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Monday Mom challenge: Make Sunday dinner special again

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Create special family time

When I was growing up, Sunday dinner meant something special. Every couple or three weeks we'd keep our church clothes on after church and go to my grandmother's house for Sunday dinner. Gram would make a feast of one kind or another (three rotating specialties) and we were all on our best behavior and used our best manners. The actual meal would happen mid-afternoon, and it was plenty to tide us over through the drive home and to bed. We complained about these dinners at the time - but thirty years out, my siblings and I talk about those Sunday dinners fondly.

Create special family timeUnless you've been living under a rock, you've seen report and after report and family expert after family expert talk about the importance of family meals. They aren't wrong, I think, but with busy schedules, it can be hard to sit down to family meals every night of the week. If you have trouble making time during the week for family meals, why not make Sunday your special meal day. It doesn't have to be dressy or as early as the ones I had with my grandmother growing up, but it does have to be a commitment to eating a nice meal together. A nice family meal on Sunday is a great way to start the week.

Make it special

You can make a Sunday meal special without getting extravagant. Our Sunday meals very much follow the local sale circular in terms of main ingredients - roast chicken is a common theme - but we make sure we have a couple side dishes and salad and dessert. It's truly a complete meal. Sometimes we light candles, and we always make sure we get out the cloth napkins. It's those simple efforts that let the kids know this is something more than the everyday.We talk about our weekend and plans for the week. Over time, the kids have come to understand that this is a bit of time for regrouping and reconnecting. If the weeks and/or weekends are crazy, our nice Sunday evening meal is something quiet and consistent to look forward to.

Make it mandatory

Our Sunday meal is absolutely mandatory. Because this a reconnecting and regrouping time, the kids know that play dates or other activities are expected to conclude by about 5:00. Those are nights that, should they forget and ask to have dinner at a friend's house, the answer is no. Likewise, it's a night we don't ask friends to stay for dinner. This is our special family time, and we all make a commitment to it.NO matter what your family schedule during the week, make one meal a week a special family meal. This Sunday is a great time to start.

Need dinner ideas? Check out our food & recipe section for easy dinner recipes.

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