Why Did Family Mealtime Disappear?
A woman in her late sixties is enjoying her morning coffee at a local coffee shop. She couldn’t help but overhear the conversation 3 women are having at a nearby table. The women, who look to be in their thirties, are discussing the busy afternoons they have after they pick up their kids from school. The woman had heard this kind of conversation before from her own grown children.
“Don’t forget that Pop Warner football sign up is this week,” one woman said.
Another woman replied, “Thanks, I’ve got it on my calendar. Sam worked all summer with a private quarterback coach. We need him to have more playing time this year so he will have the experience he needs when he gets to middle school. I also need to find a new competitive cheer team for Annie. The team she is on right now just doesn’t seem to be serious enough. They only practice once a week. ”
The third woman said, “I hope Richard’s 3rd grade teacher doesn’t give too much homework this year. He has soccer twice a week plus games on the weekend, guitar, robotics, and karate. We aren’t home until 7:30 most nights. “
After listening to this the older woman thought about life 30 years ago when her children were young. Her children took piano lessons and played on the occasional sports team but what she remembered most vividly were the nightly meals her family spent gathered around the dining table discussing the day. She smiled when she thought about her daughter loosing a tooth after biting into corn-on-the-cob and the time her son ran for class president and they planned his campaign around the dining table. These family memories brought her comfort. Family is everything. Kids grow up so fast. As the older woman gathered her things to leave, she wondered why these young mothers felt the need to keep their children so busy. Did they realize what they were doing and really think through the schedules of their children? Maybe, it is just what young mothers think a “good” parent does?
7 Reasons to Gather Around Your Dining Table
All cultures and religions celebrate by gathering around a table. The table is a place to laugh, rejoice, and connect with others. Think of the shape of tables. Tables are a closed shape. They are designed to gather around. Whether round, square or rectangular the table is designed to be able to see the faces of family and friends while enjoying a good meal.
You make time to gather around the table to celebrate birthdays and holidays but months can go by and the family dining table hasn’t been used. Dust gathers on the dining table instead of family and friends. Eating happens on the go or while standing up or in the car. Don’t you deserve a nice meal while connecting with loved ones at the end of the day? Sometimes it helps to be reminded of why making the effort to connect with family and friends is important. It is nearly impossible to gather as a family around the table for every meal but by being aware of the benefits you can begin to make gathering around your family table occur more often. These are just a few of the reasons you should try:
- It creates a time for conversation. Putting phones away and checking in with your family allows a child to learn conversational skills.
- It is a time to encourage your child to share feelings and details about his/her life. This helps him/her understand that his/her feelings are important and that they matter.
- It creates an opportunity to make family decisions together. You can plan your next vacation or solve a problem that needs to be addressed.
- It is an opportunity to teach your child manners (free resource) or try Emily Post’s Etiquette, 19th Edition: Manners for Today (Emily’s Post’s Etiquette). Every home should have a wonderful resource like this one.
- It encourages healthy eating habits. (In my family we have a tendency to eat too fast. Eating at the table while making conversation helps us to eat more slowly.)
- It helps you be aware of what you are eating and how much you are eating. Is your plate well balanced with proteins, vegetables and grains? Do you always get a second helping?
- It is an opportunity to invite your child’s friends to the table and have conversations with them too.
My posts focus on creating pretty tablescapes and table centerpieces, easy meal ideas, and ways to connect with family and friends at the table. Please sign up for my newsletter if you want to learn more about using your family table: the secret to a healthy family. Click HERE to sign up!