My Family Fantastic

Creating Experiences That Help Relationships Thrive

Pranks, Mealtime, & The Power of the Table

A Matter of Taste

My best family memories happen during mealtime.

“Maaaaaan, y’all ain’t gonna believe what we did at school one time.” That’s how my younger brother prepped us for one of his college escapade stories. He played division one basketball and was always getting into excitement (read: trouble). We were all are sitting around for mealtime and it was his turn to share.

The Prank of the Century 

This particular evening my brother told us about a prank that he pulled with his roommate. They lived in a quad-style student housing complex with most of the other student-athletes. So he and his roommate came up with the brilliant idea to place a false advertisement in all of the mail boxes.

The ad explained that each female resident that came into the leasing office and passed gas would receive a $200 discount off of their rent. So many deal seekers came into the leasing office that day, the emergency communication system was used to tell residents that the ad was a hoax.

We laughed for a good ten minutes off of this story. But we would have missed that moment, if we’d let the business of the day steal our family mealtime.

Maybe We Were Boring…

Growing up, our weekday evening routine was always the same:

  • homework
  • dinner
  • and sharing a story or a high point of our day.

To outsiders, it might have seemed a bit boring. But my best childhood memories all centered around time at the table. I think that’s why the Good Book talks so much about tables — they were the most significant piece of Biblical furniture.

Mealtime The Importance of Family Mealtime 

There’s quite a bit of research on the importance of family mealtime. A 2012 Report by Cornell University says that children that have family meals three times per week are less likely to be overweight, have better academic achievement, and are less likely to be delinquent. The report went on to explain that family meals provide numerous benefits to children including:

  • improved psychological well-being
  • increased consumption of healthy foods
  • and more positive family interactions

The Problem and 3 Ways to Solve It

The problem is that fewer and fewer families are taking the time out to: sit around their table, share a meal, and make lasting memories. Because mealtime has been replaced by TV, a bazillion extracurricular activities, and other forms of media.

The Cornell University Report recommends that families use three strategies for improving mealtime:

  1. Set a goal to have family meals three times a week. When family meals are shared at least three times per week, most research notes an improvement in child outcomes. If dinner isn’t possible, try breakfast or an evening snack. The goal is an activity that allows your family to gather on a regular basis.
  2. Remember the benefits of consistent family meals. Family meals can generate feelings of closeness and comfort. Regular mealtimes provide children with stability, even when meals feel disorganized or rushed.
  3. Quality is just as important as quantity. Researchers note that mealtimes are the time children are the most likely to communicate with their parents.

Don’t let distractions steal your time together. Turn off the TV and cellphones, sit around the table, cook something healthy, and make some memories. I came across this video on YouTube and I think it perfectly illustrates just how important mealtime is.

And Now a Word From the Good Folks at SoulPancake…

Question: What’s your best memory of family mealtime?  Can’t wait to hear your stories! Love, Simone

*This story originally appeared at blackandmarriedwithkids.com*

8 Comments

  1. Simone, I enjoyed reading about your mealtimes with your family. They sound like they were sweet family moments. It’s funny, but I don’t remember my parents and I eating together. Usually we were all eating in separate spaces. But now that I am older I really like to try eat at the table with my dad as much as possible. My mom is on her own interesting eating timetable (hehe). I think there is something so wonderful about a family gathering at the end of the day over some yummy home cooked food.
    Monica afrotasticlady recently posted…An Introduction to the Blog Series: Dear Little SisMy Profile

    • Simone

      April 18, 2016 at 9:43 pm

      Hey Monica! Thanks for sharing with us. My husband and I just spent the past couple days with my friend and she cooked up a storm the entire time we were there. We treated her to dinner once. But your comment made me think of something–there is absolutely no replacement for a good home-cooked meal. Even though, we had fun eating out…there IS something yummy and warm about home cooked food.

      That is awesome that you make it a point to have dinner with your dad! Especially, with your writing, graduate school, and everything else you have going on.

  2. My parents were big on family mealtime, too. We didn’t have cell phones back then, but even if the home phone rang (and we knew it was a friend!!!), we weren’t allowed to get it. 😊 I plan to have the same time with my kids, and even now, Howell and I try to practice not being on our phones while we eat, especially when we go out!

    Thanks for sharing about this important time!!*Hugs*
    Laura C Brandenburg recently posted…“Writing WITH God:” A Refreshing Weekend in the SpringsMy Profile

    • Simone

      April 18, 2016 at 9:35 pm

      Omigoodness! I forgot all about that. It was the same for us, Laura. The phone would ring, and ring, and riiiing. And we couldn’t answer it, plus we didn’t have Caller ID. So I’d just have to call back the list of likely callers and hope for the best. Just think, our kids will never know that agony of not having caller ID:-).

      So glad you and Howell already put that into practice. We’re pretty good about it when we go out for dinner, but when it’s just the two of us at home…we’re a bit lax. But it is STILL important even if it’s just the two of us! So thanks for that reminder.

  3. That prank was something else! I can just imagine those girls coming in there after eating all kinds of spicy food or veggies trying to get that discount. Smh, the things people will believe if they think it will benefit them.

    We had an unusual dynamic in my childhood home: the kids all had to eat together and there were no books or games allowed at the table. We had to talk to each other. But the grown ups didn’t eat with us! I guess it fostered a close relationship with my sisters, but I think I would have benefited from the WHOLE family eating together.

    I definitely attach meal times to fellowship. I lived alone for several years and one of the hardest things to adjust to was getting used to eating alone on a regular basis. I lost a LOT of weight from that (I had plenty to spare), but then gained it all back a few years later from a stressful relationship. I wasn’t alone anymore, but I was miserable! I’m just now starting to get a handle on my emotional eating. Like your statistics stated, I think family engagement around food has a lot to do with having a healthy outlook regarding eating habits, etc.
    Faith Simone recently posted…Conversations with Faith: Online Dating Experiences #2My Profile

    • Simone

      April 22, 2016 at 12:08 am

      Bwhahaha! I know right. At some point, I just know, somebody had to say ‘wait a minute this is ridiculous?’

      I TOTALLY agree with benefits of the no books and games policy, Faith. And I think me and my siblings are closer because of it. You, like Laura, reminded me of something else. I remember being in the middle of a good book and being called to dinner. Ugh. It was the worst, and I’d be trying to rush through the meal trying to get back to my book. It’s comforting to hear about other old school parents! Now that we are older, sometimes hours after dinner we still find ourselves just sitting around the table talking or laughing. Or standing around in the kitchen telling stories.

      Until reading this study, I never really thought psychological and physicals benefits of mealtime. I kinda knew the emotional and connections part, but this one simple act touches so many areas of our lives. I’m praying your story of overcoming will encouraging another sister. Thank you for sharing.

  4. That prank! Ha! And now that we’re no longer using our kitchen table as a TV stand, maybe my family and I can start having some family meals together!

    • Simone

      May 4, 2016 at 4:43 pm

      Hey Quanie! Yes, it takes a creative mind to come up with that level of ridiculousness…enter my dear brother.
      Woot! Woot! For family mealtime…we gotta start somewhere, right?!

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