To me, a kitchen table represents deep conversations, vulnerability, laughter and most of all, love. Growing up this was the place where my family would spend time together. Yes, we were sharing a necessary meal, but that time together was so much more than that to me. The time at the table gave me a chance to get to know my family members, to be challenged, to receive encouragement and to learn. My parents did an amazing job at making sure we ate together most nights. I realize now what an incredible gift this was.
When I was single, I often ate dinner with friends. Again, the kitchen table was a place where we shared about our day, destressed and dreamed. I am so grateful for a group of friends that cherished that time as much as I did.
Now as a wife and mother of two, I know how difficult it can be to maintain the routine of eating as a family at the kitchen table. However, some of the deepest most profound things my 4-year-old has ever said have been heard while we were together at the table. Without eating together, I would have missed them.
One of the hardest parts of making sure we eat together every night is keeping our table cleared off enough to eat there. Like most homes, this is a spot where everything gets placed as we are going about our day. However, chances are much better that we will eat together at the table if the table is ready for us to do so. Because I know this is a problem for many, I have come up with a few tips on how to keep your kitchen table free of clutter and ready for you and your family (or group of friends) to use to eat together.
1.) Make it a priority. Sometimes we can control our clutter just by being aware of the problem. Pay close attention to the things that end up on your table. Do they have anything to do with eating? If not, they don’t belong there and need to be put where they do belong. That may mean that for a while your kitchen counters will be come a drop off spot, but at least this means that your table is ready for your family or friends…and that is so important.
2.) Talk with your family about it. Letting everyone know the goal of keeping the table clear is a huge help. You can work together to keep things off the table that don’t belong there with the reward of getting to spend quality time together there at dinner.
3.) Make sure the table is clear every night before bed. Seeing a cleared off table in the morning is a huge motivator to keep it clear through the day!
4.) Keep tablecloths off the table until you need them. Some people are in the habit of keeping a tablecloth on their table all the time. There are different reasons for this and I completely understand them, but hear me out. Although you may not realize it, you are much more likely to clutter up a table that is covered than one that is not. I am definitely NOT against tablecloths, but I think it’s best to save them for special occasions.
It is my hope that these tips help you to achieve your goal of eating together as a family more often. Be realistic with your expectations. For most, it probably won’t happen every night. However, I promise you, you will find the blessings in making it happen even just once a week.