These days, most families have parents both working and children involved in school and after-school activities. Most of the time, because of our busy schedules, it leaves so little time for family conversation and bonding. The later are vital to a happy, nurturing home life and should not be neglected. One way to achieve this is having family mealtimes together.
Here are some important points as well as the benefits of shared family meals:
- If you are a family that rarely connects at mealtime, do not think it’s an impossible dream! Start small by scheduling one meal per week where everyone in the family is required to share the meal, sitting down at the dinner table. From here, you can work up to sharing additional meals.
- An important part of family meals is to keep the conversation positive. Don’t use this important time to hash over bad grades, misbehavior or any other negatives. This time should be set aside for encouragement about the accomplishments of the day, whether it be child or parent related. You can initiate conversation with questions such as what the favorite part of each person’s day was. Just keep it positive!
- Try to involve everyone into the conversation. Even small children enjoy having a chance to talk. Subjects like school and friends are favorite topics. And, if you have the typical silent teen at the table, talking about popular music or video games can keep him interested. Be creative, and involve the whole family.
- Take your time during dinner. Don’t rush, as this could be the only time during the day that you will have an opportunity to connect with each other. Try serving dinner courses separately, such as the salad, main course and dessert at the end of the meal. The time will stretch out, and allow for more family communication.
- A great way to encourage kids to look forward to family meals is to let them help in the planning and preparation. Children are more likely to look forward to dinner if they have chosen what is to be served or have been allowed to help prepare it. Dinner can include conversation about where the recipes were found, what the ingredients are and what requests may be for future meals. Food always brings people together!
- Try to find times that accommodate everyone’s schedules. If kids have after-school activities or sports, choose days that everyone is free for dinner and stick to them. Other options are weekend brunches when everyone is usually home.
- Try to make your family meals healthy and nutritious. During the hectic school and work week, you probably find yourself opting for pizza, frozen food or fast food which offers little or no nutritious value. Use family meals to learn about healthy food preparation and using all of the food groups. Include lots of salads, veggies and lean meats to entice your family to the table. You can even create healthy desserts with fruits and low-fat ingredients. Use different spices, salsas and other interesting ingredients to make meals tasty.
Eating together is an important part of family life. Even if your family is a busy one, coming together at the table a few times each week will encourage conversation and bonding that will keep your family together and involve you in each others lives. And that is what families are all about!