Research shows improved performance in school, fewer behavioral problems, and improved communication between child and parent. Meals eaten at home can be more nutritious and healthy, and the dollar goes further. However, fewer families are eating meals together than ever before. With soccer practices, dance recitals, homework, club meetings, and parent work schedules, many families are struggling to find time to eat meals together, much less at home. And with the ever increasing number of fast food restaurants, offering cheap (although not necessarily healthy) food options, there is a strong temptation to eat on the go. Families will opt out of meals at home – who has time for that?
Here are some tips that may help you with your goal to eat together more as a family.
1) Find time for at least one meal/week to eat together as a family.
2) Remember that kids are learning how to eat and develop social skills during meals. Keepexpectations low and conversations positive and light.
3) If you are not used to cooking, start by eating foods you normally eat, just at the table with the family. It doesn’t have to be fancy.
4) Prepare the meal with the kids. They are more likely to enjoy meal time if they feel they are involved in the meal making process.
5) Prepare conversation cards to keep at the table to avoid the standard “How was school today?” Example: “What’s your favorite animal? Why?” or “Which historical figure do you most want to meet?”
Family meal times do not have to be something to stress about. They can be a fun, relaxing way for families to bond and enjoy each other’s company. These meals do not have to always take place at a dinner table. They can occur anywhere your family is together. What’s most important is that you are focusing on eating better and eating together!