Why Family Meals Matter (amid chaos)

I am completely tapped out in life right now. Can you relate? Literally the to-do list is too long. I can’t get it all done. Prioritization is not enough and letting go is a part of what I have learned to do when things get hectic like it is right now. 
But what do I do to renew myself, to feed my soul, to bring energy back into my life after a long day?
No matter how difficult it seems in the moment, I cook a family meal. It forces me to be in the kitchen, away from technology and allows me to think over the stove. The meal I made last night will be detailed this coming Monday for Hunk of Meat Monday. It wasn’t fancy. It wasn’t gourmet. 
But the meal forced just the two of us that were home, Hunter and me to sit down together and converse over a family meal. 

Normally there are five of us home and things are louder at the table. But last night the girls had dates with Daddy when he went to go to do errands in the big town 100 miles away. They got to eat at Olive Garden together. Hunter said that our meal together was “way better than Olive Garden” except he would have liked me to make some breadsticks. Conversing with Hunter the teenager made me laugh, get his perspective on anything he felt like sharing which mostly includes sports related topics. Plus I had him tell me about his day, football, school, piano and more.

Family meals are the calm in the storm of a hectic day for me. They provide some balance, down time and even if the kitchen is a mess or there are food crumbles on the floor, it is worth it.

Plus family meals teach two year olds to sit in their chair at the table, to drink their milk all gone and to not throw food on the floor…or at their sister.

Miss E, Miss A and Daddy came home last night just in time to join Hunter and me for some kuchen (note: Germans from Russia delicacy on the North Dakota prairie that I have blogged about here).
Each day I ask the kids three questions while we eat together over a family meal. Nathan and I also both answer the questions. Last night question time was at kuchen evening snack time. The questions always are:

1. What is the best thing that happened to you today?
2. What is the worst thing that happened to you today?
3. What is one thing you can improve on from today?

When you have ages 2 to 35 answering we get a wide array of questions. From the worst things are Hunter having to practice his piano each morning to Miss E telling on Miss A that she hit someone at daycare. Improvements often include having better attitudes, being more kind, having more patience and for Miss A…completing her potty training that she is quite reluctant to do! The best things almost always include at least one of us saying that the meal we are sharing together is the best thing that happened to us today.

And for that sole reason of our family meal being the best thing of the day, I am renewed. My to-do list doesn’t seem too long. I can just keep on trucking through life. Family meals matter.


  1. Awesome post. If there is one thing that stands out to me while I was growing up- it’s our family meals. We almost ALWAYS ate dinner together and talked about our day. I never realized how “uncommon” it was for a family to eat together until I talked with a group of friends about it in college. I’m so thankful for those times I had with my family and I plan to sit down and enjoy dinner with my children (when that time comes) in the future.

  2. what a great post. love your daily tradition of meals and questions. and how great that you and hunter had some one-on-one time!?

  3. Angie Gullicks says:

    You are right Katie. That is the best time of my day to sit down as a family and have a meal. I miss all of us being together around the table since 2 of my 3 boys have left the nest but we still sit down with Stu, Darren and myself and find out about everyone’s day. There are too many families that don’t eat together and they miss out on so much family time. I cherish them just as I cherished my time eating with my family when I was a kid. BTW love your posts Katie. Keep it up.

  4. Dinner at the dining room table every night is a priority here, too. (Except for the tennis schedule lately! Then the car has to do!)
    I hate to admit it, but I also like the break that cooking supper offers. I just wish I wasn’t SO HUNGRY when I’m standing at the stove!

  5. Great post!! I always had family dinners but my boyfriend’s family ate dinner in front of the tv and whenever they wanted to. Now, I still eat dinner at the table every night with the boyfriend. No TV on, no answering phones – just us enjoying our meal. It is so nice to have that time every day!!

  6. I love the 3 questions tradition you have. Dinner doesn’t seem quite right to me if it doesn’t come from the kitchen 🙂

    With harvest we’ve had little time with Daddy lately so a couple times a week we’ve been taking dinner to the elevator. Dinner harvest time with daddy is short but it’s still time with Daddy.

    Great post 🙂

  7. Agree. I had the pleasure of helping to host author Hara Marano to speak at my son’s school last year. She wrote Nation of Wimps. I was floored when she closed her talk by telling parents one of the most important things they could do to help their kids was to eat dinner as a family. Wow.

    We did it growing up. We do it now. Great validation that something so simple (and enjoyable) can have such a profound impact. Tis a gift!

  8. Family meals are so important. There are a lot of recent studies that show they are effective in reducing a lot of problems teens face like pressure to use drugs and so forth. I love how they bring about bonding. I just wish my twins would sit through one, lol! They tend to try to get up and wander off several times a meal.

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