Editor’s note this post is written by Carol from Shared Meals Matter.
I grew up in Connecticut along with six brothers and four sisters. My twin brother and I were the youngest of eleven children spanning two generations. Our loving, working-class parents ran a household bustling with activity. Raising us required a lot of patience, a sense of humor, and dedicated planning.
My parents used the family meal ritual as one strategy to keep us all connected. Life was simpler then. Every evening at five o’clock everyone would be present at the dinner table. After- school and personal activities were scheduled around dinner. My childhood was happy, filled with love and laughter. The meal ritual I enjoyed growing up was a major reason why.
Eating together mattered a lot when I was child.
As I married and raised my daughter and son, I saw how our schedules were becoming increasingly complex as the years passed. Especially when my kids were teens, it was challenging to fit in a daily shared meal. Since we needed to stay connected somehow, we flexed our schedules and shared a meal most days, but we didn’t use a specific plan.
Eating together mattered even more when I was raising my children
After my mother passed away in 2000, I felt a little lost. I started sharing meals more often to get through this challenging time. I gained a renewed passion for the shared-meal ritual. I went back to college and studied human development and learned about the powerful ways a shared-meal ritual can benefit us.
I decided to write a book, The Shared-Meal Revolution, a social movement to help others gain awareness about the many health, social, psychological, and other benefits that can be experienced through the simple act of a daily shared-meal ritual.
Here are just a few reasons why eating together is important today
- A shared-meal ritual helps children feel stable and secure. Parents can role model healthy food choices. Children practice live conversation, a skill many digital natives need.
Parents find it helps create community in the home. It also demonstrates an active commitment to the well-being of their children.
Couples enjoy time outside of work hours to keep communication strong and their romance alive.
Single people of any age (especially those living alone) need daily interaction with others to avoid isolation.
Today, many households deal with the fierce competition of overcrowded schedules, a cultural emphasis on efficiency over quality, and the growing presence of distracting technology. Social media is a wonderful innovation, but we can’t rely on virtual exchanges to replace the necessary human ones.
With all that each of us has on our plate, we often feel fragmented running from task to task. Developing a shared-meal plan helps us to ensure that we will have at least one time a day to share in each other’s lives. Sharing a meal every day is still a relevant way to preserve feelings of peace, connection and wholeness.
Want to read more?
Carol Archambeault believes eating together is increasingly important in our busy society. Carol is working to spur a national dialogue about the benefits of sharing meals through her new book, The Shared-Meal Revolution: How to Reclaim Balance and Connection in a Fragmented World through Sharing Meals with Family and Friends available from Amazon and her weekly blog Shared Meals Matter. You can also find her on Twitter.