Originating in Government accounting the budget outlined the "balance sheet of the actual income and expenditure of the past year, and an estimate of the income and expenditure for the coming year." Another definition referred to the "amount of money needed or available for a given purpose." The Family Dinner Table is where we budget more than just money. We budget components or our family relationships. We evaluate our spiritual, mental and emotional ties. We see where we are lacking and budget to meet that need. We budget our time. We budget our energies. We budget our resources.
It is a novel idea that as our society becomes increasingly affluent, money ceases to be the chief budgeting catalyst. Very often it is time, or energy that is limiting our lifestyle choices. If for extended periods our energies are the only constraint, our health will begin to fail. If money is the only reason we don't do something, then when money is plentiful is the activity approved without constraint. Let us make more budget controls in our lives. Let the Family Dinner Table be a chief budgeting tool. If any activity will interfere with the family dinner hour, it is overextending our family budget. The goal is to balanced budget sheet. At dinner we can see each other face to face, perceive body language, hear with our hearts and serve with our hands. In a literal sense we pass the salt, serve the food, refill drink glasses and learn to see and perceive needs of our loved ones gathered around the table. We can learn of schedules, appointments, and opportunities for each member of our family. For example if a child wants to have friends over to play, we discuss as a family the time constraints, the mode of transportation, the proposed length of visit, the planned activities, the food required, and the benefit to friendships versus the expenditure on family relationships. We can budget our time and resources to meet appropriate needs.
Dinner tables can work magic in adhering to a budget far beyond money. We need to set a budget on the amount of time we socialize, the amount of time we use electronic media, the degree to which we use any good thing. Children need to see parents use constraints not because they have to but because it is the right thing to do. Do we only stop spending money when there is no money to spend? Is the only time we stop yelling at each other when there is no one with whom to yell? Is the only reason to cook at home when we cannot travel to a restaurant? Do we buy on sale whether the items are needed or not? Constraining ourselves to prioritize family dinner hour because it is the right thing to do will balance the budget in a multitude of areas. Our families are our priorities. Our children are our greatest treasure. Our marriages were created to protect families. Let us do the right thing and protect our children, our marriages and our families. Let us govern our homes wisely. Lets eat together.