Bring Back the Dinner Bell


History of the dinner bell:

In 1908, the Sears, Roebuck & Company catalog advertised the dinner bell for families. For years, the noon dinner bell signaled a time for all who were at work and school to return to the family farmhouse for a hot meal gathering that would nourish the body, mind, and spirit.

How covid’s remote work and learning changed us:

This last year has given us time to adapt to working on the computer while our children work close by on their schoolwork. We have created new space, schedules, and routines as we settled in. We have all become more organized and independent, perhaps out of necessity and the need to survive!

There is much good has come out of this difficult time. I have watched a classroom of our youngest students now enter a classroom and log on to their online academics. Our older students have been resilient and learned to prioritize tasks. These skills will serve beneficial to the technology workplace many of our children will be involved in. Parents are more in tune with their children’s learning needs and strengths. Teachers have reinvented the wheel, reaching each student where they are at. We have all been able to build a flexible schedule of work, school, and family. But there is an elephant in the room when it comes to the social, emotional, and mental health of our family life.

Because there is no longer the transportation period signifying the official start and end to our time apart, our family and work time has become blurred and blended; understandably to the point of us not being truly present in either situations. Where our employers and clients hopefully can recognize and be empathetic to this situation, our children may be struggling with our focus.

Why a scheduled time or dinner bell is important:

The sound of the dinner bell meant the noon hot meal was ready. It took time and work to prepare and there was no reheating it! The bell signaled it was time to stop what you were doing and make your way to the table. It was important and required. After mealtime, everyone went back to work, but that time together nourished everyone’s body and mind and was a priority.

So, why not bring back the dinner bell? I am not suggesting we all hang a bell outside of our kitchen door, but I am putting forward we set a time to be together and be truly present. No technology, no work or school assignments, no distractions. Make it an appointment for everyone. At the sound of the bell (or phone alarm), take a walk, play a game, have a meal or conversation at a table.

Now more than ever, we need to focus on our self-care and the social and emotional health of our children.  These scheduled moments together need to be expression of our priorities through modeling for our children. Best of all, it could be the start of an ongoing daily tradition with lasting benefits and memories long after the pandemic is over.