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Do You Eat Dinner Together?

by Tiffany in Children, The Homestead, Tidbits

do-you-eat-dinner-togetherThis week (Sept. 16-22)  is National Eat Dinner Together week. This is an event that was started in 1996 and although I am not a huge fan of the institution that stared it (National Pork Producers) I think it is a valuable thing to remember…eating together as a family is important. This seems like this should be an easy thing but that is not always the case. When I was living in Arizona we had a fairly large kitchen but the only open area for a table was pretty small. My youngest son’s highchair had to be put across the room and yes (ducking head) many times I let the other kids eat in front of the TV. Usually only one or two meals a week were actually eaten together. This time is so important to help nurture our bond as a family.

But I am happy to say that this has changed since moving into our new house. I have room for a large kitchen table AND we have a formal dining table/room too. My youngest son has moved into a restaurant syle highchair that pulls right up to the table. My parents found it for him at a garage sale! So now we have no excuse not to eat every dinner time meal together. The weekend breakfast meals are usually eaten together too. It is great! We talk, we laugh, we share stories, and we delight in each other’s company.

Of course some nights require extra planning…like Friday nights when my eldest son and I have our weekly “date”.  I have to make sure dinner is put together early so that we can leave AND since I will be gone I have to make sure my other kids have everything they need. I think that if I were to do more advanced meal plans that would help too. Some good resources for that are Meal Planning Central (even has vegetarian menus) and Dine without Whine.

Here are just some of the tips that I think are helpful to finding that family meal time togetherness:

* Don’t make it too elaborate. Simple meals that are easy to prepare are fine.

* Give crabby kids a snack. I make a little snack to give them before dinner so I don’t have crying, grumpy kids on my hands. ;)

* Give kids a task…have them set the table, count the tableware, lay out the napkins, take drink orders, etc.

* Have some conversation starters ready. For instance have everyone finish a sentence like…Something that makes me REALLY happy is….

* Don’t nag about how much food they are NOT eating. If they didn’t eat enough you can always give them a snack later. AND I know it sounds silly but if you are familiar with the TV show Yo! Gabba Gabba…you can sing the “There’s a Party in My Tummy” song. My kids like this tactic. ;)

* Mix it up. Once a week go outdoors and have a picnic. If the weather is bad try having a picnic on the living room floor.

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

9 Comments on Do You Eat Dinner Together?

  • Sharon@New Urban Mom

    Feeling a little guilty reading this. The last year two years I have let family supper time together really go…Between our teens after school lessons and activities and our crazy work hours…we’ve been having late dinners, often in FRONT of the television. When the kids were younger things were so different. SIGH…

    I’ve got to get our dinner hour back! Right now the only time we eat dinner together like civilized folks is on Sundays (I cook pretty traditional, more formal meals on Sunday). Thanks for the reminder!

  • I am sure it is difficult Sharon. My kids are still pretty young. :)

  • Christine Steendahl

    Hi Tiffany, thanks for mentioning my sites. FYI Menu Planning Central has Vegetarian but not Vegan… (yet)

  • Ooops..changed that Christine. Thanks for letting me know!

  • Activist Mommy

    I always eat with my kids. Their dad can’t due to odd work hours, but on his days off he makes an effort. I grw up in a house where we all ate in sperate rooms so eating as a familyis important to me. :)

  • Wow, this is a big one. In past generations, having meals (especially dinner) together was a must for the Chinese. This was the time for family bonding. But somehow with modern lifestyle, it’s not being practiced diligently. Reason? No time.

    Now that I have my own kids, my wife and I have agreed and committed to making this “practice” alive again. Trust me, many problems disappeared for a family who have meals together. (My wife’s family – aka in laws – still practices this until today. Their family closeness is unbeatable!)

  • Andy in San Diego

    Regarding nagging about not eating enough, I try to make sure I’m not putting too much on their plate to begin with. I always ask if they want more when they clean their plate. I figure it’s better than nagging and better than getting them accustomed to throwing food away.

  • George

    When I was younger, we never ate together. Dad & Mom was always working. I ate out or with my friends most of the time. It’s going to be different with my family. We’re going to eat as a family :)

  • Michael | Family Hack

    I love that this topic is getting some play. We dine together every night. It’s been fun to see how it affects our kids appreciation of conversation and food. One of our standard questions is “What was the best/worst thing about your day?”.

    My wife and I are also wine geeks which has created some interesting side effects. Our 6 year old always asks “what kind of wine are we having?”. I tell her where the wine is from and a little bit about the grape, the person who made it etc. It’s really awakened a curiosity about the world.

    She also like to sniff the wine and mimic Mom and Dad by rattling off a series of aromas. “I get pears, lilacs and flowers”. Meanwhile the two year old swirls her sippy cup like a wine glass. It’s pretty cute.