When’s the last time you had dinner with your family? I don’t mean when’s the last time you all sat on the couch watching TV or playing video games and eating dinner at the same time, but rather, I’m referring to the old school tradition of setting the dining room table with plates, cups and silverware. Everyone sits together and there’s no screens or devices to be seen?
Yeah.. it’s been a while since many of us have shared a meal with the family outside of Thanksgiving or Christmas meals. But if you have a family, it’s a tradition worth saving. Our world is so fast-paced and anything considered traditional is now bad.
But there is nothing wrong with forcing your family to sit together for 30 minutes or an hour, without interruption from games and phones (that includes work calls after hours), making eye contact with each other and purposely discussing your day.
This generation is one of the last generations that may remember what a “family dinner” is, and if it’s something you think fondly of, you might want to teach the tradition to your children. And if you’re a couple only, use the time to eat mindfully, give each other your undivided attention and really connect.
It just might be the one time a day that you do it.
Five tips for starting (or re-starting family dinner) today.
- Set a time for dinner. Demand that everyone sit for the entire time unless they ask to be excused.
- Have a formal beginning to the meal, i.e. a blessing for the dinner, a moment of gratitude or simply thanking the cook for preparing the meal.
- Strictly enforce a no-device rule during meal time. This means no open laptops on the table or chair, no cell phones in view of the diners and no TVs on in the background.
- Have everyone (including children) discuss their day. Ask questions. Get interested. Be engaged.
- Formally end the meal and have everyone leave at the same time.
After not eating together for a while, you might be amazed how resistant some members of the family might be to these guidelines, however, persistence and consistency rule the day.
Start with one meal a week (maybe Sunday dinner?), pizza on Friday’s or whatever works for your family. The most important thing is to just get started and expand the number of days you’re eating together until you’re happy with your family’s meal time.