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What goes on at your dinner table?

March 14, 2012

Dinnertime is not what it used to be. It used to be a time for the whole family to sit down around the table and spend an hour of quality time together. It was the one time of the day where everyone could sit down to a nice home-cooked meal and share stories from their day, catch up, and have meaningful conversation that otherwise wouldn’t happen on-the-go. It was the normalcy and the time of the day that parents looked forward to.

What happened to traditional family dinners? Well, as our lives have become “busier”, we now view family dinners as inconvenient and impossible. The simplicity of family life has now grown into an array of after school activities: after-school tutoring, sport practices, and music lessons. Moms are now personal shuttle services and rely on one thing to make their busy afternoons a little easier- convenient dinners. This may be a trip through the drive-thru or a quick frozen pasta dinner to throw on the stove as kids are being ushered out the door to their next activity.

So, it’s time to bring family dinners back! And here’s why.

Positive Conversation builds Confidence

Take the time to have conversations with your kids, starting at an early age. Studies have shown that positive conversation between kids and parents help to build confidence so that when tough conversations are to be had, kids can be reassured that they will be heard by their parents. Good conversation within the family also teaches kids how to listen and have meaningful conversations with their peers.

Your Mini-Me

There’s no doubt about it. Kids mirror the behavior of adults, in particular, their parents- even when it comes to eating! Set a positive example by choosing healthy dinner foods and . Experiment with different foods and preparation to promote variety and adventure with food.

Teaching Good Behavior

The dinner table is a great place to teach your little ones good manners and healthy habits. Kids who eat at home are typically healthier eaters and exhibit better grades in school. Help fuel your kid’s brain with healthy food and stimulating conversation.

But, how can I carve out time for family dinners when we have such a busy schedule? Easy, with a little planning and extra help!

  •  Plan the week’s meals before the craziness starts. This will help save time during the week and cut down food costs in the long run. There are so many easy-to-prepare dinner recipes out there and making enough for leftovers will help to cut down on kitchen time.
  • Make it a team effort by including your kids in the process. Let them choose a meal a week that they will help you prepare. This will give them something to look forward to and is a great way to squeeze in more time together.
  • Give kids a job to do to make it easier on you. Assign them tasks such as setting the table, clearing the table, or washing the dishes. This will also help teach them about a little something called responsibility.
Make dinnertime a priority. Set a goal to have at least a few dinners together a week. Of course there are going to be days when there is just too much going on to even think about what’s for dinner. However, dinnertime can be a good excuse to get a break from the craziness of the day and decompress with those you love the most.

What does dinner with your family look like? How many meals a week do you get in with your family?