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How we can bring back dinner time

By Rachel Wallace

Where has the family dinner gone? These days, even under the one roof, we’re living separate lives, operating on business hours and forgetting to press pause and come together for the most time-honoured of meals.

A recent study by Columbia University found that teenagers who eat dinner with their family five to seven times a week are more likely to enjoy a stronger bond with their parents and experience less stress.

All the more reason to bring back dinner time!

The ritual of dinner time is proven to help with family bonding.

Sarah Monaghan, Mum and designer at boutique interiors company, The Stables, shares some clever tips to help make it happen.

1. Get your family on side

Dinner time creates a wonderful opportunity for families to reconnect at the end of their day. Kids may not be sold on the idea (particularly teenagers), but explaining to them the importance of the dinner time ritual will go a long way to getting them on side.

“Dinner time allows everyone to be present and reflect on their days,” explains Sarah.

“It’s a great time to share stories, both good and bad, and help build a deeper bond between the family.”

How do your family prefer to do dinner? Perhaps it’s a more casual meal at the island bench.

Once you’ve got the family on side, now it’s time to ensure zero disruptions. Optus customers get access to Living Network tools such as Optus Pause, it allows you to pause your home connectivity across your devices and internet, all from the handy My Optus app.

Sometimes you need to switch off.

2. Plan meals in advance

“It’s hard enough getting everyone around one dinner table at the same time,” says Sarah, “without the added pressure of having to come up with exciting meals each evening!”

This is where a little bit of preparation becomes a life saver.

Instead of leaving it until last minute and resorting to grabbing takeaway on the way home from work, take 15 minutes at the start of each week to plan out your family’s meals and then write a grocery list for the food you will need that week.

Working collaboratively on this planning in a great idea too. Getting the family’s input on what types of meals they like to eat can always be another incentive to pausing the TV and gathering around the table!

3. Create an inviting dining space

There are easy ways to give your family’s dining space a little more oomph – and they may make both kids and adults more inclined to spend more time together.

Dining table furniture doesn’t have to be traditional; consider inbuilt seating for a casual, diner-look.

“I always advise clients to figure out how their family prefers to spend meals together, whether it’s at the kitchen island bench, around the sofa or at the dining table, and then work from there,” shares Sarah.

She then advises choosing the right seating: “There are some beautiful upholstered options with easy to clean fabrics, as well as lovely timber dining chairs that are using clever designs to ensure they are comfortable for longer periods of time.”

4. Get the kids involved

Playing with how the table is set up always adds a little fun to meal time, plus it’s a great way to get the kids involved.

A vase of fresh flowers can add so much atmosphere and joy to a room, the dining room is no different!

Sarah suggests creating tablescapes using placemats, beautiful linen napkins, coloured dinnerware, or even just a bunch of flowers in a vase to add interest to the room.

Younger kids will love the opportunity to go flower-picking to help out with the dinner arrangement!

5. Set the mood

Lighting and colour are your friend when it comes to creating mood.

If you want to create an intimate mood, Sarah suggests dimming the lighting down in the space or even adding some candles.

When it comes to tableware, use a warm, muted colour palette for your tablecloth or any decorative elements to inspire the family to feel relaxed, as those soft colours are easy on the eye.

All pictures courtesy of The Palm Co.


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