If the idea of Sunday dinner sounds totally unrealistic to you, I know where you’re coming from. But there are ways to make it workable and the benefits you’ll reap will be worth the effort, I promise!
Remember that family can have different meanings. Not everyone has relatives nearby where, but don’t overlook the friends can be your extended family no matter where you are.
Sunday dinner doesn’t have to be on Sunday. Pick whatever day or time works for you and your family. “Keep in mind that there are at least sixteen opportunities a week to eat together – seven breakfasts, seven dinners, and two-weekend lunches,” says Fishel. “An intentional snack in the evening when everyone takes a break from homework or the computer can also be an opportunity to connect over food, fun, and conversation.” Maybe your tradition will be Taco Tuesday or Saturday breakfast after baseball practice at the diner. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re together.
Keep things casual. The whole point of Sunday dinner is that you don’t need to be fancy because it’s a regular occurrence, not a special occasion. That doesn’t mean you can’t have special food or drink or try a new recipe if that’s your thing, but the point is that it should be easy and not stressful. (Remember my family’s take-out deli!) “Keep it simple and real,” says Lapointe. “Make it something doable that you can really get into the routine of rather than going way over the top. Get everyone involved in planning and cooking and cleaning so it is a family affair rather than mom and dad doing all the work.”
Put the kibosh on electronics. This is time to be with each other, and everyone can manage without their devices for a couple of hours one day of the week. One exception to this could be using technology to include family members that are far away. “Consider setting aside some time for family FaceTime connections right before or right after your own weekly family meal so you are breathing family into the experience even if they cannot be in attendance,” says Lapointe.
Plan ahead. The benefits of family dinner are numerous, but chances are if you wait for it to happen on its own, you’ll never do it! “Schedule it with your family, the way you do with other important appointments,” says Fishel. “This commitment to dinner, whether it’s one night a week or more, makes it intentional and a shared priority.” Put a note on your calendar to visit mom and dad the first Sunday of every month – then be sure to extend an invitation to your home for the middle of the month. If you’re dining with friends, rotate a different friend’s house each week. Don’t cancel if someone can’t make it – just keep it going until it becomes routine.