The Family Table - Slow Food for Families
Why it's Important to Maintain the Family Dinner Table
By: Kelby Carr on: Thu 31 of May, 2007 [02:01 UTC] (5375 reads)
In this day of working parents, high technology and hectic lifestyles, the family dinner table is easy to neglect. There are many benefits to maintaining the sanctity of the family dinner table, and adopting some of the Slow Food movement's credos for your family.
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Why the Family Dinner Table is Important
As parents, we get distracted and busy. Kids get busy and distracted. The family dinner table can serve as a hub of stability, a chance to reconnect, a way to promote healthy eating habits and time to process the day's events for everyone seated.
When the family members eat at different times, or all plop down on the couch in front of the TV, there is no connection and no together time. There is no respect for the food, which just becomes something you reflexively shovel into your mouth. Most of all, there is no talking.
How to Bring the Family Dinner Table Back
Even if you agree with the idea, you might be thinking now that Pandora's Box is open you will never get the family to congregate back at the dinner table. That isn't true. You need to state that you are doing it, and explain why.
Ask your spouse and children for ideas about how to make family dinners more fun, interesting and inviting. But make it clear that the family dinner table is returning.
Rules to Establish the Family Dinner Table
The keys to a family dinner table are consistency and routine. The way to get there is with rules, and by always enforcing those rules.
You should sit down with your entire family to discuss which rules make sense for your situation (it isn't realistic to insist on dinner at 5 for everyone is one parent works later most days and kids have after-school activities that run late). Find ways to compromise that ultimately lead to the goal of a consistent dinnertime routine.
Some suggested rules include:
- The entire family will eat together, no exceptions short of emergencies and hospital visits, on certain days or even just one day of the week. If you are just implementing the rule, picking one day might even be a good way to get acclimated to this routine.
- The TV gets turned off during dinner.
- Once dinner starts, everyone remains seated. Yes, that includes you, mom. Good planning, and letting all the kids know they need to be sure they have all items before dinner starts, helps.
- If you find there simply isn't a way for no jump-ups, then rotate who the jumper is. A side benefit is that once the kids do this duty a few times, they might be less demanding on mom during other dinners.
- Kids will help prepare dinners, which provides more time to connect for dinner. Assign different dinnertime chores, from preparation to table setting to doing dishes, to various members of the family.
- Turn off the phone during dinner, and insist all cell phones get turned off. There are few things that can't wait for a dinnertime to pass. Tell friends and family that you don't accept calls during this time. No one can enjoy a meal with phones interrupting.
What is Slow Food?
The Slow Food movement is devoted to counteracting today's fast food and fast life trends. It is committed to encouraging a return to using local, fresh foods.
This applies to families in the sense that most have fallen culprit to both fast food and fast life. Taking back the dinner table is a way to revert that and teach yourself, your spouse and your children the importance of stepping outside the hectic pace to enjoy the people you love.
You can further nurture the ideals of Slow Food and family by preparing dishes from fresh local produce, even if it means a quick meal prepared by tossing some diced vegetables into a pan to saute.
Your family will reap benefits in health and in spirit by nurturing the family dinner table.