According to Royal Family protocol, children don’t sit with their parents at a formal meal until, allegedly, they are able to ‘hold polite small talk’ and ‘know how to act’.
Whilst this may suit in a more formal situation that the Royal Family find themselves in, psychologists and child-rearing experts all agree that the daily gathering around the reclaimed wood dining table at the end of a busy day is the perfect time to sort through issues, raise concerns but also to laugh and bond as a family.
But how do you spend quality time at the dining table with your children? We took a look at what the experts suggest.
Make it routine
Weekdays can be super busy, from a rushed bowl of cereal in the morning to all kinds of after-school and sporting activities. When you all finally arrive home, the temptation to slump on the sofa watching your favourite soaps can be overriding rather than sit around the static, but no less beautiful reclaimed wood furniture in the dining room.
However, gathering around the dining table can give you ample chance to talk. And communication is key in any family.
But rather than the normal question of ‘how was school?’, try;
·What made you laugh today?
·How did somebody help you today? Did you help someone?
·What games did you play at lunch?
It’s also a great time to check what practical stuff you may need to help them with too. But you need to make it routine and that means instilling it as part of your family life that you all sit down to eat and talk together around the dining table.
Making food together is just as important as eating together
Preparing food is, in many cultures, a key feature of community and family life. But in the UK, we tend to be caught up in the health and safety trap – children shouldn’t be in the kitchen for fear of burns and scalding. We can encourage them into the kitchen without compromising on their personal safety.
By watching you prepare and cook food, your children will pick up on some great habits. However, kids running through the kitchen is not a great idea so create a child-friendly area in the corner of the kitchen.
Keep them occupied with tasks and activities, while sitting on the dining bench as well as chatting about their day and what they are looking forward to doing.
Even having them sit at the table on the dining bench whilst you cook up a storm brings an inclusive feel to your home and eating area.
We love and hate technology in equal measure. It is an integral part of our lives but it can overtake everything that we do.
A mobile phone at the dining table, scrolling through stories on Instagram or tweets from the day isn’t creating an inclusive feel to meal times.
But, sitting around the dining table on your beautifully upholstered dining chairs – or even wooden dining chairs -is a great time to talk about technology, especially what’s happening on the social sharing sites that children and young people lend so much weight too.
You may not allow your children to have profiles on these platforms, but they may still find that they impact their friendships and relationships.
How often do you sit around your reclaimed wood table together?