I love what the kitchen table brings to our home and many homes in America. Not only do we receive the blessing of nourishment there but we have the opportunity for some great family time around the kitchen table. Our table happens to be an old farm table that we’ve had for about 15 years. It used to be white but we had it painted a black a while back. When our kids were little we finger painted and made sculptures out of play dough at the kitchen table. When they were “too old” for play dough we used clay and now instead of finger painting we paint canvases.
One of my best memories of our kitchen table was when Mitchell was four years old and it was Christmas time. He begged me to wrap him up in Christmas paper and put him on the kitchen table for Randy when he came home for dinner. I was very hesitant because of the whole #whatifhecan’tbreathething but I did it and just didn’t tape it really tight and checked on him like every 30 seconds. He waited for 45 minutes before falling asleep and I couldn’t wake him up. I know it sounds like he passed out or something because of lack of oxygen but that’s not what happened. Randy came home and saw his gifted child laying on the kitchen table as our center piece and he was like “what the world?!” Mitchell finally woke up and we gave him CPR and all was well. Ha! I’m kidding. He was all excited to be unwrapped. We will always treasure that memory at the kitchen table.
This same kitchen table is where we sit down after school and share the best part of the day and worst part of our day. It’s where more details about our day spills out into family conversation over dinner. We learn more about each other and hear each other’s stories. It’s the reconnecting point for the entire family. We’ve all been scattered throughout the day doing our individual things but then we all come back together again each night before sending off for another day in the trenches. This is a powerful time together.
It can be. But it can’t be if it doesn’t ever happen.
It takes work to keep the kitchen table alive and well. To have dinner there together as a family on a regular basis. It takes planning and usually this falls on the Mom. I know how hard this is because we have to fight for this time together. It doesn’t come easy. For some families the obstacles to family dinner together is sports, dance, music, etc. that have to be worked around. For others it’s older kids work schedules. It might be simply working all day and being too tired to cook when you get home. For us it’s meetings at church and Boy Scouts and Upwards. I’m not ready to knock any of these things when there is a healthy balance but I do think it’s time for Moms to take back our kitchens and start cooking for our families for the added benefit of having consistent family time around the dinner table.
According to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, kids and teens who share family dinners three or more times per week:
- Are less likely to be overweight
- Are more likely to eat healthy food
- Perform better academically
- Are less likely to engage in risky behaviors (drugs, alcohol, sexual activity)
- Have better relationships with their parents
This means sometimes we have to get creative. It might mean eating later than normal or earlier so the family can be together. It might mean taking a Saturday to cook up meat for the next week’s meals so we have time to come home and cook after work. Meal planning takes time but it frees up time in the long run. I’ve never gotten into the month at a time cooking but I’ve always wanted to try it. I’m personally doing good to just get a week’s worth of meals mapped out and on the table. We don’t eat together every single night but we do for the majority of the week. Wednesdays are exceptions for us and we go out about twice a month on Sundays.
I know there are families that have special circumstances and they simply can’t eat meals together most of the week. I think of our military families and spouses whose jobs require regular travel. One of my friends has a traveling husband and sometimes when he comes home from having been gone for a while she will let their children stay home a few hours from school so they can be together. There are creative ways to make up for that lost dinner table time.
For the sake of the traditional, busy family I’m doing a post series called “Kitchen Table Talks” All it is is some ideas that our family has incorporated around the kitchen table that has pulled us together in new and different ways in the midst of a very fast paced, busy life style. My hope is that this series will give us motivation to view our kitchen tables as a sacred space. A training ground. A haven of rest. A place of building up and literally refueling in all areas of our lives. Who knew a little ole table could offer so much to our families.
Hope you’ll join along!