Over years, less emphasis ended up placed on traditional Sunday family dinners. In those times, family members congregated at their table, ate, talked, and – most importantly – bonded. Time, shifting values, new dynamics, and technology shifted people’s focuses on this practice. However, the pandemic and subsequent lockdown has families swearing by the quality time more than ever.
Additionally, they plan to keep the practice up even after the need for quarantining ends. While isolation kept many apart, it also gave people the chance to see their household members more. Now, they want to keep things that way in a post-COVID-19 world.
The importance of Sunday family dinners
The FMI Foundation, as the Food Industry Association, analyzed new eating practices among Americans, particularly in relation to having meals together like during the heyday of Sunday family dinners. “We have long known that family meals have a tremendously positive impact,” said David Fikes. Fikes works as executive director of the FMI Foundation. “In fact, just as our nation was being impacted by the pandemic […] the most comprehensive study to date […] demonstrated the undeniable value of family meals. It showed that more frequent family meals were associated with better dietary and family functioning outcomes.”
Indeed, the importance of family meals spent together is nuanced, deep, and broad. The Family & Children’s Center outlines that such togetherness creates a sense of belonging that, in turn, boosts self-esteem. Family members can vent about their day and release tension while perhaps hearing some advice for the next day’s woes. Kids get to see their parents front and center, everyone giving each other their undivided attention. That helps family members truly know each other and gives parents the chance to shape their children’s upbringing by teaching them good values. Taking the time to plan a meal together encourages team-building activities and has also helped ensure that dinner is a healthy one.
Bringing back old traditions
Lifehack cites the newfound mayhem of everyday life and attention-consuming technology for the decline in practices like Sunday family dinner – or dedicated family dinners any day of the week. Referencing studies from around 2012 shows the decline was going pretty strong. But the FMI Foundation now has evidence that people not only brought back family dinners but they’ll be here to stay after lockdown.
When confronted by the phrase, “I feel more connected to my family since the pandemic has started,” seventy-one percent of a sample comprised of 1000+ U.S. adults felt agreement. The survey, taken in August, already tracked 94% of respondents saying they cooked the same or more since the pandemic began. 78% of the respondents also noted mental benefits. Of dinners, they said, “they help to make me feel calm.” They also said of such dinners, “they are an important part of my household’s regular routine.” Finally, respondents said, “they are a high point of my day.” Ultimately, many also plan on keeping the practice going even when restrictions lift.