Does your family eat at the dinner table together? This question came up during a conversation about nighttime routines in our respective homes and I was embarrassed to admit that we never, ever sit down together and eat dinner as a family.
Megan shared that dinnertime at her home is purposeful. They eat as a family, at the dinner table, and without distractions. At my house, my husband and I are usually on the couch in front of the television while our teen daughter sits at the kitchen island with her headphones and YouTube.
My own childhood very rarely included sit-down family dinners. As far as I can recall, there was no emphasis on eating together. The memories I do have of family meals included arguing.
We took a poll on our Instagram to how many families dine together. 84% of responders answered YES to regularly eating dinner all together as a family and 71% of responders eat together as a family four or more days a week.
Why We Don’t Eat Dinner as a Family
I was floored by this data. We eat as a family only when we dine out and for holidays. Other than that, we never eat dinner together. Reasons vary: schedules, relaxation over togetherness, and habit. There’s also the displeasure of forced family time. Plus, my misophonia sucks any enjoyment out of dinnertime.
These are valid reasons that make sit-down family dinners difficult in my home but every time we eat? Yikes.
I’d like to reverse course but we are so far to one side of the spectrum right now that even one meal together a week sounds overwhelming. I worry my family might balk at the suggestion but I worry more about my irritability towards the sound of slurping and chewing. Next thing you know, I’m throwing dishes in the sink and complaining that if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.
But, there is a crazy amount of data that supports the importance of family dinners. I can’t ignore that.
Family Dinnertime Challenge
I love a good challenge so I am going to make space for family dinner time over the next month. The first step was to put it on my calendar. I selected one weekday evening and one weekend evening where our schedule is clear.
The goal is to eventually balance the number of times we eat together versus the times we don’t. I’m not declaring to toss out the old way. Sometimes dinnertime is a bowl of cereal in front of a Housewives episode and that’s just the way it is.
If you’re in the minority like my family, I challenge you to do this with me.
Steps to Eating Together as a Family When You Don’t Know How
- Put it on your calendar and let everyone else in your family know it’s on the calendar
- Plan what you’ll be eating (ask for requests, family favorites, a themed meal, a new recipe)
- Think about the environment (set boundaries about electronics, find a playlist of music)
- Fill in the gaps (do you have what you need, who will set the table, who will clean up?)
- Plan for conversation (Q&A topics, non-polarizing trending news)
- Make it extra special (dessert, speciality drinks) or keep it as simple as you want
Wish me luck and send ear plugs.