SETTING THE TABLE
As a parent with kids that grew up WAY TOO FAST, I’m constantly trying to slow down time. I believe strongly in the instruction found in Ephesians 5:16 “to make the most of every opportunity”…to the point that I go overboard sometimes. There’s a sense of urgency with every passing year, so with summer fast approaching, I began to put into practice the desires of my heart.
I’m a wife and full time working momma of two kids who LOVES meaningful family time full of intentional conversations. I want to seize every opportunity to have fun together and make a memory! I have a full-blown adult daughter (20) and an older teenage son (17). They both work full-time during the summer for my husbands business. They are both driven, and love the paychecks and the things those paychecks allow for. My daughter works for clothes, food and to build one heck of a savings account. My son works for food, to pay for dates with his girlfriend, and to cover the costs of the speeding tickets he seems to creatively attain. They are both very different and perfectly imperfect but the pride and joy of our lives.
BUILDING THE TABLE
Recently, for our 21st anniversary, my kids with the help of a family member built my husband and I a GIANT picnic table for our back porch. My daughter saw it on FIXER UPPER and decided we needed one too. I personally LOVE picnic tables. They make my heart happy. Like hearts and flowers and a good Dr. Pepper happy. This gift was a blessing for our whole family.
Since then, I declared Thursday nights FAMILY DINNER NIGHT. It is our non-negotiable night that we would all gather for a special dinner together. There will be themes and out of the ordinary things we try and cook. Each family member will get to pick the menu each week and it is an opportunity to serve my family. (little disclaimer: I don’t really like to cook because I’m not awesome at it- so this is a BIG DEAL). They’re allowed to invite a friend, girlfriend/boyfriend, family or whoever else they’d like to join us-the picnic table seats 20!
Life happens at the table. Relationships are formed around the table. Food is placed on the table.
EXPECTATIONS FOR THE TABLE
FAMILY TIME – This is our time. Others are welcome to join but it’s important that it’s a priority FIRST for MY family. With younger kids, that means they don’t spend the night away that night, older kids don’t make plans. My kids know they can go out or go to friends after dinner. We don’t declare it a no phone zone, but you might have to. Don’t be afraid to lay out your expectations/hopes/goals for your time together.
FUN – It’s plain and simple. I believe it’s important for families to have fun together. Tell stories; ask about the week, reminisce, LAUGH TOGETHER.
FOOD – The setting is fun, and the menu is fun- last night it was grilled cheese your own way so we had everything you need to make fancy grilled cheeses (I swiped the idea from a friend and IT WAS A GREAT ONE). We also try new things, learn how to cook different types of food, and try to go out of the norm. We create an experience with what we put on the table just as much as sitting at the table.
INTENTIONAL CONVERSATIONS – I lay down my expectations and just let it flow. Sometimes conversations flow naturally, other times we help them along. Everyone at the table gets to ask a question or we play a game and it’s their choice. My son will sometimes even initiate questions/conversations because he has experienced it and actually enjoys it. I also have the little cards called Table Topics that sit on the table and we use those at times to spur on the open conversations.
Consistency sets the stage for connections, and laughter sets the stage for joy. We get to create an environment that our kids love and want to be a part of. There’s no better time to start than now. Schedule opportunities to be together, eat together, laugh together and make it a priority to enjoy the family God has given you! Take a picture to remember the moments that create the memories that last a lifetime.