I grew up eating my dinner with a tray on my lap in front of the TV watching Neighbours (an Aussie TV show that we LOVED in the UK with Kylie Minogue in it). We were together as a family, but we were not connected. We were all staring at the TV. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I experienced a different way of eating as a family.
At my friend’s house, they would sit around the dining room table as a family and share stories from their day, and connect. I immediately felt the difference and decided this is how I would like to be with my family when I had one. And I have been faithful to my promise; we all sit together for dinner in a separate room to the TV, with the TV off.
Life is busy with kids, work, housework, and everyone’s different schedules. It can feel challenging as a family to find time to connect as a unit. Dinner time is perfect for this.
For dinner time to be enjoyable, it can be beneficial to decide who cooks on which days, who washes the dishes, sets the table, so as a family, these are shared responsibilities. You might like to create a music ritual while dinner is being cooked, perhaps taking in turns creating a playlist.
You might like to think about conversations that would promote connection around the table. For example, what was the best part of your day today? What was the worst part? What did you learn today? What are you grateful for today?
We have a ‘no screens at the table’ policy which stands when we are alone or with the kids. It is a family rule that the kids enforce if we forget! We have also found it helpful to have a clear ending to the meal, or one child, once they have finished, wants to go off and do something interesting while the other child is still eating. How you manage that ending as a family is up to you. We allow all the kids to leave once the last child has finished eating. We found this prevents the slower child from rushing their food to join in the fun and allows my hubby and me some time to talk without the kids.
Mealtimes can be a valuable reconnecting experience for the whole family.
Let me know of other practices you did or do with your family over meals that increased connection.
Much love on your healing journey