In a world where we seem to eat on the run, it sure feels like our kitchens are getting bigger… our dining rooms are getting a little smaller, and devices around the dinner table feel like the norm. It sure feels like we have lost the art of dining together, doesn’t it?
With life so busy, it feels really difficult some days to gather everyone as a family to dine, doesn’t it? It always seems easier to grab our plate of food and desperse into our own spaces. Or sometimes it feels like it’s not even a matter of choice as we run our kids to their extra curricular activites (which almost always seems to run over the dinner hour). If you have more than one kid, you know just how difficult it can be to try to be in two places at once, leaving you to grab dinner through the drive-thru window and eat in the car on your way to the next activity.
Is this really the new normal?
We can mindlessly can consume too many calories eating on the run or being entertained by our devices, and it doesn’t give our brains have a break either. Even now as I sit in a coffee shop, there are more people sitting alone with a screen (me included) than people chatting it up with a good friend. Seriously 6 out of 7 tables… alone with a screen. Granted it’s a work day, but still… you get my point right???
Did you grow up eating around the dining table together as a family?
I grew up with little extra curricular activities to go to. We went to a Christian school and our family lived on a tight budget, which left us with little money to do much of anything outside of our school activities. But the bonus was, we spent most dinner times together around the table. The food was almost always prepared fresh and simple, and there was always room for whichever friend we had over that day. We even sometimes started our meal off with devotions together! There was never a lack of food, and conversation was a must.
It was a place where we could process our day together and refocus. We got to gel together as a family and maybe we were even a little healthier by giving us time to digest and enjoy our dinner;)
It can be difficult to dine with little kids…
Being a mom myself now, when our kids were little, dinnertime sure seemed like one of the most difficult times of the day. Someone almost always seemed to have a meltdown, and let me tell you… little people sure don’t like to sit very long! It felt like chaos! We
When our girls were little (our son wasn’t born yet), we had our pastor and his young family join us for dinner one evening. It was such a yummy time together, but while our own kids cried… and fell out of their seats… and wandered around the living room (you know what I am talking about right???), their young boys seemed to sit perfectly around the table and ate all. their. food! Like, how did they do this???
It really bothered me that our girls didn’t know how to sit properly around a dinner table. I didn’t feel judged by any means, I just wanted my kids to learn the art of family dinnertime together too, and knew that if those kids knew how to sit, of course, ours could learn too, right?
That was it! It was from that moment I started to make dinnertime as a family a priority. Even if someone was throwing a temper tantrum, or I wanted to cry myself at some point during the meal, we were going to enjoy dinner together, tears and all!
Dinner together is often the highlight of our day
As the kids got older, it became easier… and even fun to have our dinner together! It actually has even become the highlight of our day! I love how everyone shares what is going on in their life, and even get a little silly. They are still falling off their chairs, but mostly from laughing too hard.
Family dinnertime has not come easy though. We really have to fight our busy culture as activities, work, and meetings often threaten to take away our special dinner hour together. For that reason, we have kept activities for our kids to a minimum. Too many activities make our kids (and us, our pocketbooks, and our marriages) too stressed out anyways. It does our kids good to be bored and learn to entertain themselves, right? (but that’s a whole other blog post:))
Now that our kids are growing up, they are starting to live their own lives. Getting everyone together at the same time around the dinner table seems few and far between these days, but that’s ok because they know they can join us if they are home.
The table is always open for whoever happens to join us. I have always felt like it is like the 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. The Lord will always make sure there is enough food to stretch for those gathered around our dinner table (even if I have to pull out a batch of buns from the freezer).
Let’s be intentional and have dinner together
So, what is my point in all of this??? After having a beautiful conversation with a gentleman this week about needing community in our lives again, and also feeling like the Lord has been pressing this on my heart, this is the core on how to begin to restore our homes… and our hearts.
To open up our homes to the people around us and be a community, and really, what better way to do this than to eat together? So let’s make our dining rooms and our dining tables a little bigger, so we can share time together with those around us.
We can try to be more European, and a little less Asian, can’t we? (our Chinese students say they don’t talk or eat as a family very often in their culture as they are too busy working or at school)
Did you know that dinner as a family around the table a few times a week, is actually proven to keep your kids out of jail? We need this more than ever as we watch the value of family fall apart around us.
So be intentional, my friend, to make time to gather together as a family. To pray, eat and fellowship together. In a world surround by anxiety, let’s take off the intense pressure this world demands of us, and refocus by taking a break. Let’s live by example and preserve our family time so our family doesn’t fall apart. Let’s leave a legacy our kids can continue on. And don’t, I repeat do not allow screens at the dinner table (just a suggestion for max quality time).
If dinner time is just not possible, try to make your gathering times in the morning for breakfast. Or at the very least on a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon. If you have empty spots around your dinner table, invite your neighbors, friends, or have extended family over. We need people! In a day where loneliness is on the rise and we seem to live our friendships from behind a fake screen… make your dining room big again… meltdowns and all (just embrace the chaos, my friend).
Make it fun and simple! Even if it’s just a frozen pizza with a side salad, or even delivered to your door!;)
How about your dinner table? Do you allow your kids to screen while they are eating? Are you texting while your family is playing their fav game at the dinner table with no one talking? Take notice. When is the last time you had a family conversation? When was the last time you asked your kid what their fav color is or who their best friend is? When was the last time you asked your husband how he is feeling? Or how his day was, and really listened? When was the last time you took the time to invite someone over for dinner?
I don’t have it all together either my friend. We all are independent lunch and breakfast eaters in this house, and sometimes we will even watch a movie while we eat dinner together (which I consider a win at this point cause we are still together). I have to fight hard to have our focused family time at least a few times a week. And I find it really difficult these days to take the time to invite someone over to dinner, as life is just busy! But our meal times together have definitely been worth fighting for!
I pray that my kids will choose to make dinner priority in their own homes when they are fully grown (and maybe we will even be invited!)
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