Sandwiches, apples, tortilla chips and leftover birthday cake. It was our dinner at the softball field. After a day of being with my son, working my part-time job, grocery shopping, and finishing a load of laundry, the simpler the meal, the better. My son and I met my husband, who had come from working and coaching the high school golf team, at the field thirty minutes before his game started. With the warm summer sun finally here, it was a happy family dinner before our next commitment.
We all lead busy lives. It’s the daily grind of life – extracurricular activities for yourself and your kids, religious commitments, family commitments, friends … the list goes on and on. There are many days that it all just seems over the top.
But, then, the dinner hour rolls around. Yes, sometimes dinner means sandwiches and apples. Simple food or in a location other than our kitchen table, but dinner together is a priority in our family life. We began this effort as a dating couple. Most nights, we spent dinner together talking over our days, where our relationship was going, some joke we heard, or about our dreams. Now, we continue this practice and make the effort to eat together every night.
Our favorite meals together are the times that we can leisurely eat and enjoy the food and drink in front of us. In our busy lives, this isn’t always the case. Some days, like last night, we only have time for thirty minutes of eating and chatting together. But, this thirty minutes is rejuvenating. We are able to stop the chaos of the day and reconnect – as a couple and as a family.
Getting a family dinner organized can take effort. Effort to have food ready and everyone at the table. Effort to listen to your husband, wife or child sharing a story of their day. Effort and patience to be together. But research shows that that your efforts pay off for your family in the long run. Studies say that regular family dinners can relieve stress and minimize the chances that your teen will experiment with drugs or sex. These people, the ones around my table are my family. My first loves. So even when life gets crazy, I try to make a point to sit down with them over a meal, and at the end of the day, it’s worth it.