Spring is in full bloom! With some creativity and a little planning, these ideas for Springtime family fun will help your family really savor the season.
Plant an herb and/or vegetable garden
Spring is a great time to plant a variety of veggies and herbs. The Urban Farmer Seeds and Plants website is a great resource in terms of how to go about planting everything, what to expect, when to start, etc. Your kids will love getting their hands dirty (without getting in trouble!) and the whole family will get to enjoy the tasty benefits of having fresh herbs and vegetables once your seeds have grown. Another bonus: your harvest could be added to some of your Dream Dinners meals!
Paint rocks together
This creative craft project starts with getting your family outside. The next time you go on a walk together, have your kids collect small rocks to bring back home to paint. Then let the artistic energy flow! If you’re in need of some ideas, this Color Made Happy page has a ton of inspiration, from silly faces to unicorns and minions.
Check out a new park & take a picnic!
If your family has gotten into a routine of visiting the same neighborhood park all the time, challenge yourself to visit someplace new. Make it an occasion, by taking a picnic along. Many of our Spring menu items would make ideal picnic meals – check your local store to see the full menu and find the most picnic-friendly meals available. If you’re stumped in terms of which parks to try out, here’s a few links for some of our regions. If you don’t see your city below, try visiting your local Parks and Recreation website for a list of parks in your area.
- Seattle, WA: seattleschild.com/10-best-parks-kids-seattle
- Sacramento, CA: blog.sacramento4kids.com/best-parks-for-kids-in-sacramento
- Cincinnati, OH: cincinnatiparent.com/10-cincinnati-playgrounds-worth-the-drive
- Austin, TX: austintexas.gov/blog/make-austin-your-playground-these-family-friendly-parks
Make Spring cleaning fun
Last month we talked about self care Spring cleaning and there are plenty of ways to make Spring house cleaning fun and less of a chore for you and your family too.
- Have your kids help you gather any and all papers that you no longer need into a bin: old newspapers, magazines, mail, etc. Then use what you’ve gathered to make a campfire that night! Find a neighborhood park with a fire pit you can use, and bring s’mores for added incentive.
- Set up some friendly competition between your kids – who can clean their room the fastest, who can gather the most books/toys, who can find the most change in the couch cushions!
- Turn it into a dance party clean-up! Play some fun, upbeat music and dance with that broom (and your kids!) between sweeping, dusting, or whichever cleaning tasks you’re tackling.
This February, how about taking care of that special person in your life by celebrating the loving heart you share? It’s simply a great time to remind you to actually schedule those date nights at least once each month.
Ask someone to watch the kids and start planning. And planning a date can be shared or flip-flopped; one date night is yours and the next is his. Dream Dinners makes dinner easy, but sometimes you just need to head out to mix up dinner plans.
We’ve been scouring websites for date night ideas that are sure to be fun, interesting and sometimes over-the-top exciting.
Here are a few ideas we love:
- Plan to learn something. The Escape Adulthood website encourages taking a class together. It can be anything from painting to photography to glass blowing, just make sure it’s a skill that’s new to the both of you.
- Pretend it’s your first date and relearn things about your partner. Even reinvent your story. The Date Night Wingman website says to stay curious with someone you’re familiar with. By going out on first dates over and over, you get that first kiss again and again.
- Mini Road Trip to escape the norm. Your road trip shouldn’t be far, just far enough that you go someplace new or exciting. Lifehacks.io website that you can stay somewhat close to home and enjoy a small town or antiques market, or travel a little farther and enjoy the journey along the way.
- Staying home? Try sparking a little bit of competition either by playing board games, a few rounds of indoor golf using cups or cardboard boxes or video games. If you want to up the ante, have a water balloon battle or Nerf gun fight. Check out therealisticmama.com website for more ideas.
- Scavenger Hunt. Stylecaster.com offers up a fun date by presenting your loved one with date clues in a sealed envelope. Give subtle hints and directions if you’re the ultimate destination. If you’re going along for the ride, each stop along the way can get bigger and bigger in terms of intrigue or simple size if it’s food or beverages.
Whatever you choose to do, keep date nights fun and keep them on a regular basis.
By Sherry Jennings, Dream Dinners
Not everyone has the opportunity to be raised with parents who love to cook, who know their way around the kitchen and enjoy sharing that passion with their families. Some of us had that opportunity and we’d be brought into the meal making process at various times to stir, chop, taste, or simply salivate during the wait.
I was raised in such a family. My mom was Italian and spent long Sunday afternoons stirring pots of sauce even in the summer. My dad, an Englishman, enjoyed cooking just as much, although he cooked things he truly had a passion for. His family baked daily so the muffins and breads were on a seemingly endless cycle. He also loved hot sauces and would grow his own peppers and spend hours canning his well-known and sought-after “hot source.”
From fish to pasta, vegetable bakes to anything grilled, my parents kept me involved and I grew up loving home cooked meals shared with my family and friends.
