"The table is where we mark milestones, divulge dreams, bury hatchets, make deals, give thanks, plan vacations, and tell jokes. It's also where we learn the lessons families teach: manners, cooperation, communication, self-control, values. Following directions. Sitting still. Taking turns. It's where we make up and make merry. It's where we live between bites." -- Doris Christopher, Come to the Table
Last night was the first night of high school football practice for our son. First 6-hour practice. First time on the football field as a high schooler. First time high school football parents. First time stressing about a six hour practice (mom). First time packing a hearty dinner to eat on a practice break for hungry football player. First time waiting for our football player to come home so we could eat together. At 9:00 p.m.
The quote I shared is why I love table time so much. Table time is face-to-face time. It's the real FaceTime. Doris Christopher is the founder of Pampered Chef and she truly desired to help others create more mealtime moments with their families when she started the company in 1980. I can't tell you how proud I am to be a part of this mission. Even recently as I worked with a new bride-to-be and her groom-to-be, I shared this quote with them as a reminder of how treasured, how important, how ordinary, how extraordinary table time really is.
I can't give up table time with my family and I don't want you to either.
It's so easy to though. We have too much to do and not enough time to do it. We have schedules that vary. Difficult relationships can get in the way. Even the fear of personal criticism can be a barrier to table time.
But I think of the table as a place to recharge and refresh from the day. A place to come together. A place to share. A place to look into each other's eyes (how often do we do that during the day time?). I really do believe a table can make or break a family.
And the new school year is where it can begin again. Where we can dedicate ourselves and our families to a table movement. Where we gather around the table each evening to refresh and rejuvenate each other. Where we can live between bites.
These are the small moments that we will yearn for and remember as time passes on -- all those ordinary moments when everyone was gathered around the table. Can you dedicate yourself today to doing that one thing? To taking back the table for your family?
Here are my best tips for taking back the table:
- Celebrate. Every day there is something to celebrate. It might be a little win or a big win. It might be an accomplishment or it might be a character trait. It might be a birthday, half birthday or event to be remembered. Before my son was born I painted a plate that's titled "My Special Day". We use it weekly to make mealtime just a little bit more special.
- Sunday Special. Pick a day of the week and make it a no excuses, no plans, no holds barred night for a family dinner. The best day of the week for us is Sunday night. Sometimes it's homemade pizza, sometimes it's comfort food like chili. Sometimes we invite the neighbors, sometimes the kids plan the meal. It doesn't have to be fancy! But you can serve it on those fancy plates you received for your wedding! Whether it's soup or barbecue, just make it happen. Wouldn't it be cool to have your kids turn down plans with their friends because they know it's "family night"?
- Make a menu plan. Dinner happens easier, faster, better, and healthier when there is a plan. When we know what's on the menu, we are more excited to partake in it. My kids often ask, "What's for dinner?" and if I don't have a plan, they just aren't that excited to come to the table. But with a menu plan that I feel good about, I know they will gather. I include their favorites of course, and I have a rhythm to the week. It feels natural, there is a flow. And you can bet the stress level is low too.
Which tip will you take and put into action this school year?
If you are feeling stuck and would like help, check out my kitchen coaching services. Or maybe you would like a speaker for your upcoming workshop to learn as a group. I truly can't wait to hear from you!