Like most others in the upper Midwest I have spent the last couple evenings covering my tomato plants with old sheets, and bringing in the flowering plants. You not only can feel the crisp air in the mornings, but you can literally smell Autumn inching its way in.
It is back to school/mom and dad cab/build a routine-time of year. The time of year where we can easily get lost in the mix. Where our Summer freedom has ended along with the extended daylight hours.
A colleague of mine, Dr. Grace Freedman from eatdinner.org speaks of Back to School Time and how we can easily get lost in time or Dr. Kathleen Cuneo from dinnertogether.com with her 5 Tips for Successful Family Meals. Family dinner is typically on the chopping block during busy times, but let’s see how the benefits of family dinner simply outweigh the excuses.
A few simple suggestions could easily begin.
- Commit. Start with one day, two days, weekdays, weekends. Make it honest, attainable and real.
- Absolutely no distractions! Leave your tv off, your cell phones in the other room. It goes back to #1 being committed. For 40 minutes you give your family the time it needs and deserves. Move the focus of your home from the tv to the dining room table. This takes time, but simple steps like starting your day at the table or for moms and dads, enjoying adult conversation over cup of hot cocoa after the kids are in bed.
- Plan it out. Meal Management is key in saving money. On average, Americans spend $4.50 per person eating at home while spending $8.50 eating out. Even if you only plan the meals you eat at home it is a start. (#1) Commit.
- The inevitable question of “What did you learn today?” is mostly likely responded with a resounding “nothing!” If your children are young games are great ways to spark conversation. If you have teenagers around your table the topics might be best started by them. Creating conversations around the table is the catapult for benefits of Family Dinner.
- Enjoy this time. We may have a lot of suggestions, but if you do not enjoy dinner time the viability of it becoming more of a traditions seems less likely. Get everyone involved so that they gain ownership of dinner and before long it will all just be second nature.
So we challenge you in this time to commit. Get everyone involved, start with dinner tonight and discuss the commitment with everyone. Take our pledge and bring back a friendly tradition….Family Dinner.