Ten years ago, before we had kids, my husband and I would very often eat in front of the TV. We enjoyed it, and we saw no reason to change. But a couple of years later when the first baby came along, we knew we needed to make a switch. We knew the kind of family we wanted to have: connected to each other instead of electronics. We wanted to raise conversationalists, and not consumers.
So for over eight years, we have eaten at the table as a family. The TV is off, the phone goes unanswered, and iPhones, books, and newspapers are not allowed. It is just us.
We talk about school, tell jokes, and discuss current events. Sometimes we kvetch about our days. Sometimes my daughter complains that we are not having macaroni and cheese every single night.
As my kids grow older, it does get more difficult. My kids take swimming lessons, and my daughter takes ballet. Because of school schedules, these activities take place after school, which means we get home just in time for dinner. These nights do require preplanning, in that I need to put dinner in the crock-pot so it’s ready when we come home just in time for our dinner.
We’ve been doing this so long that it is now a habit. Instead of our pre-child habit of eating in front of the boob-tube, our growing family has a habit of sitting together at the table for meals. My kids know no differently.
As my kids grow even older, I suspect it will become more difficult. Band, sports, and other teenage commitments might be seen as more important than just eating dinner with the parents. But I believe that by instilling these habits now and encouraging our uninterrupted family time that my kids will come to value it, and know that our table is always for our family.
Photo credit: MoToMo