Family Dinner Tips
The family dinner has been on the decline, but there is a recent movement to include them again!
We all have that picture of the perfect family that sits down together, enjoys their healthy meals, chats happily about the day's events while connecting with one another in a most personal and encouraging way! It's ingrained! Families simply do not eat together as much anymore, and if they do it's probably not this dream like scenario. Yet the family dinner is said to anchor the family together, so it is a lifestyle solution to work on and improve!
Interesting Tidbits about the Family Dinner
- 37 % of families eat with the television on!
- Eating a family dinner greatly helps kids in the teen years. The more often families eat together, the less likely their teen is to smoke, do drugs, get depressed, develop eating disorders, or think of suicide! They are more likely to excel in school, delay sex, eat more vegetables, and learn proper manners and how to converse well!
- Just because we eat together does not automatically mean we are practicing healthy eating habits! Pizza deliveries attest to that!
- Just because we are sitting together does not mean we are actually having meaningful conversations, but bickering and complaining!
- Families with the least educated parents eat together the most often, and also kids that are foreign-born!
- Not connecting at meals is related to both parents working, sports practices, microwave meals that allow grab and go eating, electronic separation anxiety (my term for television, computer, I-pod, video game, or phone unconnectivity).
- Many families treat meals like a restaurant, where the mom chef whips different microwave meals out from processed bags of food products! Yes, I have been checking out Costco food carts!
- A family dinner is often where family stories are retold, members are valued, family values are learned, and conversation skills are honed.
- Most kids admit they wish their parents were more involved in their lives. Just do not let them go, because their peers' values are not necessarily what are best!
- Eating at home is a frugal choice and saves money because eating out is almost twice as expensive!
Tips to Develop a Happy Healthy Family Dinner
- Meals must be eaten at the table. No table, no meal!
- Turn off the television or computer during meals!
- Plan a dinner meal time and stick with it!
- No electronic devices of any sort allowed!
- Everyone eats the same meal! Home is not a restaurant! Not every meal will be a favorite, but life is about compromise. This is an important skill to recognize early on and will serve kids well their entire life!
- Kids can help prep veggies, make salads, learn to cook basic foods, set the table, pour drinks, clear the table, and rinse and load the dishwasher. Develop a chore list and rotate this weekly! Allow your kids to trade chores, if they are in agreement!
- Use your meals to share your stories and listen to your kids' stories, or to educate them on interesting topics.
- Use your crock pot if you work or have sports practices. Your meal will be done and waiting. It can be thrown together the night before, while the kids are cleaning up! This eliminates the need for the fast food runs!
- Encourage positive table talk. Follow the rule of If you can't say something nice, don't talk. All kids need to learn manners, the art of self restraint, and thinking before they speak! Maybe the person who talks mean will chose an extra chore from your chore jar!
- Limit over scheduling your kids! I have a friend who allowed her kids to choose one activity to become involved in each year. I thought at the time that she was harsh. She had it right! Your kids are probably not going to grow up to become famous sports players, but they will all attend business lunches and need to know proper manners and the art of table talk.
- Teach your kids healthy meal planning and shopping skills! Maybe one kid helps each week, so they get extra one on one time!
Practice Portion Control! You knew it had to get back to this! Portions are out of control and kids are becoming obese. You have the chance to serve their plates the proper portion. You are the gate keeper of their health! Use your influence.
Meals are not just about nourishing stomachs, but hearts also. Everyone needs self esteem, encouragement, and enjoyment! Your family is worth the added time of a daily family dinner! It is a healthy diet habit to continually work to improve!