Dinner time is important and we all know that. We might be bombarded with other things that need our attention, but deep down we know sitting down together and enjoying a meal, is needed to feel a sense of closeness with those we cherish. This is the moment we sit in a common place, such as the dinner table, and genuinely listen and get nourished. There are several ways we get nourished during this time spent together. For one, we nourish our bodies with food after working hard. Second, we nourish our mental and emotional states by getting a healthy dose of security and stability. What does this mean, though? Well, in my experience, mentally we are able to finally relax after a long day and express what we have on our mind, because no one is going anywhere when they have a plate of food in front of them. Emotionally, we get nourished by lending our ears, to listen to someone else's perspective and our hearts to connect with another human on a deeper level.
For children, this is extremely important, says The New York Times. I know if you ask my kids if mommy is always busy, they will say yes. However, when it comes to dinner time, this is when I drop everything and ask my kids how their day went. They are free to share their experiences, as I listen attentively. The smallest child, who is home with me all day, gets involved in the conversation too. I'll ask her what she did all day and what her favorite part of the day was, too. Yes, she was with me and I know what happened, but it makes her feel like her feelings matter and that she is a participant of the conversation.
Growing up, with a single father, who was doing the best he could; the dinner table was a safe haven which was sacred. It was where we shared how we felt about a topic, how the day went; a place where each person mattered and was allowed to speak freely. Even though growing up, I felt he was overprotective, he did strive to hear me out in his own way during dinner time. We always said, and still say grace before eating. In an article on Oprah.com, prayer is so much more than something 'religious' people do. It's about being mindful and in the present moment. I was thankful that I had food, someone who provided that food and grateful to have the time to bond, because tomorrow isn't guaranteed.
That is the importance of dinner time. The bond we share with others through a common thing, a meal. Even if you are alone, this is a time you have to spend with yourself. This is vital, as well. How many times are we running around for others, caring for everyone else and forget to give time for ourselves? Sometimes we even forget to eat. We don't make ourselves a priority. Connecting with ourselves, while we sit for a few minutes and care for our bodies with good food, is healthy according to Shape.com.
Moving forward, if there is too much conflict, an intoxicated individual or anxiety during your shared meal; the benefits of being together and sharing aliment aren't as easily absorbed. The not-so-good memories associated with something which is to be good for us, will become something we will try to avoid, as quoted by Anne Fishel, Ph.D. in an article by NBCNews.com.
Going further, this time doesn't necessarily have to be the evening meal, nor everyday. If it is difficult to find time to sit together and eat, try to figure the best time that will work for you and others. Maybe when the day has simmered down, after dinner, the kids are bathed, the kitchen is cleaned and the kids are about to go to bed, might work better for you.
"Mommy, I'm still hungry," says my second child, Sophia. I look at the time and it's 8:30 p.m. "She's suppose to be on her second dream by now, and she's still up," I think to myself. So, I sigh and give in. I fix up a bowl of cereal for her and take the time to sit with her while she eats. Here comes the oldest, Victoria. "I'm hungry, too. Can I have cereal?" I literally just laugh out loud. How can I not have expected this? I go into the kitchen and make a bowl for her. Then I think, "You know what? All this cereal, I think I want some too."
So, we're sitting at the table eating cereal and talking about what happened at school today. My oldest, always has a better recollection of what happened during the day at night; hence why she has a hard time going to sleep, (I'm laughing as I'm writing this, because I don't know if she is trying to avoid bedtime or if she just wants to let out everything before she can fully rest). This moment doesn't have to be a full course meal. The point is that, it is a time I was able to give my full attention, 100%, to my kids.
Also, make sure electronics are on silent or off. This tells the other person that they matter to you. I mean, think about it. If you're speaking to someone and they're focused on their phone, don't you question whether or not their listening? For some, the TV is on all through dinner (no judgements), but turning it off will strengthen the bond on both sides. This has been as reported by Sciencedaily.com. I know it's so much easier to enjoy quiet time, when someone has a screen in their face, but it is so much more beneficial, in the long run, that we focus our eyes on one another, instead of on something virtual.
All of this helps our children to grow into stable and secure human beings. How many people do we know and deal with, including ourselves, who cling to us or are avoiding a vulnerable connection? It stems from childhood; the lack of feeling like they/we mattered. This is a whole other topic I can blab about another time. If we do our part in nurturing our kids emotionally, not only physically, we will prepare a better generation for the future.