Being a Mom, myself, I have been contemplating the importance of having dinner together as a family. Right now my son is still young and goes to bed before we eat, however this will not be the case forever.
There have been so many studies on the importance on family dinners that I find amazing. Several have indicated better grades in school, more involvement in extracurricular activities, fewer behavioral problems - the list goes on and on. But it's just so difficult to do! You have soccer practice, baseball games, piano recitals, PTA meetings. Not to mention, you just get tired after a looong day of parenting. Then you have to play magician and come up with a menu that pleases everyone and is healthy as well. It's so hard!
Right now, my husband and I just sit on the couch with our plates and relax together. Not the best habit, I guess, but it's nice. I can imagine that it's going to be hard to make the adjustment to family dinners so I've been researching and brainstorming for ideas to make the transition easier.
Idea #1: Involvement. I think one of the easiest ways to get everyone on the "Family Dinner Bandwagon" would be to involve everyone in the process in one way or another. My husband can pick out a side dish, my son can help decide on dessert. One can set the table, one can help clean up. I think if everyone has a say in what goes on and what they eat, they will be much more happy with the arrangement.
Idea #2: Flexibility. If Jimmy has a game or you have a late meeting, make a point to do SOMETHING together. Eat lunch together, if possible. Go out for dessert as a family after the offending event. As long as you have that designated family time, I think it's ok to sway from dinner every now and then.
Idea #3: Positive Conversation. I'm a firm believer in saying out loud what you are thankful for - and why - on a regular basis. It just reminds you that no matter how bad things are sometimes, there are things to be happy for. I'd like to make it a ritual to go around the table every night and say one thing that each person is thankful for that day. Also, I think that dinner needs to be a pleasant event - so save the lectures and scolding for other times.
Idea #4: Stick With It! I think family dinners have to be made a priority in order to work. If you don't make them important, you'll stop doing them. Sometimes they are just going to feel like a chore. But, if you remind yourself of why they are important, it will be easier to keep doing.
I don't know, maybe my ideas are a little idealistic. I'm not at this point yet, so I don't know entirely what to expect. I'm hoping that I will be able to do this for my family - and for myself. Because, after all, the time goes so quickly, and I want to savor every second.