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Does your family dine together? How often?

It's dinnertime!  We are a few weeks into the new school year, and the schedules are getting a bit hectic.  What I realize: we only have one evening during the Monday-to-Friday stretch when we can all sit down and have dinner as a family, a calm time when we can catch up over our days, check in on school, friends, new developments.  Only one evening?  I feel it is not enough.

It's said that sitting down to a family dinner eases family stress, makes for happier children, even results in teens who are less likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs.

I believe it.  I want to have it.  How many evenings during the week do you manage to sit down to a dinner with the kids?

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With soccer, swimming, school meetings and work events, most weeks it's really hard to gathering around the table together for a meal but we do our best. We have family dinners together at least five nights a week, more or less. I've noticed that our most important "family talks" happen there so I do everything in my power to make it happen. I've found my kids enjoy it too, and notice when our schedules get too busy for them.

Planning our calendar and meals, and using tools like our slow cooker totally help me make it happen.

At least one parent always sits down to eat with the kids, 7 days/week. Weirdly, twokids-oneparent is a lot calmer and nicer (peaceful) than twokids-twoparents, though we're working on it. All four at least 3x/week.

We sit down together most nights, though I can't say they are always pleasant catch-up/bonding time. My son is extremely picky and often complains about the food regardless of the boundaries we've set with him. He and his sister usually get into at least one argument. We occasionally excuse one or both of the kids from the table. But we also eat breakfast together every morning and I work at their school, so we have probably too much bonding time.

Typically, we eat dinner together every night. It's really the only opportunity we have to all be together. However, we only eat breakfast as a family on the weekends.

We eat dinner as a family almost every night. Occasionally my husband or I will have an evening work obligation and in that case, the other parent eats with the kids. Our kids are school-aged and involved in a few activities, but nothing that goes past 6:30pm. On those nights, our meals are super simple but we still sit down to eat together.

Pretty much every night. I make it my big priority.

I love to sit on the couch and eat with or without the tv or something to read. I do this with my boys more often than I sit at the table with them. A friend of mine grew up that way and loved it while her sister hated it and went on to emphasize eating at the table with her own family.

I do both sometimes, I really enjoy dining at the table together, sometimes it's fun to eat on the couch while watching TV. I don't think you have to have everything formalized to be a family. Nor do I think it automatically opens communication doors----I think whatever works for your family is what's best and there don't need to be any rules.

my parents over emphasized having a big family meal every night, to the extent that my sister and I were not allowed to do sports or activities during the all hallow "dinner hours" 5-7:30 (or after 7:30 for that matter, that was homework time). I feel this was unhealthy as we learned that food was more important than fitness. With my kids I sometimes wish we had more quiet evenings at home, but it is important to me that my kids develop a love of an active lifestyle and learn that food centered activities are not the only way to connect with family. I also sometimes feed one or both kids early, because to me a family dinner is not worth delaying bed times, and my kids will just snack to much and then not eat if dinner is late, they are hungry by 6. That being said we do have dinner together when we are all home. I think it is up to you. If you feel like you aren't seeing enough of your family cut back, but don't schedule your life because of some study or cultural norm.

Well we used to have separate meals, but recently we try to have a meal together at least 5 days a week especially on Saturdays. It's a great thing cause we leave it as an opportunity for my sons to share how their day went, and it's a great way to practice their etiquette.

If we were all home, we will certainly do it. But that is not always possible, so then we just make do without having it and do family time in other ways. It's a nice thing to have but if you can't do it, it's not essential- there are other ways to get the things you need in terms of family time. I mean, is everyone else always home at dinner? Not everyone I know at all. Ultimately, when we do it it's not a 'magic time'.. it's certainly not 'the only time we all come together', that would be weird to me- what is going on with the rest of the time that you are never together except that one hour and why that one hour so much? When we do it, the kid squirms, squirrels, fusses, and it's often more hassle then joyful. But, we still do keep trying with the idea that we should do it when we are all available since that is often not the case. The days it's not possible are because my husband doesn't get home until 6:45 and the kid is hungry at 6. He already pushes for 2 snacks before dinner, if it went to 3 snacks, he wouldn't eat dinner at all! Then he wants to see dad and spend time when he gets home and not have that time just be eating, so I eat later with my husband which is when we ate before the kid anyway. The kid's best meals are actually alone... I offer to go and sit by him and maybe snack and chat, etc., but he does better with that being his sit and be quiet by himself time, if people are there, he is wiggly. I think this may come from his preschool, where they had options of tables of varying sizes including the choice to eat alone. It just seems to help the food get eaten! Otherwise, it's hard to take a break to eat. Ultimately, I think he'll pick up the skill of eating with others, but it's certainly not a priority for him which is ok for me... he eats on his own and he's plenty social otherwise. I think if you really don't come together any other time, that makes the meal more important, but that;s not everyone.

Yes! For every meal that we are at home together, we all eat together. We know no other way.

One of our kids has an activity TWTh during the dinner hours and I miss the family all sitting down to dinner together when we check in, unwind, tell jokes or talk about the day. It's a nice thing to do, the whole family. It doesn't feel quite balanced right now with only one night (Monday) when all five of us can sit down to dinner together, and we might adjust the activity schedule if it feels too much. I just like the time to check-in, cover essentials/to-dos ("you have to sign this or that" or "are you all interested in going to a game this weekend" or what not). I also like the giggle time because we actually like to tell stories and chit-chat for a short while over dinner.

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