The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is here! With thoughts of decorating, gift giving and other seasonal stressors, it’s no wonder why we lose sight of what really matters – quality time with family. This holiday season, let’s make time for the people who matter by doing our best to sit down together for a family dinner. Studies have shown that sharing a meal is good for both parents and kids.
I know it’s not always easy, but here are four reasons families should make dinnertime a priority this holiday season:
I’m not just talking about parents who could use a little stress relief after a long day of work. Stress builds in kids too! In a world full of afternoon soccer practices, dance recitals and evening meetings, it’s comforting knowing everyone is able to come together at the same time to share a meal and reflect on the day’s activities.
There’s research that shows families eat better around a shared table – that means more fruits and veggies, less trans fats and sugar. With one in five children between the ages of 6 and 19 facing obstacles with their weight, childhood obesity is an epidemic. Not to mention – it’s easier to keep an eye on the portions your children are eating when you’re there to dish up the meal.
The dinner table is a great gathering place for conversation and education. Take advantage of dinner time to encourage meaningful chats – teach your kids manners, expand their vocabulary and create an open learning environment for everyone. You might find you can learn just as much from your kids as they can from you!
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found the more often children have dinner with their parents, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use illegal drugs. Children who eat dinner with their families three times or more per week are at 70% lower risk.
We know family dinners are important, but that doesn’t make it easy. The trick is to make it part of your family routine. Here are some tips:
Plan meals in advance. Take the time and make meal planning a part of your weekly routine. Many moms like to take Sunday afternoon to map out their family’s meals for the week. That way you can take stock of what you have in the pantry and hit the grocery store if you need to. If you’re in a time crunch or are just too tired to cook (because let’s face it, we’ve all been there!) scout out some crock pot recipes. All you have to do is throw the ingredients in the crock pot before work and when you get home, you’ll be welcomed by a warm meal.
Set a consistent time for our family to sit down together. It could be the same time every night, every other night or whatever works best for your family. It sets the precedent that quality time together is important. That way everyone knows what to expect and they should make it a priority.
No Phone Zone
There isn’t anything worse than trying to have a conversation with someone when they’re distracted on their phone, laptop or tablet. Keep the conversation moving by making the dinner table a device free zone.
Delegate Dinnertime Tasks
Dinner should be fun! Get the kids involved with preparing the meal. Make Friday night “kids’ choice” where they have the chance to plan dinner. Nothing tastes sweeter than knowing they’ll be able to contribute to something the whole family can enjoy!