Being busy has become a way of life for so many of us. We are all moving so fast, with crazy schedules and endless things to do and get done. Sometimes it seems days go by and I have not had a meaningful conversation with members of my family. It is a constant challenge to carve out time to connect and talk, beyond just “did you pack your homework?”, “what is your after school schedule?”, “did you pack your hockey bag?”. It is not really what I want to talk to my kids about but day to day life takes over.
As hard as it sometimes is, we try to have dinner together, at the table, without electronics or phones, without TV, so we can actually TALK to one another at least a 3 to 4 times during the week. It does not have to be an hour long event either… just 20 minutes makes me happy. Some weeks admittedly it is better than others and with one child in the throes of applying to college and two teenage boys playing endless hockey games, its not easy. But I push for it each week and here is why:
Families that have dinner together just a few times a week have happier and healthier kids, better performance in school, lower drop out rates, even lower rates of substance of abuse. There are endless studies that have been done on this topic and the research is there: consistent family dinners matter.
It does not have to be a feast or a gourmet event either: just a simple healthy meal with those you love around the table sharing the events of the day. It keeps us connected, keeps us focused (even if for just for 20 minutes) on what is most important.
It’s not easy for most of us and as much as I spend my days at The Dinner Daily talking and thinking about how to make dinner easy, healthy, and happy for our members, I struggle with it on those busy weeknights too. But when I need a nudge to stay on track and remind me why, I think of why its important. I think about the fact that my 17 year old daughter is about to go off to college next year (no I am not ready at all) and family dinners with my 3 children around the table is about to all change. Its keeps me pushing for it, even on nights I feel like just “winging it”.
My kids might not realize it today, but I believe someday they will look back and realize something important: those family connections made at the dinner table: they matter.