Families with Style: Creating Rituals

Set up a regular time to be together, and you'll see your family life really come together

How our dinner brings us together:

At the start of dinner, we each take a turn telling about the favorite thing that happened to us that week. This sets a really positive tone for us all: Instead of coming together and griping about what went wrong during the week, we start our family time together on an upbeat note. Having a preset subject helps the kids feel more at ease about talking at the table. When guests come to our Friday dinners, they join in as well.

What I serve at our weekly dinner:
We all love roast chicken with either roasted potatoes and fresh vegetables or lasagna. In the summer, we often grill hamburgers or hot dogs and do more of a cookout dinner. I love to bake desserts, and often my children help. We make brownies, chocolate chip cookies and different easy cakes '- we'll make them ahead of time and save them for Friday nights. One thing I am a stickler about is never using a mix. I think baking from scratch is just as easy, more fun for the kids and much yummier!

How we make time for nonsense:
On the weekdays, our mornings are very rushed. I have to get myself dressed, make my daughter's lunch and help both my daughter and son get ready for school. There's no time for elaborate breakfasts. On Saturdays, when our pace is more relaxed, we have a special routine of making pancake batter and then making pancakes in special shapes. My daughter likes hearts and Mickey Mouses, and my son prefers just traditional round '- but huge '- pancakes. It's just a time for us to be silly together '- something I feel is important to have when they're young.

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