When was the last time your whole family gathered around the kitchen/dining room table and enjoyed your evening meal, together…..no TV, no cell phones, no electronics of any kind? As we began raising our family, this was a simple “given” for us. It was never even a consideration not to spend family time around the table in the evenings. After thirty years of marriage and a family that has fully embraced all things electronic, something has happened that I never dreamed would be true of us. Our three oldest children are grown and on their own. We have a 17-year-old and a 12-year-old still at home and the ugly truth is, we have fallen prey to the habits that permeate the majority of American households, today. Our kids fix a plate and run to the family room to eat in front of their favorite TV program while David and I sit in the living room upstairs watching our own favorites. It breaks my heart to even admit that to you and it’s a phenomenon that has been occurring for a little more than a year, now. It has definitely become a tragic habit.
Mealtimes have traditionally been a time for laughter, multiple conversations running at once, sharing our day and just enjoying one another’s company. For twenty-nine years, we would never have considered anything else, and now it’s gone, like a vapor that evaporated into the atmosphere. I’ve been trying to think when the bad habits started forming and all I can come up with was the crazy time when my husband first became sick, a year ago – doctor visits, hospital stays, him being in too much pain to get to the table. Maybe that was the start of it. But the reality is that electronics/”entertainment” leaked in and filled the hole where fun, conversation and family time had been. It’s time to take that all back — shut off the electronics — and reconnect with the people I love.
Family dinner is about so much more than food; it’s a precious time to connect. However, this time can easily be hindered by technology. That’s why Power of Family Meals is proposing that families disconnect to reconnect at mealtimes.
- Disconnect to Reconnect is a movement to get families to unplug at the table. Power of Family Meals is encouraging families to gather around the table for meals without screens (phones, TVs, iPads, handheld devices) at one meal, once a week, more often than not.
- As technology continues to become more predominant in our lives and busy lifestyles often force us in different directions, meals around the table offer precious time for families to reconnect.
- It will continue to become more important to set boundaries for digital detoxing, so why not start now? Family meals are a tradition worth maintaining. I’m taking mine back! I hope you’ll join me!
First of all, family time can definitely start long before we hit the table. Preparing food — cooking a meal together — can be a fabulous way to start reconnecting. Passing on family recipes, secrets, tips and techniques in the kitchen is a way of sharing a common history, building bonds and allowing kids to know “who they are” and “where they came from”. It’s those stories and traditions that make connections for all of us, to our past and for our futures. Food is a powerful memory maker and sharing time together preparing it, will inspire a desire to continue the fun, by sitting down to enjoy the fruits of your labor, around the family dinner table.
Enjoying the food, during a meal, is only a small part of what happens at the kitchen table. There is something about separating out the time to see what happened in everyone’s days, to laugh at the crazy stories that are bound to come up, to listen to heartfelt concerns and to practice the art of conversation that inexplicably ties us to one another — makes us closer and gives us the desire to experience more of that. We need to cultivate the habit and after awhile, it will be what we want, not what we have to do.
Our first night, taking the pledge, was breakfast-for-dinner. I chose it not just because it’s a family favorite, but because it’s a meal that lends itself well to having many hands in the preparation — someone to flip the pancakes, while someone else scrambles eggs or cooks the bacon. Breakfasts are filled with warm, comfort food options that naturally make us feel “homey” and draw us closer. They make us want to slow down and enjoy them, which is why they work SO much better in the evening, than in the hectic morning hours. 🙂 It was a good call. No one heard the call of the electronic “sirens” beckoning them away from the table. We laughed and enjoyed one another’s company after making the meal, together. And I’m determined to make this our “normal”, once again. Michael prefers pancakes, but Larissa is a waffle girl, so they got to work and made both! I made hashbrown omelets and bacon, while Dad took care of the juice, chopping tomatoes and pulling out all the yummy toppings like Smuckers Strawberry Fruit Spread, Jif Peanut Butter and Jif Chocolate Hazelnut Butter, along with Hungry Jack Pancake Syrup. It was a breakfast-for-dinner feast!
Gathering around the table after all the fun and laughing in the kitchen, tightened our new found connections, even more. Everyone visited and talked about their day, as we enjoyed our meal, and we broke out a silly deck of conversation-starter cards that had all four of us in stitches, before the meal was over. It was fantastic to enjoy our family around the dinner table, again, and we’re going to work at making that our “new normal”.
You can find more information about this initiative on The Power of Family Meals Facebook page and by following them on Twitter. How do YOU combat the electronic allure that often traps our families in bad habits? What ideas do you have to get your family to #Disconnect2Reconnect around the dinner table? Will you take the pledge with me? Start with our own families, and we could create an entire revolution of caring connected people, who reach out into the world and make positive connections, there, too. It’s a big dream, that starts small, right at our kitchen tables. Let’s do it!