Up until about 2-3 years ago, family meals in our home were hit-and-miss. I struggled in the kitchen. [Who am I kidding, I had problems even grocery shopping!] No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t pull my domestic act together. (You will find my online confession HERE.)
Then I discovered E-Meals and mealtime was forever changed. (You can read about that experience by clicking HERE.) I learned a great deal from the monthly subscription – how to shop, about scaling down recipes to fit my family’s needs, using leftovers to create “new” meals, and creating relevant side dishes. As silly as it may sound, that E-Meals subscription “fixed what was broken” by showing me how to easily and consistently create family meals.
Why go to all that work? I had been reading books like The Intentional Family by William J. Doherty and The Family Dinner by Laurie David and Kirstin Uhrenholdt which led to further research. It became increasingly difficult to deny the importance of meeting together over the dinner table. Some of the most noteworthy benefits:
* Better academic performance
* Higher self-esteem
* Greater sense of resilience
* Lower risk of substance abuse
* Lower risk of teen pregnancy
* Lower risk of depression
* Lower likelihood of developing eating disorders
* Lower rates of obesity
You will find a whole host of resources and information to back up these facts at the Family Dinner Project (click HERE for details).
Suffice it to say, it made a huge impression. I was motivated to do something I didn’t even really enjoy at the time! And the payoff has been HUGE – we eat out less (enjoying it more when we do), spend less, and waste less. Even as the boys get older… ESPECIALLY as they get older, mealtime will remain a constant in our lives. It is our way to connect and catch up, even if for only 40 minutes of face-to-face time.
There are all sorts of ways of making it work, even with busy schedules: having breakfast as the family meal, having a special dinner every Sunday, or scheduling meals in advance. The Family Dinner (one of the books referenced above) is full of creative ideas for busy families. Even so, if you want to do this thing you will need to make it a priority! Guard mealtimes and cherish that time together.
If you are interested in learning more about the table from a biblical perspective, I have a resource for that as well! It just so happens it was the focus of Beth Moore’s teaching in Lesson 4 from The Law of Love lecture series. She shared excerpts from the book Table Life – Sharing the Hospitality of Jesus in Your Home by Joanne Thompson, referring to table life as a time of moderation, sanctification, and celebration. It brought a whole new meaning to family mealtime that was truly inspiring.
The whole point of all of this is not to create a big guilt trip for any momma out there – NOT AT ALL!!! If your heart really likes the idea of family mealtime but your schedule feels too hectic, begin with one meal. Then schedule one more meal (no matter how far down the road), get it on the calendar. Take it one meal at a time. Don’t set your expectations too high and don’t quit if family members complain, just keep on keeping on!!!