Apr
5
2014

The Importance of Family Meal Time

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What is your meal time like at your house?  Calm and cool or pure chaos?

I am positive that it looks different for every family.  For some, it happens on a regular basis and for some, they are lucky if they sit together for meals at all.

We definitely fall somewhere in the middle.  I’ve always known that family meal time is important.  My family wasn’t perfect at sitting down together growing up, but I have good memories of the times we did.  I have a wonderful French grandmother who made meal time so much fun growing up.  She was exuberant and had such a love for food that it rubbed off on everyone enjoying a meal with her.  No one ever went hungry at her house.  In fact, you were so full you could hardly move :)

What is it that keeps us from sitting down together? ……busy with the kids, school, homework, sports, other activities and everyday life.  We are all guilty of it!

The struggles we face are trying to get everyone to sit down together at the same time.  Between sports and homework I have yet to find a time that sticks.  I think being flexible from day to day will help.  I also want to work on having my boys help set up the table and help with the clean up.  Some extra bonding time is always good right?

I am making a goal this year to be better at making meal time a priority.  I know how important it is and that’s a good enough reason for me!  I want my kids to remember the times we sit and talk together during the week and not being so busy that it never happened.

Family Dinner Time

Currently, our family meal time is very simple and I mean simple.  The picture above was actually  me “trying” lol!  I put some rosemary sprigs from our bush outside in a vase and set the table a little nicer than usual.  The boys said, “Wow Mom, what’s the occasion?”  If I’m being honest, I’ve got no problem using paper products.  We actually use plastic cups from Costco on a regular basis.  This is what works for us.  I think we all need to be ok if things are not always perfect.  I want to focus more on the connections and conversations we have at the table than what type of placemats I have.

Some of the things that we do well are definitely having home cooked meals on a fairly regular basis.  Since I write a food blog, that one is pretty easy, there’s always food around :)  I also love the conversations we have at the table.  Aside from our daily conversations and discussions about school, as often as we remember, we like to ask the boys “What’s one thing you did today that helped someone or what’s one thing you can do tomorrow to help someone?”  This way, if the boys didn’t help anyone, they can think about what they can do the next day.

Dr. William Doherty, who I had the pleasure of meeting at Barilla, has studied the importance of family dinner time for years and brought up a good discussion that having the kids help clean up was very important.  I was happy to hear this!  He also brought up really good points that having regular family dinner helps your kids do better in school, improves behavior and provides a safe home feeling.  I am thrilled to be partnering with Barilla and Share The Table Family Project.  I love that Barilla promotes and supports families to share more meaningful meals together.  This is so important to my family as well.

I love that Barilla is helping support those in need with this program as well.  For every post using #ShareTheTable, Barilla will help provide the monetary equivalent of tem meals to Feeding America, up to one million meals!

Family Dinner Time

This is exactly how our table looks.  Messy and happy, lol!  Our 18 month old loves to throw is food and make a giant mess.  We all sit together and get a good laugh watching Pax eat.

I am excited to make family meal time an even bigger priority this year.  I think letting go of having to do things perfect will be a good step for me.  As long as we are all together and enjoying our meal is good enough :)  We will also have “family clean up” time as Dr. William Doherty has recommended.  Yay!

What are your struggles with family meal time?  Do you have any successes to share with the rest of us?  Would love to hear it!

Be sure to help raise money for Feeding America by posting #ShareTheTable on your social media pages!

Share The Table

Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post on behalf of Barilla, however, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive sentiments towards Barilla or their products.


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  1. 1
    Donna Oliphint says:

    Bravo! So glad you and Barilla are promoting families sitting down to eat together. I never realized how important it is until I heard Devi Titus speak on the subject. She has a beautiful book, The Home Experience.

  2. 2

    This is a really important post. We all know that sitting down to a family meal is super important, yet so many struggle with this. I know my family does. I am so glad that you mentioned flexibility. If you can’t sit together every night, try to do it 5 nights a week. I think people get caught up in thinking it has to be every night or not at all. I also cracked up that this post was sponsored by Barilla pasta. They are my go-to choice when I need to get a quick dinner (or lunch!) on the table!

