On family dinners

Here's the deal with family dinners.  I love them.  It's always been my favorite time of the day - ever since I was a kid.  We would always gather together around the table and eat a lovely dinner. My mom is an excellent cook so we always ate something delicious.  My parents would open a bottle of wine and we would sit at the table for an hour or more and talk about our day, things happening in the world, and life in general.  

Some of my best memories came from around the table.

We still do that.  On a regular basis we gather at my parents house and have dinner together.  But every night - EVERY NIGHT - Mr. Hedin and I gather together with our children and sit down to dinner.  Some nights it's a well thought out and planned dinner and other nights it's a mash up of what's been found and what's been made.  

If I have been recipe testing, then some nights are less tasty than others.  

But every night we eat together.  I hear more about my children's day while we eat than any other time.  It's fun to hear what their advice is for each other as much as anything else.  You won't believe what advice they give each other! Especially the crazy youngest one.  His advice ranges from helpful to something that sounds he saw it on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  

I've known my whole life that a family dinner is the best time of the day.  But when I started researching information for Weeknight Society I realized just how valuable a family dinner can be.  

I learned that children who eat dinner with their family are more likely to do well in school and in life.  Children who eat family dinner start using a bigger vocabulary at a younger age, they learn how to have a conversation with adults, and as they get into school they get better grades.  Middle-school children who eat dinner with their family are more likely to get good grades and are less likely to try drugs or drink alcohol than children who don't regularly eat a family dinner.  

Before this project started, I was an advocate for family dinner.  Now that I have been doing this for one year (EEK!  A YEAR?!) I am a giant jerk about dinner.  We must eat dinner together.  

What do you do?  I've chatted with my friends who live in the neighborhood and it seems like most families I know manage a family dinner two or three nights a week.  I think that's pretty good.  Given that all of our children are active in sports and school doesn't let out until almost 4pm, three nights a week seems like a good target.  That also allows for eating out, date night, and feeding really hungry children before anyone else gets home.  

I'd love to hear about your family dinners.  Share them here or on Instagram.  How do you plan?  What is a favorite dinner?  Where do you eat?  Who is your family?  Let's start a conversation about eating dinner together.  Let's make sure everyone knows eating dinner together matters.  Because it does.  It matters.

photos by Jeff Hobson