Many traditions are dying out in modern life, and family dinners are – very sadly – one of them. Even if a family sits together at the same table the diners often pay more attention to their smartphones or tablets than they do their meals, and their fellow diners.
This travesty must stop! Family time is constantly being eroded, and it’s not just at meal times. The days when people used to gather around the TV for an evening are fast diminishing as well. People watch on-demand programs as much as they watch ‘live TV’, and often children stay in their own rooms to watch what they want on their own devices – or they prefer to spend their time watching YouTube videos, playing games or chatting to their friends via Skype, or all three at once.
Spending time together as a family is good for the soul, and is good for the family! So, how can we make meal-time family-time again?
One great way is to make the whole planning, cooking, and eating of a meal a family affair. Imagine a system in your family where children each take a turn in strict rotation deciding what the family is going to eat every Friday evening. Kids love the power in choosing what’s for dinner – and it’s a sure-fire way for them to make sure broccoli never appears on the Friday night menu.
Share cooking duties among those who wish to dine – which is everyone, with the rule being if you don’t contribute, then you don’t eat. Naturally, when it comes to hot stuff in the oven and on the cooktop that responsibility is left to the adults.
Maybe even go the whole hog and make a complete night of it, decorating the dining room: reds, whites, and greens for Mexican or Italian food, or something a little more patriotic if having some good old American fare. If the cooking and preparation doesn’t require too many hands then let the kids really go to town and turn the dining room into an authentically-themed restaurant. On these occasions you – as the parents – should tip rather heavily.
The most delightful aspect of these ‘family dinner’ evenings together is to take plenty of photos and video of some of the bigger occasions. It’s great to settle down every now and again to look back through the treasured times you spend together as a family. It certainly beats trolling through loads of boring old YouTube videos!
So, how about it? If you want to rescue dinner time from the clutches of mobile devices and social media, then suggest a regular dinner time where the rule is ‘no work, no food’. You don’t have to do it every week of course – how about once a month at first. How can something that brings a family together be anything other than a bad thing?
And, don’t forget to take plenty of photos and video! That way you’ll amass an entire library of family events to look back on whenever you feel like it.