  3. 3
    Szkent says:

    Love the honesty of your post. I often struggle to get us to eat together as my husband has a 45 minute commute from work. Usually it is myself and my girls eating together and my husband eats after us while the girls play a bit before bed. However more often than not he walks in the door and ten minutes later I have to get the girls to bed. Love love Barilla pasta. It has never stuck together for me and doesn’t turn into mush. I do not mind spending money on Barilla because I know they make quality product. In fact Amazon usually has amazing Subscribe & Save deals on multipacks of their pasta. And completely off topic, is that mushroom plate from Anthropologie? If so I am obsessed with those plates! I have about 10 right now, all different designs.

  4. 4

    Pax’s eyes in that photo are gorgeous! Like water. Just so precious.
    And I love this. Love the message. My husband and I don’t have kids yet, but we had gotten into the terrible habit of eating on the coffee table in front of the TV. I found myself never liking my dinner, sad, and desperate to feel like we’d spent time together…switch to eating every meal at our tiny dining table, using a salad bowl and placemats (pretending to try), and I can’t even tell you how much happier I am. It’s crazy how much taking a time out really helps. Plus, it makes me feel like we both truly enjoyed the meals I work so hard to prepare every day.

  5. 5
    sheri forrester says:

    We had meals together just about every night, all through the years from 1 to 4 kids and their papa was a fireman so he wasn’t at every meal, but the rest of us were! Everyone helped set and clear the table and rotated with dish duty! They also helped make weekly menus! Some nights got late with sports practice, or school activities, but we all still came together at the table! We still do now, with added spouses and grandkids trying to follow the same! Because we all loved that!

    • 5.1
      Jenny says:

      I love that you make time to eat together! It can be tricky, but I love the connections made at the dinner table :) Thanks for sharing.

  6. 6
    Kristen says:

    I love that your focus is on connection and not perfection!
    Great post, Jenny!!

  7. 7

    I’m committed to this. My family always ate together growing up, and it makes a huge difference. I was always so sad to learn that my friends didn’t get to eat with their families. It’s hard, but I want this for my family now too. Thanks for sharing Jenny!

  8. 8
    Maria says:

    Pax is too cute for words! Great post!

  9. 9
    marla says:

    Family meal time is sooooo important. Great post Jenny!!

  10. 10
    Traci says:

    My biggest struggle is making a big meal for my family and then having them say “I’m not hungry, I’m not eating or I don’t want that”. UGH! It makes me crazy!!! Granted my 2 kids are 19 and 14 so I should be thankful they make time to eat as a family as often as they do. We usually eat together at least 4-5 times a week.

  11. 11

    Great post, Jenny. As you know, family dinner is one of my passions! I’ve been having my boys regularly help with dinner prep and it make them eager to sit down and eat. They are so proud of what they have made. ;)

  12. 12
    Lucy says:

    Although my children are grown, we try to regularly get together and share a meal. When they were little, some of our best conversations happened around the dinner table. You are doing great and I love your pretty table–and paper plates are perfectly ok too! Anything you have to do to get everyone together relatively stress free is ok. Thanks for sharing–you’ve inspired me to write about a couple of traditions that we had when mine were growing up. I’ll link to your post when I get it done.

  13. 13
    Larisa says:

    Dinner time in my family is crazy; and that is exactly why my kids love it. I am wondering if other families have similar experience and how they handle it. Brief description: http://touchedbytherain.com/2014/04/11/dinner/

  14. 14

    […] might remember a couple months ago when I wrote about making time for family meal time.  I have been trying to make it a goal to sit down together more often during the busy week with […]

  15. 15

    […] might remember a couple months ago when I wrote about making time for family meal time .  I have been trying to make it a goal to sit down together more often during the busy week with […]

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