I love food. I love cooking. But you know what I love more than food and cooking? Family dinner! For me, family dinners and cooking have always been a priority and will continue to be a priority. Some of my best conversations and life lessons happened at the dinner table and some of my favourite memories are watching my Grandmother, Grandfather, Father or Mother cook. It’s one thing I stand strong on, no matter how busy I am. You’ll hear me say it on Podcasts, during interviews, on blogs and in articles: “I try to be home for dinner every night”.
Growing up my father (a busy Chartered Accountant with his own practice) made family dinners a super important part of our life. Several nights a week, we would sit around our dinner table and talk about our day – the good, the funny and the bad. We sometimes would play trivia games or guessing games. The dinner table was always a source of laughter and sometimes tears. I would take away so many little pieces of advice and knowledge, walking away grateful to see how everyone else was doing. Also, the dinner table saw many difficult conversations, conversations that shaped me and my family. All of these conversations gave us a break from the hustle-bustle of everyday life, but also taught us how real life is. This is why the dinner table is so sacred to me.
Fast forward to today, I continue to ensure the dinner table provides the same effect; bringing my family together to chat about the good, the bad and to have difficult conversations that guide us, shape us and move us in the right direction. My wife and I have our own flare, turning up the music and/or having our kids cook with us (safely). Having young children means there is a ton of “please eat more”, “food to mouth”, “don’t wipe that there”, but these conversations will evolve, but the framework will be consistent – us, together at the dinner table, grounded and connected, talking and listening to each other, helping each other and loving each other.
Why am I talking about this?
The NY Times featured some awesome CEOs talking about the importance of family time and how leaders are balancing work and family during quarantine, and how they are rediscovering the importance of family dinner. I was excited to read this article because family dinners have always been a priority for me, so I’m really glad it’s a priority for many other leaders again.
Moreover, there’s a science to eating together as a family. According to Fatherly, there are 6 reasons:
- Developmental Boosts: It helps promote language skills as you talk and helps develop patience and dexterity through the use of utensils.
- Improved Mental Health: Kids who regularly enjoyed family meals were less likely to experience symptoms of depression and less likely to get into drug use.
- Bonded Families: When a family eats together they feel a strong bond with one another. They build a sense of belonging which leads to better self-esteem.
- Better Grades: Kids who ate with family 5 to 7 times per week did much better, reporting mostly As and Bs.
- Physical Health: Families that eat together make better food choices.
- Increased Savings: A sample estimate finds that a family of 4 could save nearly $40 a week, per person, by simply shifting meals into the house.
Overall, family meals provide an opportunity for family members to come together, strengthen ties and build better relationships.
For many business leaders, it would be much easier to forget about family dinners. But as this pandemic continues, more people are realizing the importance of shared family time at the dinner table. Often, this is the only time when all family members are all together in one place – and this is not something we should take for granted.