We want to know how to win with Family Dinner but is it really worth the fight? We battle schedules and attitudes, time and space. Dinner together at a table doesn’t feel like it fits let alone deserving of the planning and resources required when driving through our favorite fast food chain is so much easier. Today we are unpacking the why behind an age old tradition that still holds value in our homes and lives today.
It’s no secret I’m a sucker for all things family. Gatherings, outings, meals or moments; they all speak love to my heart and identity as a wife and momma.
Family Dinner Growing Up
I grew up in a home where dinners were prepared at home, usually by my mom, and eaten at the table, with the whole family. I was usually the one “picked” to set the table and my brothers fixed the drinks. TV trays were used for snacks or milk and cookies in the evening but dinners were at the table. There was no awkwardness and conversation happened naturally. The TV was usually off and if the phone rang during dinner we would usually let the answering machine get it.
Many young women grow up groomed for motherhood and trained ready for the domestic responsibilities. I, on the other hand, jumped head first into it all at 17 without a clue how or even a desire to cook, clean, and take care of a home. I don’t think I had even done a single load of laundry on my own because I had a mom who did that for us, let alone cook a meal. My idea of cooking was a frozen pizza I made for my then boyfriend now husband and his friend.
Family Dinner with a Young Family
As a young mom with young kids, hectic schedules and limited time and resources, dinners weren’t really a priority. We were fed, but it was often fast food or something incredibly simple warmed up and eaten on the run or in shifts between school and sports or church events. The running joke at our house was my cooking, or lack thereof, and family dinners at the table were not a priority.
Family Dinner with Older Kids
Fast forward a few years, my kids got a little older and weeknight sports practices became a thing of the past. We started sitting down at the table more regularly. Dinners usually involved browned or grilled meat, tortillas or tortilla chips and cheese. We would fix our dinner from the stove on paper plates, sit down, consume our food in about 5 minutes and be done with the whole ordeal. There was usually only one cup of water (fixed by me, for me) that inevitably became the community water that everyone drank out of and fought over who had to refill it.
Eventually, one kid went to college and the other started driving (and eating out all the time) so my husband and I found ourselves sitting down for dinner just the two of us reflecting on the days when our table was a little fuller and looking ahead to the reality of our lives as “empty nesters”. He was elated about what was to come, I was devastated about what I would miss.
Family Dinners Today
Now, let’s talk about today. I’m full time wife and mom to two incredible adult kids who live at home plus a future son-in-law. In my newfound season, I find myself with more time and increased desire to return to the important things. My family has become accustomed to dinner ready and waiting when they come home, complete with sides and veggies. The joy I have in preparing a meal is evidence of a good and loving God. We sit down at the table together, talk about our day, laugh together and enjoy this time. My family is grateful for the meal and this is easily the highlight of my day.
How to Win with Family Dinners
I share all this to say, family dinners are worth fighting for. They may take a little extra work and planning but the benefit you reap from this time together far outweighs the sacrifice. I’m no Betty Crocker and I don’t love to cook but I love my family and serving them in this way is an overflow. Some meals we go all out, others are simple, but sitting down at the dinner table is non-negotiable. The crazy thing is, I think my family loves it just as much as I do. If there’s nothing planned and it’s a “fend for yourself” night you can sense the disappointment.
I’ll leave you with this; if you expect quality family time you must create space for it and be intentional. Until we are willing to make sacrifices we will sacrifice the things we desire most. Don’t miss the moments with your family. Create opportunities for God to remind you of your most important ministry to the ones you love most.
I wrote a guest post for a friend last year about family dinners you can read here. My challenge to you is to set aside at least one night a week that you will declare family dinner night, announce it to your people, plan for it and execute it. Comment below if you’re up for the challenge and the night/nights you’re committed to and lets hold each other accountable in 2018 to intentionally fight for family dinners at the table together! If you’re willing comment below or click here and share in the comments how you make and keep family dinners a priority in your house