Is eating as a family a big deal?

Everybody dipping fingers into a fondue pudding at our dinner table.

Everybody dipping fingers into a fondue pudding at our dinner table.

Sitting down for a meal is something that we are constantly told is a ‘must do parenting thing’, it is of vital importance to our children’s development, and is crucial for helping them to develop social skills.

But is it something you have time to do?

An article written by renowned chef Andy Bates (which you can read here) makes the case that ‘family meals’ are not something that have to be done every single night, and he has quite openly said he is sick of parents being bombarded with ‘expert opinions’ that make them feel guilty because they just don’t sit down as a family. What about the parents who don’t get home from work until 8/9pm? Evening meals as a family were not something that he did in his family as a child due to various family commitments, but they had a standing family meal every Sunday, with a wide variety of extra activities together.

In our family we sit down for a family meal most evenings, although it can be quite impossible if one of the kids is unwell. Does that make us lesser parents? I don’t think so. I know many parents who sit down together for breakfast because they can’t get together at Dinner, or who don’t sit together for any meal, but spend their entire weekend doing activities together as a family such as long walks in parks, visiting various historic locations or even taking a trip to the zoo. I will say that when I was on maternity leave we ate as a family a lot more frequently, in fact, I would do a weekly culture night for all of us every friday where we would sample different world cuisines in a little banquet (you can read about culture nights here), but now I have to say I maybe do this one a month, especially since launching the blog… I just don’t have time to spend cooking a banquet! Now I know it doesn’t have to be anything like this to eat as a family, but still do you get the time?

I would really love to to know your take on this topic and what you do in your family. Do you eat as a family every night? Once a week or maybe in the morning? Maybe not at all and you get your family time in other ways? I’d love to know!

Harriet x

1 Comment

  1. Avatar February 18, 2014 / 2:24 pm

    Work commitments and illness create havoc to anyone committed to eating every evening together. I strongly believe that family meal times are important for socialising and for table etiquette. I have been left horrified at watching older children struggling with how to use a knife and fork. Talking with their mouths full, making horrendous chomping noises or not even chewing just swallowing! I use to work shifts so we could not sit as a family every evening but as my children got older it was important to do as sometimes it was the only time we could exchange what we had been doing and more importantly plan the next few days. Teenagers would rather sit in front of the TV with food on their lap, or take it to their rooms. I was a strict Mum no food in the bedrooms and we had a pizza and TV/movie night on a Friday (start of a family weekend) I believe eating together, chatting without another distraction opens up for family story time, laughter or tears it doesn’t matter it helps our children realise we are there for each other without having to get to ingrained in the deep and meaningful. Also helps parents get a rain check on school life, bullying, when older the drug / alcohol culture, girl/boy friends, other interests that we may not be aware of. Been able to see for yourself that your child is eating at least a few balanced meals a week, watching how likes and dislikes for certain foods comes about. On a plus side isn’t it wonderful to be able to go out into a restaurant with your children and not be embarrassed. It’s not about being a control freak its about nurturing a child so they benefit socially in later life .

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