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Jun 28

Make a Picnic of Family Dinner!

Summertime is here, and with the warm weather comes the opportunity to change up the dinner table routines we’ve been sticking with all year long. It’s not just fun to take dinnertime outside; it can also be necessary, as the summer months can be packed with adventures and excursions that can have families out of the house well past the dinner hour.

Whether in the summer or any other time of year, outdoors or indoors, a picnic dinner can be a practical and fun way to make sure that your family shares mealtimes whenever and wherever you are. Here’s how — and why — you should consider making picnics a regular part of your family dinner strategy.

  1. Picnic dinners mean togetherness on the go.
    Sometimes it feels like family dinner just can’t happen in the midst of all our other scheduled commitments. Packing up some sandwiches and enjoying them together wherever you land — on the baseball sidelines, in the lobby before the dance recital, outside the school auditorium or even in a parking lot (tailgating, anyone?) — can make a big difference in how you feel about a “rushed” mealtime. Just 10 minutes of sitting face to face and sharing your picnic dinner will do much more for your connections with each other (and your mood!) than cramming in a drive-thru dinner en route, so opt for the picnic if you have a few minutes to spare!

    Check out more tips for making the most of the situation when dinner feels impossible.

  2. Moving dinner away from the table shakes things up.
    A little switch in the usual routine can really lift the mood and make expected rituals feel new again. Even if you’ll be at home and able to serve dinner at the table during your usual mealtime, taking it outdoors — or to the living room floor, if the weather isn’t cooperating — could be just what you need to get everyone relaxing and interacting more comfortably. Let the picnic blanket give you permission to move freely, eat with your fingers and focus more on each other than table manners, and see what develops!

    Worried about the weather? Try an indoor picnic to add some fun to family dinner at any time of the year!

  3. Eating outside opens up the fun.
    The Family Dinner Project is all about food, fun and conversation — with an emphasis on fun! Moving dinner outdoors provides an automatic opportunity to add new elements of family fun to the mealtime. An added bonus could be stimulating appetites in reluctant eaters, since research shows that kids who have recess before lunchtime at school eat more and better-balanced meals than peers who don’t get playtime first. Try adding some family playtime in the great outdoors before you serve your picnic dinner, and you just might find that the food goes down easier after all that fun!