The Art of The Family Dinner
We get it — pulling off a nightly family dinner can be a daunting task, especially for us busy folks. But the reason we should embrace this tradition outweighs any of the reasons why we shouldn't. Nightly dinners are an opportunity for uninterrupted quality time with our loved ones. The distracting devices have been put away, everyone is gathered around to hear about each other’s day, and we’re sharing a tasty meal together. There’s a kind of magic that can happen at these nightly traditions that the entire family will remember for years to come. Trust us, this magic makes the pile of dirty dishes completely worth it.
That’s why we’re teaming up with Finish® Quantum® to bring back the art of the stress-free family dinner — because we love products that help us spend more time with our loved ones. Finish® Quantum® scrubs, degreases and shines — the first time, every time — meaning you’ve got one less thing to worry about. With the help of Finish®, you can focus on the important part of family dinner: building rituals with your family.
To kick off the program, our very own Brit Morin is sharing her own family’s dinner traditions. Then stay tuned over the next few weeks for helpful videos and more brilliant insight on all things family dinner from some of our favorite moms from The Co. From picky eater plating hacks to tackling the pile of dirty dishes, we’ll provide you the tools you need to make family dinners a staple in your evening routine, no matter your dinner blocker.
Despite my husband Dave's and my absurdly busy schedules, we always make time for family dinners with our two sons, Ansel and Austin. Family dinners are the daily occasion when each Morin can share a little bit about their day in an authentic and honest way. It unites us closer together and creates a much-needed time for self-reflection amidst our chaotic lives.
As a kid, we didn’t have family dinner often. My brother and I both played competitive sports and between nighttime practices and homework, our families’ schedules never aligned. As a new-ish mom, I’m inspired to change that habit for my own family. That precious dinner hour is SO important for connection.
My kids are both pretty young still (two and four), so we’re still working on family dinner traditions. Right now, it’s a blessing just to get through a full meal without a meltdown or spill! As they get older, I’d love for each person to share their high and low of the day when we sit down. Dinner has also been a great space for the boys to learn to listen to one another and not talk.
There are a few simple habits that have made nightly dinner so much easier to pull off. I order all my groceries online and do a major session of meal prep early in the week. That way, my picky kids can choose between different options each day rather than feeling forced to eat one type of meal. We set the table with our favorite everyday dishware, but don’t put the pressure on ourselves to get fancy with the setup, unless we’re entertaining. But the right dishware really does make a difference: The kids picked out their own special dishware that they get to use at dinnertime. Austin will eat (almost) anything off of his favorite shiny blue plate!
I love when the boys help me cook and clean — not as a way to offset my work, but as a way to feel proud of contributing to the family in some way. My four-year-old, Ansel, thinks cooking is just as fun as any other creative activity — his latest favorite thing to make is guacamole. My Texas roots are smiling. Two-year-old Austin is too young to help prep, but he helps us clean by taking his special plate and cup to the dishwasher when he’s done. And once that dishwasher’s filled up, I can trust that Finish® Quantum® will make sure everything comes out clean as a whistle, without endless pre-scrubbing. It’s the little things!
Dave and I feel closer than ever to our kiddos (and each other!) now that we’re in the groove of this tradition. We take an hour to slow down, take a breather from devices and other distractions, and just be with each other. It’s incredibly rewarding.
Real talk: What’s likely holding you back from a nightly dinner routine is the hassle that comes with it. Let’s start by addressing the biggest hurdle: clean-up! Every dinner at home comes with a side of tidying, logistics, and dirty dishes. These chores can pile up and feel like an unnecessary nuisance in our busy lives. But fear not! With the help of Finish® Quantum®, we’re bringing you five tried and true tips for a less cumbersome family dinner routine. The goal: less energy on the chores, more energy on your loved ones. Simple as that.
We know that small changes can pack a powerful punch, like the compact but mighty machine of a Finish® Quantum® detergent tab. It delivers the cleaning power of an overnight soak and can scrub away even 24-hour-old dried-on food, leaving you with sparkling clean dishes every time. Smart habits (like the ones below!), paired with smart products like Finish® Quantum® Detergent, are the keys to simplifying our dinner rituals every evening and making even the messiest meals feel manageable. Scroll on for five simple ways to de-stress dinnertime once and for all.
1. Plan your weekly menu ahead of time. List out the week’s menu on a family calendar. This will help you streamline grocery lists and meal prep, and it keeps the family in the know about what’s for dinner. Setting up a dinner action plan with family favorites like enchiladas and lasagna can also limit decision fatigue (yes, it’s a thing!), freeing up your mind for more important tasks. And when it comes to dishwashing the baked-on food that those cheesy favorites always leave behind, leave it to Finish® Quantum® Detergent to confidently tackle the clean-up. Get bonus points with the kiddos by adding in unexpected meals — like “brinner”, AKA breakfast for dinner, and rainbow mac ’n’ cheese.
2. Use your favorite dishware every night. Does anyone else feel like the meal tastes better when you’re eating it off the perfect plate? Taking a cue from Brit’s family, we’re big fans of mixing fancy dishes and casual ones, based on whatever strikes our mood — even if it means a mismatched table setting. Using dishes that feel personally special is an easy way to add joy to the meal and convince your little ones to try your new recipes ;) Bonus points if they’re dishwasher-safe to make the cleanup a cinch!
3. Rely on Finish® Quantum® to do the scrubbing for you. When it comes to doing your dishes, elbow grease should not be a requirement. Use Finish® Quantum® Detergent to do the heavy lifting on your behalf. The three chambers in each tab work together to scrub, degrease, and shine your dishes. That means a shiny, clean load of dishes *and* less time toiling at the sink. Win-win.
4. Make the rest of clean-up fun for everyone. Turn the rest of the evening’s chores into a fun activity: Put on some upbeat tunes and have yourself a family clean-off! Whether it's a table wipe-down race, a packaging leftovers puzzle, or a dishwasher unloading assembly line with the little ones, there are ways to make each chore enjoyable.
5. Use the newly-found free time for a mini game night. That time you would have spent scrubbing dishes? Put it towards a new family ritual. Take advantage of the time back by building new family traditions, such as card games, movie night, or storytime.
There you have it! You’ve got five fail-proof ways to limit the daily dinner hassle, while still enjoying all-important quality family time. Thanks Finish® Quantum® for making daily dinners a breeze :) Dine on!
Psst: We’ll be adding even more tips and tricks to The Art of the Family Dinner soon! Up next: Moms from The Co share how they keep family dinner easy and fun in an original Brit + Co video series. Stay tuned!
Scroll on for our editors' tips, recipes and home hacks that help to create and maintain family dinner traditions.