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February 08, 2018 03:48 PM

 

With four kids (and another on the way), a hit show and a small empire of businesses, it’s safe to say that Chip and Joanna Gaines have their hands full. And while the Fixer Upper stars are ending their HGTV series to spend more time with their growing family, there is another everyday habit they have to keep them feeling close.

“In our house, dinner is synonymous with family time,” Joanna writes in her “Cup of Jo” column in the spring 2018 issue of The Magnolia Journal. “Recently, it has felt like the best chance for all of us to really connect — something that I find myself wanting more of as my kids are getting older.”

The designer explains how kids Drake, 12, Ella, 11, Duke, 9, and Emmie Kay, 7, used to gravitate toward eating out if given the option.

RELATED: Every Sweet Family Moment Chip and Joanna Gaines Have Shared of Their Life at Home in Waco

“But lately, I’ve noticed that the kids want to stay in even when we could go out,” she says. “Instead of dinner at a fun restaurant, they ask me to stay home and for me to cook.

WATCH THIS: PEOPLE Exclusive! Chip & Joanna Gaines Reveal the Real Story Behind Their Decision to End ‘Fixer Upper’

 

Although she admits their choice “surprised” her at first, it opened her up to a bigger revelation.

“Right now, our lives are the busiest they’ve ever been, and I think a leisurely meal around the table is just what my kids need to feel grounded,” she says. “They really seem to appreciate when I make this effort in the evening.”

RELATED: Chip and Joanna Gaines Are Making a Big Addition to their Waco Farmhouse

Whipping up an entire meal can be trying for the busy mom, but the intentionality — the theme of this issue — behind the act makes it well worth it.

“Once I tune in to the fact that my family receives my cooking for them as an act of love—that it’s actually something that makes them feel cared for—it shifts my entire perspective,” she says. “In this season, more than any other, my kids are telling me what makes them feel cared for—and I am intent on listening.”

For Joanna’s full letter, pick up the spring issue of The Magnolia Journal, on newsstands February 13.

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