Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Family Dinner Table: Making Memories

We all have memories of our childhood, whether good or bad, they are they engrained in our minds. As far as I can think back, I remember sitting on the couch eating dinner on tv trays in front of the tv. Mom was great at cooking dinner every night. As soon as it was done though, we all rushed to grab our food and eat in front of the tv. I can't even tell you what we were in such a hurry to watch.

Think about it. What are your memories of dinner time from when you were a child? I'm sure some of you have very fond memories and then others, not so fond.

Early in my marriage I continued the tradition my parents had started. Neither my husband or myself felt that it was necessary to eat at the table, so in front of the tv we ate. Eating dinner at the table was only for special occasions, like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We continued to eat like this for many years until Scott and I started working opposite schedules. I worked nights and he worked days so we never saw eachother. We decided to start eating dinner at the table so that all of us could at least see eachother every day.

It was ok. We enjoyed it, but as I started cutting back hours at work I was home more. We slowly started reverting back to our old ways of doing things. It was the children who brought up eating together as a family again. We didn't realize it had made such an impact on them. They had never told us how much they loved it and how special it was to them.

At that point we talked it over together and decided to make it a point to eat together at least at dinner time. We did this initially for our children, but we have found that we love it as much as they do.

Is it always a wonderful experience where no one bickers and we have great, meaningful conversations? Not with 6 children! At first we had to train them, especially the littles ones, how to sit and wait for their food, to say grace, and then not to get up until they were given permission. I can guarantee that while it is not always picture perfect, most of the time things are great. It is actually quite humerous. We just enjoy being with eachother.

So you say, "What's the big deal about eating together at the table and not in the livingroom instead? Aren't we still eating together?" Yes, you are eating together, but you're missing the point. The point is to foster togetherness while building healthy relationships within the family. Your focus is on eachother and not the tv.

I have 5 great reasons why I think it's important to eat together as a family:

1. I've already mentioned this one earlier. It builds healthy relationships in the family. Are you to just sit at the table and eat in silence? No, of course not! Talk, laugh, be quiet at times. Just enjoy eachother.

2. It makes lasting memories that you and your children will be able to look back on with fondness. Hopefully, they will pass on this wonderful tradition to their familes too.

3. It forces you to slow down for just a bit. We all have such busy lives nowadays. This forces you to sit back and relax with your family for awhile.

4. It's a great time to have family devotions. It further opens the door for communication and gives spiritual training at the same time. Our children have felt more comfortable asking questions that they might be too embarrassed to ask in church. It's really wonderful to see a spiritual truth "click".

5. I had to throw this in, being frugal like I am. It usually means mom will have dinner planned, and cooked rather than eating out. Now it's not always the case, and even we order out at times. As a general rule though, you do plan meals and cook more.

Now, Scott works late at least a few days a week. God has blessed him with extra work, but it does make him late at times. On those days that I know he will be late, I serve snacks late and then we all eat together. I have little helpers that set the table and the olders are in charge, with mom's oversight of course, of making the table look pretty. After a hard day's work it sure is nice to sit down to a tastefully decorated table along with a hot cooked meal.

Can we always eat every meal together every day? No, sometimes we have something that comes up. We busy ourselves far too much at times. After seeing the benefits of eating together though, I have purposed in my heart to eat together at least once a day. We're making memories one meal at a time.

Tell me, do you find eating together as a family at the table important? Are there any special mealtime traditions that you do as a family?


D&Xmommy said...

I do think it is important and hope to start doing it once I have a dining table and a room to put it in :)

Teresa @ A Life At Home said...

For the longest time we didn't have a seperate room. We just stuck a little table in the corner of the kitchen. It worked.

Carlie Faulk said...

We do it - every night. We just feel it's important. Besides - how else am I going to marry them off when there older? I need them to have good table manners so they can impress their future spouses and in-laws! LOL!