As a child, my family sat down to dinner with each other, pretty much every single night. At the table.
It was like Leave it to Beaver, with lots of casseroles made with cream of mushroom soup and whining about broccoli.
In all seriousness, I have some great memories of sitting down with my family for dinner. Even if it was something simple, it was grounding and comforting to know that at the end of the day, we’d all gather and share a meal.
Now, as a parent, I’m struggling to get my family to the table. My husband usually doesn’t get home from work till around 7:00 pm, and my preschooler simply can’t survive if he eats dinner any later than 5:30 (he’s secretly an old dude who would gladly rock the early bird special).
What usually goes down is this: I sit down for dinner with my son and the baby, around 5:30, then reheat a plate for my husband when he arrives home.
Not ideal, but for now, it’s reality. And we do our absolute best to sit down together on the weekends.
Why am I so focused on family dinners?
Here are a few reasons:
- The family table is an important place for children to learn about and practice proper nutrition. A 2000 Harvard Medical School study of more than 16,000 boys and girls aged nine to 14 reveals adolescents who shared frequent meals with their families ate more fruits and vegetables and less fried food, saturated fat, and trans fat. They also consumed more calcium, iron, folate, fiber, and vitamins C, E, B6, and B12.
- Families who eat together tend to be closer. It’s an opportunity to connect and share.
- Sharing meals on a regular basis improves socialization. It’s a great time to model proper table manners!
- Children who regularly dine with their families show lower rates of depression, do better in school, and are less likely to abuse alcohol, use drugs or smoke cigarettes. Girls are also less likely to develop eating disorders and tend to have better self esteem.
Those are some pretty motivating reasons to corral the family to the table!
Dinner together every night is a challenge. Believe me, I know. And I know that as the children get older and have after school activities and think their parents are SUPER LAME, eating together will be even more difficult.
Even if it’s just not realistic EVERY night, I am shooting for both weekend nights with the entire family, and I will make a concerted effort to sit down and eat with my son, not just hang out in the kitchen and
play on the iPad do dishes, the rest of the week.
How about you ? Does your family sit down for dinner together? How do you make it work?