The Dinner Table: Family Dinner Resolution

For the New Year I made a resolution – a family dinner resolution – to actually get home for family dinner. It is a bit difficult on the conscience to be the Director of the Family Dinner Project and not get home for dinner very often. So I resolved, and I have spent the last four weeks doing my best to stick to it. This post is a report on what is working, and what is not…

What is Working

  1. Refusing to schedule meetings at dinnertime: This is tough for some people and I know we’re not all free to make our own schedules. Even for those of us who are, there is a lot of pressure to book meetings right through dinner. Lesson: Put the family dinner in the smart phone calendar – if it is there already, it is that much harder to schedule something else over it.
  2. No giving in to my drive-thru temptation: I commute a long way home every day and it’s been four weeks since my last drive-thru grease burger. Lesson: Just keep driving.
  3. Making a commitment to my family: I promised my kids I would be home more which makes not making it home a little more fraught. Lesson: Promises help.
  4. Turning off the phone: I have to admit, I am so bad at resisting a ringing phone. I think all of my years as an actor I was trained like Pavlov’s dog to salivate at the ringing of a phone. Lesson: It can probably wait – and I am not that important.
  5. Left-over night: Recently we found ourselves composting too much food that had been abandoned to the cavernous recesses of the fridge behind the pickles. What I’ve just discovered is that each kid has a favorite meal and it is tending not to be the same one these days. So on left-over night, even if we only have a little left, each person is ending up with his or her favorite meal from the week. Lesson: Waste not, want not.

What is Not Working

  1. Bringing work home: If I leave work before I am done in order to make it home for dinner, then I am up late at night – like tonight – trying to finish my work. It is better than staying late, missing my family and dinner – but it still means staying up to late working and not sleeping. Solution: Don’t have one yet…suggestions anyone?
  2. Skipping lunch: I am not doing a good job of eating lunch, so by the time I get home I am famished and have low blood sugar. It is strange how a thing as far away as lunch can negatively effect family dinner, but it really does. Solution: Pack lunch the night before. Also, have almonds or apples in the car for the ride home – it won’t ruin my dinner, but it also won’t let my blood sugar crash.
  3. No games: I don’t know why, but we haven’t been playing any games at the table lately. I feel like my repertoire has run low. Solution: Someone please send me a fun table game to play with 5 and 9 year old kids!

So if I had to give myself a grade, I would get a solid B. Not bad for me and my New Year’s resolution. But I could do better. Let me know how your commitment to your family dinner is going. And if you ever have any questions you want answered, submit your question and I’ll see what we can do for you!


John SarroufJohn Sarrouf

John is a father of two – Elijah (8) & Esme (5) – and the director of The Family Dinner Project, a grassroots movement of food, fun and conversation about things that matter based in Watertown, MA.  John is a professional mediator and dialogue facilitator who spends much of his time leading conversations with parents and families about the opportunities and challenges of family dinners.

[Photo credit: (cc) Jay Wiese]

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