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Family Meals: When Dinner Schedules Dont Match

Mealtimes together deserve an important place in any family. Around the table, family members connect, children learn the art of conversation, and a spirit of peace and thankfulness can flourish.

But work, long commutes, sports, music and religious education can make for hectic evenings. As a result, it's sometimes impossible for the whole family to eat dinner together.

A solution: Snacktime!

You don't have to resign yourself to family members' going their own way all evening. Once everyone is home, a family snack can be a simple and effective way to connect.

Make it easy on yourself. A bowl of popcorn or a store-bought treat works fine. Brownies or cookies quickly made from a mix fill the house with an inviting aroma. During cold weather, our family enjoys sweets with a pot of peppermint or raspberry tea.

Add a bit of structure to the conversation to make sure everyone is included and peace prevails. For example, you might ask each person to name the best thing that happened in their day. Everyone else around the table then responds with a comment and a follow-up question.

You can also ask gently whether anyone has a problem that could use your help. Save disciplinary matters for another time.

If snacktime isn't right for your family, you might enjoy a different strategy. Some families go for an evening walk, gather for prayer or share a read-aloud.

The key is to set aside an pleasant, peaceful time when family members can lovingly connect.

A sweet ending to a busy day.

(c) 2004 Norma Schmidt, Coach, LLC

Norma Schmidt, Coach, LLC, specializes in helping women who are both professionals and parents create balance. She offers teleclasses, workshops and individual and group coaching. Norma publishes "The Balance Point," a free e-zine, every other Friday. Visit http://www.NormaSchmidt.com

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