Table Talk: 5 House Rules for Family Dinners

Posted on Apr 12, 2021 by 3 Comments

It’s so easy to become disconnected as a family. Between varying school, work and social schedules, it’s very easy for families to simply eat on the fly and never sit down at their table together for a meal. Some studies suggest that family dinners improve the communication and well being of family relationships.

So with that in mind, I encourage you to commit to family dinners on a regular basis using the five house rules below. These would, of course, be tweaked according to the age of your children. I have twins that are toddlers, so they would not be doing dishes just yet, but they could certainly sit at the table and enjoy the meal and bring their plastic plates into the sink when they are done. In short, adapt these rules accordingly.

5 House Rules for Family Dinners:

1. Set a Date. Set days of the week that are set “dinner date” days. This may be a fluctuating schedule throughout sports seasons, school year and summer months. It’s ok to reassess throughout the year, but setting several days that are dedicated to quality mealtime is important. Once those days are set, make them off limits to last minute changes.

2. Everyone Is Important. Give everyone a role to play. One person sets the table, one person gathers the group when the meal is ready to go, several people work together to assemble the meal. Rotate the cooking responsibilities so everyone has the opportunity to contribute.

3.  Everyone Shares. While at the table, have everyone share something about their day that was positive and something that was a challenge as you eat your meal. This will foster communication. Make it a rule that something positive has to be shared and the challenge can be an option. Hopefully most days will be good days, but by opening the door for discussions of challenges, the family can all take part in being a support to that family member.

4. No Tech Allowed. All phones and technology devices must be left in a separate room out of earshot during the dinner hour.

5. Do Your Part. All family members must take their dishes to the sink and the responsibility of cleaning the dishes and preparation area should vary from day to day, or everyone should work together to clean it. This configuration should be decided and tracked as a family.

These are some starting guidelines to get your family dinner going in a successful direction. It will look different house to house, but the one thing that should look the same is the commitment to several days a week where you sit down and have a meal together at the table when TV’s are turned off and there is no where that anyone has to be - it should be focused family time.

Do you have any house rules you would add? 


Photo: More Good Foundation

Posted in: Parenting
Nicole Hempeck

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  • JDaniel4′s Mom

    JDaniel has a friend that likes to get up and wander during meals. JDaniel has tried to do it a few times, but now we have a rule about sitting during meals that he has to try to follow.

  • Julie C.

    If there is only one or two of us at the table, I allow a book or a magazine if both parties are reading and happy. But if there are 3 or 4 of us, we put everything away, toys, books, phones … and concentrate on each other.

    And when one child is done eating well before the other, they still have to stay seated with us at the table until everyone is finished. It gives them a change to bring up topics of conversation they often don’t have right after school, etc. They warm up and tell us the really interesting stuff at dinnertime.

  • Adventures In Babywearing

    The no tech thing is my #1 rule, especially for my husband! (and me)