We’ve all heard that eating together as a family has a wealth of benefits. With my husband’s work schedule, dinner Monday through Friday is usually just me and the kids. At ages 11 and almost 9, their schedules are getting busier and busier. However, it is important to me that we sit down and eat together as much as we can.
If eating dinner together doesn’t work together for your family, think about eating breakfast together. My husband’s new job offers more flexibility in his schedule. While we may not be able to eat dinner together, a couple mornings a week we are able to all sit at the table and enjoy breakfast together. Why is eating together important?
Eating together as a family has many positive benefits including:
Nutritional Benefits – According to KidsHealth, family meals tend to be more nutritious. I can vouch for this, knowing that I’m cooking healthy, home-made meals. Even on busy nights, I’ll use the slow cooker and we’ll eat early rather than grabbing fast food.
Developmental Benefits – KidsHealth also noted that teens who regularly eat family meals are less likely to smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs. They are also learning and practicing communication and conversational skills.
Academic Benefits – According to Health.com a CASA report found that children who ate frequently with their families tended to get better report grades. Children engaged in regular conversations with adults are exposed to more advanced vocabulary words.
Suggestions to help make the most of your family meal time:
*No Electronics at the table – We follow this rule both at home and when dining out. No ipods, video games, or tablets at the table, including mom and dad’s cell phones. Only when we are having a special family dinner/movie night will we eat dinner together while watching a movie.
*No Reading – If we let our daughter bring a book to the table, she’d read at every meal. On weekend mornings we’ll sit at the table and read the paper while we eat breakfast. However, there is no reading at the dinner table.
*The Peak and The Pit – This activity has other names including “The Peak and The Valley, The Rose and the Thorn”, etc. Regardless of what you call it, each person gets a chance to tell about the best thing and the worst thing that happened that day.
*Family Dinner Book Club – Jodie at Growing Book By Book, hosts a Family Dinner Book Club. Each month, a new book is chosen and discussion/conversation starters, table decorations, and even a sample dinner menu are provided! This has been on my “to-do” list for awhile and is something that I hope to try soon with the kids. If the current month’s chosen book doesn’t interest you, you can always check out some of the previous book club choices.
*Cook a Meal Together – This is most likely to be able to occur on the weekend, but pick a recipe that the whole family can help prepare together. We’ve had fun making dumplings as a family. It’s fun to eat a meal that you all helped make. We’ve also had fun having Cupcake Wars. We formed two teams and each created a cupcake. This can also be done with cookies, muffins, doughnuts, etc.
Links to additional resources to help make the most of your family dinner time:
The Family Dinner Project – a whole movement and website devoted to enjoying meals together as a family.
Fun Themes for Family Dinnertime from She Knows
How do you make the most of your family dinner time?