Our family are probably representative of most these days in the little time we actually have to spend together. For the most part, my husband and I are ships in the night. He’s on morning family shift and I am on the nights. I start work at 8am, finish in time (usually) to tend to homework, dinner, bath time etc. He starts after lunch and can work through late into the night, depending on his customers requirements. Add into this a teenage son who has rugby practice, kick boxing training, not to mention the brief notion of a blossoming social life. As a result our family work in ‘departments’….Mum and the little ones…..Dad and teenage son. Because of this, Sundays have become our most precious day of the week. It is the one day where both my husband and I aren’t working, and we as a family can all enjoy each others company. It is also the one day of the week when we are all home at the same time for dinner.
Because of this, I have been on a crusade in establishing a new tradition for our family to adhere to. Our family Sunday lunch. While this may sound a little simplistic, it rarely is not. I first started the idea of a Sunday dinner. The one time when we are all sitting formally at our dining table, rather than up at the kitchen bench, or in front of the TV. But, because my children are early risers, this meant we were having to sit down at 5pm for the evening meal. If not, the point of a relaxing, enjoyable family meal was lost in the midst of fussy, tired, grumpy children.
So the idea was tweaked to that of a lunchtime sit down meal. I even had the wild idea of opening up to anyone in the house at the time….(teenagers friends usually leftover from a Saturday night social event). We have had a few successful meals since the tweak…..but to really establish the ‘tradition’ takes an awful lot of commitment. And buy in from those involved. Which at the moment I am yet to get from both children and husband. Life is so busy that I seem to be the only one concerned with the lack of time we have together solely to enjoy each others’ company.
To me the idea of traditions offer so many more benefits than just the focus, such as mine, of spending time together. They are occasions fondly recalled as adults. They are events where new and specific social learning may occur in a realistic context. They provide self-identity and a sense of belonging to the family unit. They give children something to stand for…..because there is something of importance upheld by the adults in their lives. These traditions can be as simple as Sunday lunches or as complex as which presents are given and received at Christmas time. The point is there is something there for children to identify as theirs. Something they can say happens predictably in their family, that has a feel good factor or a real point to why it happens. And something they can say is important to their family……and is therefore important to them.
Which makes the idea of my Sunday lunches all the more important. I haven’t the answer to its success yet….but I’m working on it. I think the fact it’s on my radar must give it a much higher chance of success than if it were not!