If babies came with instruction books, one of the main chapters would surely include family mealtimes. Eat with your children! Eat breakfast with them, lunch whenever possible, and every dinner. Talk to them. Listen to them. Share bits of your day, and ask them about theirs. Develop strong communication habits, and maintain them as your child grows and matures.
Eat Together at Every Meal
Many families today claim they are just too busy to eat together, but I’d have to ask, too busy compared to what? Surely our grandparents were much busier than we are. We do not have to milk the cow or gather eggs from the hens before we can fix breakfast. We don’t have to prime the pump, or start a fire in the stove before we can cook. Never has food been more plentiful. We have freezers and refrigerators and cabinets bursting with options that may have been raised all over the globe. We can easily serve fish from Alaska, blueberries from Maine, potatoes from Idaho, with horseradish from Poland, all at the same meal.
We all have the same amount of time in our day. We just have different ways we chose to spend that time. I would suggest that having a family mealtime is so important, that we should take a second and even a third look at our schedules, and see what we may have to eliminate or rearrange to make family mealtimes happen.
Plan Time for Meal Times
I saw a bumper sticker one day, that read, “If I’m a housewife, why do I spend so much time in the car?” It made me laugh, but later in the evening, as I was folding yet another load of laundry, I felt closer to tears. I was a car-wife! I felt married to my Ford Econoline conversion van. That relevation propelled me to write the article “Coming home, Staying home” for The Teaching Home magazine. And after I deposited the paycheck, I realized it was time to take my own advice.
Prune Extra-Curricular Activities
Find the time to eat together! And do it daily! Some studies have suggested that when families eat together, the children are less likely to do drugs, do better in school, and are more likely to build solid relationships. I’d suggest that such studies aren’t even necessary. Spend time with your kids, and they’ll learn from you. Don’t spend time with your kids, and they’ll learn from their peers.
Isn’t that reason enough to return to the family dinner table?
As a side note… when I went searching for photos of families eating dinner together – families with children – I could not find any! The only family dinner pictures I found were extended family holiday celebrations. Don’t let this become your tradition. Make family meals a daily activity. It will mean more to your child in the long run than soccer, tee ball, gymnastics or music lessons.