Can’t remember the last time your family sat down for dinner together ??
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!
Families eat dinner together ONLY 3-4 times Weekly !
Declined Quality when eating together !
Families with children under age 18 report having family meals only three to four times per week. Additionally, the experience at the family table has also declined in quality in recent years due to the increase in television watching, phone usage and text messaging.
Family mealtimes can be a challenge for busy families, yet so much research shows that this is the most important part of your child’s day in terms of emotional, psychological and nutritional benefits. And these benefits last a lifetime.
Recent literature demonstrates that families who eat meals together more often, specifically four meals or more, have adolescents and teens with less disordered eating, healthier eating habits, less obesity, as well as higher self-esteem and lower rates of depression and substance abuse.
Needless to say, making family meals a priority early on in your child’s life is an extremely important practice to support health and wellbeing. Below are four tips to help you easily implement family meals into your busy family schedule!
Tips for Easier Family Meals
1.) Make the Commitment & Plan Ahead
If your family is so busy you’re not sure how you’ll be able to get everyone around the table to eat together, start with just one meal per week. Oftentimes this is Sunday night dinner for families. Make the commitment, put it on the calendar and make it happen!
2.) Make It Simple
The meal you cook does not have to be fancy and gourmet. It can be a one-pot meal in the Instant Pot or you can make a simple family favorite dish. The benefits are not necessarily all about the food, but rather that the time brings the family together to connect.
3.) Make It Fun
The shared meal should be welcoming and joyful, not stressful or argumentative. Find joy and keep it going.
4.) Make It Matter
It is important to converse and listen to one another, share about the day and about values and ideas. This shared time when everyone is present provides parents with insight into their children’s behaviors and moods. Children can also observe, interact and problem solve with parents in a secure and safe environment and be able to see how adults interact and cooperate.
I hope you can find the time and desire to make family meals a priority. You will feel more connected to your family and have excitement when these meals come around.
For more fun ideas, meals, recipes and conversation topics for the family dinner table, visit the Family Dinner Project’s website TheFamilyDinnerProject.org and Anne Fishel’s book, Home for Dinner: Mixing Food, Fun, and Conversation for a Happier Family and Healthier Kids.