Bringing Back the Family Dinner

We have always been in the habit of having family dinner. My husband and I both grew up in homes where family dinners were simply part of our life. It never occurred to me that we wouldn’t sit down and eat together. We just did. I thought everybody did. And maybe back then, most people DID.

But these days our lives have become so busy with kids’ activities and demanding work schedules, two income families, and single parent homes, that unfortunately, regular family dinners have started falling by the wayside.

My friend Christine Koh recently told me about a powerful new initiative called The Family Dinner Project, and I’m excited to share it with you. Their mission is to inspire families to enjoy food, fun, and conversation together.

How Kids Benefit from Family Dinners

Even though I already firmly believed that family dinners are an important part of building relationships and creating a healthy family life, I found this infographic from The Family Dinner Project enlightening.

For example, I had no idea that dinner table conversation may be even more beneficial than reading to our kids, and that family dinners reduce depression and anxiety and increase self esteem. It makes sense to me that regular family dinners would build connections with siblings and parents and help develop better eating habits, but did you know that there’s a strong link between family dinners and academic performance?

It’s something to think about.

Here’s another reason why I like The Family Dinner Project. Not only are they on a mission to inform, but they also educate by providing resources to help families make the most of their family dinners. Take a look at their Tips for Busy Families and these Conversation Starters.

I freely admit that our dinner table conversations are more often mutterings about our daily happenings than an intelligent discourse on current events and politics, but I’d like to bring back those types of meaningful conversations. I often think that I should be asking our kids what they think about things in the news and encouraging them to discuss religious and political ideologies, but then by the time we all sit down, I’m usually too tired to think about much else than asking them about their day at school. Which, of course, is also important to discuss. I’m eager to use some of the conversation starters provided by The Family Dinner Project and see where it leads.

They also have an initiative to inspire dinner-oriented acts of giving. You can join the movement by sharing your dinner-oriented acts of giving. For example, invite someone over for a meal or donate to a food pantry. Then tag your Instagram/Facebook/Twitter photos and updates with #familydinnerforward to inspire others.

If regular family dinners aren’t your habit, I’d encourage you to try it. As you know, I provide meal plans here on my blog every week. Meal planning definitely helps us keep our family dinner commitment strong. You can sign up to receive weekly updates if you’d like. The Family Dinner Project also has a slew of recipes and meal planning ideas to help encourage regular family dinners.

Regular doesn’t have to mean nightly. Due to our kids’ activities, we don’t manage family dinners every night, but we do our best. We average 4 or 5 meals together as a family per week.

If family dinners are something you’ve never done before, maybe start by having just one a week. It could become a new family tradition to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be fancy at all. Even if you’re just ordering pizza, take the time to sit down together for 10 minutes, eat together, and share about your day. If you have more time, make it fun and try some of these dinner games. If you try it, let me know how it goes!

I partnered with The Family Dinner Project to share this post. All opinions and experiences are my own.