As we all rush about our busy daily lives, how many of us can honestly say that we sit down at the table to eat together as a family every day? This is something that, in days gone by, was just how things were done. I remember, as a child, eating together every evening. Sometimes Dad was a bit late home from work and we’d start without him, but he would always join us when he got in and we would discuss the day’s events as a family. The thought of eating at separate times or, heaven forbid, eating different meals, didn’t even enter our heads; it just wasn’t an option!
So how come things have changed so drastically? Well, gone are the days of most people working 9-5 jobs. There are so many variants in shift work these days that each person within a household could be working at different times and they become, to coin a phrase, ‘ships that pass in the night’. Not only that but people have much busier social lives nowadays, not to mention the wide and varied extra-curricular activities of children. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, of course it isn’t, it’s just that we have many more options available to us than we did 30 years ago! Of course, another major factor is the vast development of technology. How many of you are guilty of playing on your phone whilst eating, or watching TV? It is rather saddening to see a family out at a restaurant sitting in silence, everyone staring at their phones! What happened to good old conversation? I fear it has been, not lost, but somewhat buried a little and a renaissance is needed.
But why? Why does it matter so much if a family dines together or not? A major benefit is that of communication because talking through the stresses of the day with loved ones can help to prevent mental health issues later on, as there is no bottling up of emotions and gripes, and so they don’t build up to become a much bigger problem. You may not realise it, but children can also pick up valuable language and social skills in the process. Meal times may be the only time of the day when all members of a family are in the same place at the same time and so in this technological world of computer games and television, it is even more important to spend this time together.
Eating together can also help to promote more sensible eating habits, in turn leading to better weight and health management, and also setting a better example for the next generation. If children see adults eating healthily and using good table manners, then they are far more likely to follow that example and continue the trend through to future generations. If you are eating at different times, then children don’t necessarily see what or how the adults are eating and therefore these ideals don’t become ingrained in their minds as the norm. Eating together can help you to become more connected as a family because even though you all lead your own hectic lives, coming together and talking about them strengthens the bonds that are already there and so creates lasting relationships.
For those whose busy lives make it nigh on impossible to have these dining experiences regularly at home, why not make time to eat out as a family? Booking that table at a certain time will force all members of the family to join in and enjoy the opportunity. So make it a regular event! I’m not saying that family meal times should be happening every night, just that it should be a regular enough occurrence to enjoy the above-mentioned benefits. So put that phone away and come and enjoy some much needed family time! It’s almost Mother’s Day, followed swiftly by Father’s Day, so jump on the excuse to take your loved ones out for some good old family bonding! (Book here: https://www.thequartercafe.co.uk/book/)