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6 Mom-Approved Ideas For Creating Memories Around Dinnertime

By Amy Jamieson

For parents, there are two kinds of meals: the disasters and the delights.

In my memory, Thanksgiving 2015 will forever live in infamy. I spent hours preparing a turkey, sides, and desserts ... only to have my kids cry with each and every bite as I sat with my face firmly planted in the palm of my hand.

Then, there are the delights — those magical, joyful dinners that leave you feeling like you’ve won a gold medal in the parenting marathon. The summer dinners we have on a blanket on our driveway — noshing on watermelon and discussing the amazingness of lightning bugs — those are the gold medal meals. These pure moments tug my heartstrings and make that dismal Thanksgiving dinner feel like a distant memory.

And since all families deserve to have more delights than disasters, we teamed up with DairyPure to ask 6 moms to share their favorite ways to help create special memories at the dinner table.

Here's what they had to say:

1. Get The Conversation Started

“My daughter’s class made 'Family Conversation Starters' for Christmas presents — and guess what? They actually work! There are questions like, 'Did you see somebody that needed help today? What happened?' 'What is one thing that made you feel smart today?'

We all have these isolated days away from one another. When we get together as a family, these questions help us discuss our day and make us feel more united.” —Maggie

2. Cooking And Cleaning Up Together

"Dinnertime can be stressful, but getting my kids involved has been really helpful — not to mention joyful! We have fun searching for a new recipe and planning the meal, then the kids help out by measuring, pouring, and mixing the ingredients. It makes them feel part of the process and makes dinnertime a little easier for Mom. Check, check!” —Lauren

3. Eating Your Colors

“Ever since my kids were little I would get them to try new things by telling them to ‘eat their colors!' So these days, I make sure to have at least three different colors of food on their plate, which broadens their horizons and makes them open to trying new things. They look forward to it every night, and I love seeing them continue to learn and grow through every new experience." —Felicia

4. Get In On The “Gratitude Jar”

“We make a habit of each writing something we are thankful for on a piece of paper. Then when we're gathered around the table at dinnertime, we read our notes aloud and put them in a jar. This ritual allows us the opportunity to talk about our day, to practice the art of listening, and to recognize pure moments of gratitude.

On bad days, we go back to the jar and read some of our previous notes. It always helps put things back in perspective!” —Gemma

5. Make dinner a safe space to learn about feelings

“We each share a feeling that we had that day, teaching our kids that all feelings are OK, even the not-so-fun ones.

The tidbits that my kindergartener chooses to share provide a great little window into what’s on her mind. But every single night that we ask our two and a half year old what feeling she experienced that day, she has the same answer: 'Happy! Because of Holden." Holden is her BFF. The best part is that her answer (delivered with a huge smile) always stays the same, regardless of whether she’s even seen her friend that day.” —Rennie

6. Build Your Own Dinner Night

“For us, [taco night] started with, well, no food in the house. We walked down the hill from our apartment to the small grocery store where my son helped me pick out lettuce, sour cream, tomatoes, and avocados. His ‘job’ while I prepped was to wash the lettuce. I loved seeing the expression of pure joy on his face at the moment he realized he had a hand in making his favorite meal.” —Linda

DairyPure supports creating pure memories with families and is proud to sponsor this post.