When we bought this house I remember several people told me to not worry about a formal dining room because people find this room to be a waste of space and don’t use them. I was surprised that of all the things on my house wish list, that was the one thing criticized the most. A few years ago, the Today Show was interviewing a woman who was encouraging what she called the “slow down” movement. This “slow down” movement was encouraging families to eat one meal at home a week. One meal? That’s it. At that point in my life we were eating at home practically every night. Now, I’m told that we are entering the stage in life when we’ll be eating less and less at home and more and more on the road. Really? My kids are only 3 and 5. Does it really happen this soon?
Currently, on average we eat as a family 6 out 7 evening meals together around our kitchen table. The only meal we don’t all eat together is Wednesday nights when I and my daughter spend it at church. And on the weekends we eat all of our meals at home minus a 1-2 times a month we eat lunch out following church. Oh, and our meals aren’t from a box. I cook, yes, actually cook every evening meal (minus Wednesday when my husband cooks).
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of work planning and preparing food for my family. I work all day and then once my day job is done; I cook dinner. I get it, it’s a lot of work. It’s tedious. It’s not appreciated work. I get it. I’ve felt the pressure of getting a meal on the table. I’ve heard the whining “is it done yet?” just to hear “I don’t like it” at the first glance of the meal. I get it. It’s simpler to run through the drive-through to not hear the groans and moans. It’s more relaxing to grab food to go and eat in front of the television.
But what I also get, is the benefits of eating dinner together as a family at our dining room table. My kids are gaining valuable experiences eating together at home. They are learning to cook and the feeling of achievement from making something delicious. From helping to cook they are learning numerous skills and their knowledge is growing. We, as a family, have time to learn from each other and actually have a conversation about how our days have gone. We get to say Grace and thank God for all he’s given us. We are bonding as a family.
If you’re a family that eats out or grabs fast food several nights a week, I’m not meaning to shake my finger at you while peering over my glasses. Rather, I want to encourage you to consider what you are missing out when you don’t eat as a family. Take some baby steps and start eating all together at the same table and see what you learn about each other.