few changes as part of our routine that I believe have made a big difference.

Dinner Tips & Tricks

Watermelon for Dinner

Fun Meal Calendar

I won’t say my “kids are bad eaters” because that implies I had nothing to do with their habits. I am not perfect but my husband and I get an “A” for effort. Over the last year meal time has been a constant power struggle. Dinner drained every last morsel of energy and patience from my body. So, I decided my family needed to have a bit more fun.

  • Mac-n-Cheese Monday involves my 5 year old’s favorite meal. We have this meal together as a family to mitigate his desire to have it every night no matter what the family is eating.
  • Taco Tuesday plays on their favorite movie. I set it up buffet style and always include a meat and loads of vegetables.
  • Wacky Wednesday is having breakfast for dinner. What’s more fun than that?
  • Thinking Thursday is the night we eat “brain food” and learn about what we’re eating as we eat it. How does it grow? Why our bodies need it?
  • Freedom Friday is PIZZA NIGHT!!
  • Spaghetti Saturday is when my husband makes meatballs and sauce. We serve it with a salad.
  • Soup & Salad Sunday gives us a chance to be creative, try new foods, and have a variety of soups.

read books

Read Books

On days where the energy is particularly intense, and I know settling my boys down for dinner will be a challenge, we choose a few books to read at mealtime. The boys often get so into the book, I have to pause before during the page, requesting a bite before I move on. Books engage and ground them.

End of the Day Questions

How do you end the day with your children? What questions can I add? For as long as I can remember, my husband and I have been in the habit of asking our sons the following end of the day questions:

  • What was your favorite part of the day? 
  • What was the most challenging part of your day?
  • What are you most grateful for?

Last night I added two questions:

  • What do you appreciate about your day?
  • What did you discover today?

At 5 and 3.5 years old, they were interested and got the “discover” part. They were a bit stumped on the “appreciate” part. So, I took my turn first.
Dinner Outside

Have a Picnic

The boys love picnics. They love building forts, too. So, we brought those together and every once in a while a declare it an indoor picnic night. Outdoor picnics are great, too. I love smelling the fresh air at the end of the day but if we’re trying to wind them down of bedtime, remaining outdoors with the trampoline and their scooters isn’t exactly going to do the trick. Plus it isn’t fair to them. Having a picnic relieves stress on many levels. Give it a go!

What is it?

This week I began taking a picture with my iPhone close up of one thing I encountered during the day outdoors. Then I challenge the boys to guess what they’re seeing close up.

Blackberries Close Up
For example, the above close up picture of blackberries from our yard.

More Ideas to Get your Kids in the Kitchen:

I hope you found these ideas refreshing an helpful to you!

Did you enjoy this post? Consider pinning it!

[pin_widget url=””]

For More:

[pin_board url=”” size=”header”]

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.