Sure, today’s family schedules are jammed packed and events are endless. That’s why Dream Dinners is the perfect partner to keep families connecting, sharing and bonding through the power of the dinner table. I’m pretty sure my mom would have appreciated the effortlessness dinners Dream Dinners could have provided when we spent our summers at the lake house in Pennsylvania.
It’s that time of year when we begin thinking of trips over Spring Break, Memorial Day and throughout the summer. The calendar fills up quickly, and so do mom anxieties when trying to make sure every detail is in place and the trips ahead are memory-worthy, not in the Griswold family sort of way.
The Dream Dinners team is always looking for ways to simplify planning, and road tripping is no different. Most of us have raised our kids and some are still juggling high school and middle school schedules, while a few are still changing their kids’ diapers. We are always talking trip hacks to make everything so much easier on the entire family. Adventures should focus on the journeys and destinations, and that’s possible when a few tried-and-true planning steps are handled right from the get-go.
One way to get the kids psyched about the trip, not just the days out of school, is to bring them in on the planning right from the dream stage. When they are excited, the anticipation well outweighs a last-minute food stop.
There are ways to get the kids involved. Start with a list of destinations, break out the maps and research at the library, or online, all the details about where you hope to land. If you use a paper map, which is so much more fun to mark up Ken Jennings-style, take time to point out some fun spots along the way. Are there scenic vistas? Giant trees? Historic markers? Hikes? Places to play?
For many of us September signifies the start to a new school year and combined with extracurricular activities your quality family time dwindles. Don’t let additional responsibilities discourage you from getting a great meal on the table – instead continue to enjoy homemade family dinners with the help of Dream Dinners.
These dinners are great in the crockpot.
- NEW! Slow Cooked Lasagna Soup with Parmesan Breadsticks
- Honey Chipotle Pork Roast With Almond Green Beans
These dinners cook in under 30 minutes plus they travel well for a quick dinner on-the-go.
- Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches on French Roll
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Stuffed French Bread
- Carne Asade Steak Tacos
Did you know that kids learn about food and eating at a very young age? That getting your kids involved in the kitchen can help shape their eating habits for the rest of their lives. Positive experiences about food early on in a child’s life may help them develop healthy eating habits in the future. A recent study found that children who are exposed to cooking through culinary classes or aiding a parent or family member in preparing their meals in their home will be more likely to choose healthier foods not only in your own home, but when they are outside of your home, too. Researchers also found that the children who were involved in meal preparation had a higher intake of fruits, vegetables and dietary fiber and an increased willingness to try new foods.
Need some fun ways to get your kids involved in the kitchen? Try these tips for all ages:
As they hit the high school years, moms of teens know our once chatty kids can become aloof or too busy to connect. They have irregular work hours, a challenging class load, and are busy with friends and dates.
There are moments though, to capture.
Make a point to greet your teen when they get home, even if it’s an odd time. My son’s curfew was 11:30PM, so I always stayed up to say, “hello” when he arrived. If he got home from work at 8:30PM and was ravaging through the refrigerator for something to eat, I would sit down with him while he ate.
When my teen did homework, I’d offer to help. Sometimes we’d do
Summer is the perfect time to focus on eating plenty of delicious, ripe seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with disease defying vitamins, minerals and fiber. An adequate intake is good for your skin, immune system, digestion, and will help ward off high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Often our lifestyle goals focus on what not to eat; what if we tried the opposite? How about increasing our produce intake?
While visiting from out-of-town, Grandma (my mom), was having breakfast with us when her cell phone rang. This was a predicament for the kids who turned to me wondering what I’d do (knowing we don’t allow cell phones at the table). Since Grandma has disregarded our house rule before, I thought it a good time to kindly ask, “Do you mind not answering that?” She looked at me, thought for a ring, and then answered it anyway! We sat trying to enjoy our meal while she carried on a conversation with someone else at the table. She eventually got up and walked away. But, by then, everyone was nearly done and our ‘quality time’ felt spoiled.
Now, Grandma LOVES her grandchildren. She didn’t realize what affect her choice had on us. No doubt, we’ve all made decisions that have been detrimental to quality mealtimes together. The point of having dinnertime ground rules is to enjoy one another. Although unfortunate, this experience taught my kids a little lesson on why we don’t allow cell phones at the table – and I didn’t have to preach.
Since I’m making the effort of prioritizing family meals, it’s important to guard our time from unwelcome interference. Although some meals feel like ‘eat-and-run,’ I want to make room for more: real discussion and heartwarming laughter.
When eating together, try these mealtime ground rules:
Would you like to really know how someone feels or what they’re thinking? We ask the question, “How are you?” all day long, but do we really know how a co-worker, spouse, or even our children are doing? Just Observe, Wait, and Listen (OWL), it’s that easy!
We adapt this approach from Speech Pathologists who began using OWL in language development. It’s a valuable communication tool for us all.
OWL encourages us to notice what has captured other’s interest and to patiently wait as they communicate about it. Listening shows people their value. When we aim first to hear what’s on their mind, rather than dominating conversation with our thoughts and opinions, we’ll discover just how much we’ve been missing!
Tonight, at your family dinner, I challenge you to OWL.