Studies have shown that children who eat meals regularly with their parents are more likely to earn better grades, have an open and trusting relationship with their parents, and are less likely to get into trouble. They also find that having regular family meals can reduce stress and tension for family members as well as show an increase in healthy eating when dining together. With all the benefits of a family meal, I wanted to share some tips to help your family start dining together more often.
1-Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Your children won’t mind if the dinner is slightly over done, or that the table isn’t set “properly.” They would much rather have a happy mom sitting across from them than a stressed mommy.
2-Start a no screen rule.
Turn off phones, tablets, computers, and the TV. It is impossible to pay attention to someone you are having dinner with if you are constantly checking your Facebook page. You may think this rule is mainly for children, but I have seen far more adults with this issue than kids. If you want to have background noise, play relaxing music.
3-Dinner doesn’t have to be fancy.
Having a dinner together doesn’t require five courses. Often doing too creates extra stress and added clean up. If you want to have a happy family meal, plan small. Make a meal that pleases everyone, order a pizza.
4-Plan to bring up conversation.
Your children might not feel comfortable starting a conversation, so you should come to the table with a few questions in mind. Try not to ask simple yes or no questions. Ask questions that involve an answer that they need to explain to you. For example, instead of saying, “How was school today?” you could ask, “What special things happened in school today?”
5- Open up to your children.
Having a successful family dinner is about group conversation. Don’t just focus on what your children have to say, but feel free to add in information about your day. Children can get bored and edgy if they feel the conversation is only about them. Let them know what happens to you every day is important too.
6-Get your children involved.
If you have ever cooked with your kids you know they are far more likely to enjoy what they helped make. Ask kids for ideas they would like to try at the next family meal. Invite them to shop for ingredients and cook dinner with you. You might even have them plan a fun activity for after supper that everyone can do together.
If your scheduled family night gets pushed off due to a schedule change, don’t let it get you down. Make it up later in the week. Showing your kids that you are able to adapt to changes will help them do the same. I would suggest that if a scheduled family meal must be postponed, be sure every member of the family knows and is told why. This will help children understand that family time is important, and you are not just forgetting.
I hope these tips will help you achieve your goal of spending more quality time with your children.