I remember racing home from school, finishing homework, running to basketball practice, music lessons, tutoring, play rehearsal …what about dinner?
Although those busy days may tempt you to give into fast food as the easier option, try to resist! Even if you carve out just a small amount of time for a quick family meal, it is far more fulfilling. Slow down, despite the chaotic schedule, and enjoy your family sharing a meal around the dinner table. In fact, recent research at the University of Minnesota has shown how eating as a family during adolescence is strongly linked to positive dietary habits later in life. Adolescents who eat with their families often grow up as adults who eat greater amounts of fruit, dark green leafy vegetables, and consume fewer soft drinks. So set these healthy eating habits early!
Beyond proper nutrition and eating habits, research also indicates that participation in family meals can lead to children who are happier, healthier, and even perform better in school. And how nice is it to sit and share what happened during everyone’s crazy day? Children should hear about their parents’ days, and it helps parents to stay clued into their child’s life as well!
So, here are a few tips to have some nice family meals:
Plan ahead! Identify those days during the upcoming week that may be busier than others. Try to figure out the time that will work best for the entire family to sit down and eat together.
Choose quick and easy recipes to make on busy nights
Why not have the kids choose one night a week to plan and help cook the meal? A favorite of my kids was making breakfast for dinner, a fun easy meal that is also nutritious.
Turn the table into an “electronic free zone” and keep cell phones, music players, and the television set off for the duration of the meal. It allows everyone to really enjoy the experience of eating together and engaging in conversation.
To make the meals a bit more fun start the habit of each person asking, and then answering, questions like “what was your high of the day? Low of the day? Favorite part of the day? Etc.” It keeps each other involved and aware of what is going on in family members’ lives and it can be quite entertaining.
As an addition to the weekend routine, make a consistent Sunday breakfast. Let the kids invite a friend and it will become something to look forward to at the end of each week.