I recently read a blog post about sitting down together as a family and eating dinner. It got me thinking about my own family growing up and how we always ate together. I assumed it was just a thing everyone did but it turns out that I am totally wrong.
When I was growing up, sitting at the table together for supper (dinner for you Americans) was mandatory. Every night my mum cooked and we all sat down together and ate whatever she made while talking about our day. After dinner, my brother and I took turns cleaning up. It was our routine. After school was a snack, then off to play outside or inside depending on the weather and time of year. Then dinner, a family devotional, dishes and then we would settle in to our evening. Sometimes it was homework, sometimes it was off to any number of different activities at church or school and sometimes it was just relaxing reading or watching tv together. Whatever it was–that was the routine my family had every single weekday. I am sure there were times I hated it, especially as teenager. But now as an adult with kids of my own I recognize how important it is and it surprises me that more people don’t make this a priority.
And before some of you get all defensive–yes I realize that for some people with crazy work schedules etc this can be difficult. But the reality is there are plenty of families who are having dinner in front of the tv or in separate rooms and so on.
What are the potential benefits of a family eating together as many nights of the week as possible?
Communication: I feel like we talk less and less these days in general. As a society it seems like we are spending more time staring at screens instead of each other. I know I am guilty of it. Having 30 mins or so a day where you sit down as a family with no other distractions seems more important now than ever. With all the crap going on in this world it seems like a great way to stay connected and have healthy and open communication with your kids about what is happening in their lives.
Healthy Relationship with food: Before I had kids I didn’t really realize the importance of this. When we sit at the table together our girls are watching us eat our fruits or veggies and learning the importance of it. Right now they both love fruits and veggies, I know that might not always be the way it is so while I can I want them to follow me when it comes to that. If they see me and Chris eating the healthy stuff as well as whatever else we are having they will learn about balance when it comes to food. We are constantly telling Audrey these days she needs to eat so she will grow to be big and strong. More often than not we get her to eat by having her race us taking bites. It works for us. Although I am also realizing the importance of not forcing it.
I liked what THIS article had to say about it. The last paragraph specifically.
— It is time to bring the “family” back to the dinner table. Sharing dinner together gives everyone a sense of identity. It can help ease day-to-day conflicts, as well as establish traditions and memories that can last a lifetime–
At 1 and 2 our kids are obviously still young but I am a firm believer in what we teach them now will only help as they continue to get older. Audrey–who will be 3 in August–is a little chatter box. I have tried to start having her tell Daddy about her day when we are eating dinner. I want her to feel included. As Lauren gets older we will do the same with her. My hope is that as they grow and life becomes busier that we will always find a way to make dinner time OUR time. Some may say it’s impossible but I don’t believe that. I grew up with it being a priority and I intend to give my kids the same experience.
All of that being said, I think there are things we can definitely be better at as a family and dinner time. For the month of July I want to commit to eating dinner with no phones and no tv. We have gotten better about not being on our phones but the tv is usually always on in the background.
How about you? What are you dinnertime traditions, rules etc? What can you do better or what do you want to change?