When my kids were small having a family dinner was no big deal. It was easy. There wasn’t any arranging needed. Back then our dinner hour was on the early side- anywhere between 5:30 and 6:30 pm. Most nights we were all home so eating together happened routinely.
Times have changed. My boys are now 14, 12 and 11 and that 5:30-6:30 time slot is filled on most days with multiple activities. Somehow we still manage to make our family dinner time work. It’s inconsistent at best, but we scramble and find the time to sit, eat and catch up. Some nights this happens slightly after 8 pm and other nights we just can’t make it work. But we always make a strong effort to carve out those few minutes to break bread together. And sometimes that’s all we get- those few minutes. But it’s so worth it.
Why Finding the Time for a Family Dinner is So Important
According to The Family Dinner Project:
Over the past 15 years, research has shown what parents have known for a long time: Sharing a fun family meal is good for the spirit, brain and health of all family members. Recent studies link regular family meals with the kinds of behaviors that parents want for their children: higher grade-point averages, resilience and self-esteem. Additionally, family meals are linked to lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, eating disorders and depression.
The things we’ve learned at the family dinner table are priceless. I’m not sure I’d know who danced with who at the school dance or the long list of bad words with incorrect meanings that they learned at summer camp if it wasn’t for that big batch of shared chili. There are times when the giggles still take over, and those three boys feed off of one another throughout the meal. As frustrating as endless giggles can sometimes be, I wouldn’t trade those giggles for the world. I can’t seem to shake that someday those boys won’t be sitting nightly with us during our family dinner.
Not only do we try our best to eat together, but we also belong to a CSA and we cook together. Cooking together is a fantastic way to spend some quality time in the kitchen, creating cherished family conversations.
I’m lucky enough to have found an organization, The Family Dinner Project, that supports and provides resources for family dinners. And they’re in my neck of the woods-Cambridge, Massachusetts!
The Family Dinner Project’s mission is to inspire families to enjoy food, fun, and conversation together.
The Family Dinner Project has a very cool contest lined up and I’m hoping you’ll participate! Between December 2-16, join the kick off of #familydinnerforward, an initiative (and fun contest!) to inspire families to give – within the family to one another and/or to those outside the family.
To participate in the #familydinnerforward contest here’s what you need to do:
- Snap a dinner/giving-related photo and share it via Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #familydinnerforward.
- You can share as many photos as you like and all photos tagged on Twitter or Instagram with #familydinnerforward between December 2-16 will be entered to win prizes from Lenox!
- Two winners will be drawn at random and will receive four 4-piece plate settings of the Lenox Entertain 365 pattern of their choice (estimated value of $344-400 depending on pattern chosen)!
US entrants only. Be creative! But here are some examples of dinner-oriented acts of giving you’re welcome to use:
- Cook (or buy) a meal for a neighbor or someone in need
- Invite someone for family dinner.
- Collect and donate food items to a food pantry
- Help deliver meals via a community organization
- Cook a meal together at home, where everyone has a job (this is a gift to the
person who primarily does the cooking!)
- Give the gift of meaningful conversation (check out the conversation starters about #GivingTuesday HERE)
- Talk about giving during family dinner and show us what you decide to give this
I have no doubt that eating together really makes for better-adjusted kids….and better adjusted families. The combination of family meals and the concept of giving- what could be better? Take some time to join in the #familydinnerforward fun and help inspire others to do the same.
How many times each week do you eat together as a family?
This post represents a compensated editorial partnership with The Family Dinner Project. All storytelling and opinions are, of course, my own.