Family meal time is a necessity for children and teenagers, and unfortunately it has become more difficult to coordinate family time in this day and age. With demanding work schedules, busy school activities, and other time-consuming but necessary daily tasks, it can be a challenge for families on are always on the go.
Recent studies show that less than half of U.S. families have regular family dinners. Children who share family meal time are 12 percent less likely to be overweight, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. They also do better in school, are less likely to engage in risky behaviors, and have a better relationship with their parents.
When children participate in family meal times, they are more likely to eat healthier foods. Routine meals together also give children a sense of stability and belonging. Communication skills can be encouraged and worked on at the dinner table. Children can also help with skills such as food preparation, cooking, and cleaning up.
Family meal time is a wonderful opportunity for you to catch up with each family member and enjoy their company. It’s also a great way to take a break from electronics! But it can be difficult finding the time to plan, cook, and clean after a busy day. Here are some ways to improve your family meal time and enjoy it to the fullest:
Plan ahead. You may have to make some schedule adjustments to accommodate the entire family, and planning ahead of time can work wonder to bring everyone together for an hour or two several evenings a week.
Have a no-electronics rule. If your family usually watches TV during dinner, it’s time to break this habit. And no electronics also means no phones or tablets brought to the dinner table as well. This way, there are no distractions.
Get the family involved in meal planning. Take your children grocery shopping with you and explain to them what ingredients you need for healthy, simple meals. Ask them what they would like to try and listen to their suggestions.
Let your children help plan and prepare. Get them involved in your meal plans and preparing the family dinners. This builds a sense of responsibility and teamwork.
Serve everybody the same food at once. Make sure you have a variety of choices. Don’t force your children to eat certain foods.
By taking time to share your day with your family at meal time, you can become closer and focus on healthier food choices and good conversation.