It’s the start of a new year, and it’s a great time to start new family traditions. This year is the perfect time to start family meals together if you don’t already.
Growing up, I remember having dinner with both of my parents and my sister most nights of the week. Of course, there were nights that it didn’t work out. Nights that we weren’t all eating at the same time. Nights that someone was out late. But as often as possible, we all sat down to dinner together.
When I was in high school, I played on the Varsity Girl’s Golf Team all four years. During the Fall season, there were often nights I would be home late from practice or a match, so I missed the family dinner. But that was my choice to play on the team, and it was only a couple nights a week for a few months. Besides that, the most we missed a family meal all together was about once per week.
Depending on your family schedule, it doesn’t have to be dinner that you eat together. Maybe you are all getting up in the morning at the same time, and breakfast is a meal that you can share. For our family, since Justin and I both work from home, we tend to eat all three meals together, but I know that isn’t a possibility for most families.
It’s better if you can do the meal without tv or radio or other distractions, but it’s not necessary. For a long time, we watched Gilmore Girls during dinner. It was on ABC Family right at the time we always ate dinner. We all loved watching it, even my dad (who probably wouldn’t admit it today!).
But why? Why should you make it a point to have at least one family meal together?
Together we make a family. There’s a reason that quote is so popular. You aren’t a family if you are by yourself. You are a family when you are together. By eating a meal with each other every day, it helps to build this sense of togetherness.
Chance to Talk
Communication is always critical to any relationship, including that of husband and wife, parent and child, sibling to sibling. In other words, families need to communicate. When you are all sitting around the same table, it gives you a chance to be able to talk. You can talk about your day, talk about what’s going on in your lives, talk about anything that’s making you happy or anything bothering you. You can talk about family matters and plans. This is one time per day that you can count on being together to talk with each other.
Just as a family meal is a great time to talk, it’s also a perfect time to come together every day to have a moment of calm. Our schedules are always so busy; sometimes we don’t know if we are coming or going. When we sit down at the table, even if we only have a short amount of time, it’s still time that we have carved out together. It’s time that we can spend without running here and there. It’s a rare moment of calmness that the family can spend together.
Whether you realize it at the time or not, by spending this time together every day you are creating strong family bonds. These are the types of relationships that you don’t appreciate until they are long past. Now, at almost 30, I can look back at the time we spent together as a family and realize how precious that time was, and how much it has molded me into who I am today.
Bonus: Work Together on the Meal
Bonus points if you can work on the meal together. My mom has never been much of a cook, so my dad is the one who usually made dinner for us all. I always enjoyed helping him make the meals, and we would go grocery shopping together most of the time as well. When you get your kids to help with the meal, it gives them a sense of pride in accomplishing the task and will sometimes make even picky eaters try something new.