Your family has a packed schedule, but you try your hardest to eat dinner as a family whenever you can. You do it because you know that family dinners have a ton of benefits for everyone – not to mention the fact that you just like spending time with your kids and spouse. Family dinners boost communication and teach your children good eating habits. Sometimes life can get hectic, and family dinners can suffer. But even when your family dinner is rushed, you can still make the most out of it. Here are some tips.
Decide on a time that dinner will be, and make sure everyone in the family knows it. If you can’t have dinner together every night, or always at the same time, keep everyone informed and up-to-date on when family dinners will take place. If you work it into your schedule, you’ll be less likely to put it off or schedule something else in its place.
Keep It Simple
Family dinners don’t have to be elaborate five-course meals. The simplest of dinners are often better. Put something in the slow cooker in the morning, throw together a salad, or cook a pot of pasta. If you have time and energy to do more, go for it! Just remember that while everyone loves food and it’s vital, the most important part is being together as a family.
Cook and Clean Together
Bonding doesn’t only have to happen during the meal itself. Before dinner, involve your children in making the food. Let them help out in whatever age-appropriate ways they can. You’ll be spending more time together and teaching them valuable lessons in the kitchen. After dinner, don’t let everyone go their separate ways quite so fast. Make cleaning up a team effort.
Sit at the Table
If you eat family dinner on the couch in front of the TV, it doesn’t count. Sit down at the table together, so you’re all facing each other and aren’t focusing on something else. It’s the best way to foster good communication and good eating habits.
Even if family dinner is short, make the time you do have count. Don’t allow any distractions to take away from the dinner. Make it a rule that no one can answer their phones or text during dinner. Turn off the TV, put your phones on silent, and turn your attention to each other and the food only.
Make It Fun
You want to have a good time at family dinner, so try to keep the atmosphere light and fun. Avoid bringing up topics that are too serious, and don’t talk about anything negative, like poor grades or misbehavior. Save those discussions for another time. Let your kids steer the discussion toward things they want to talk about, and joke around. Put on some happy background music, relax, and enjoy.
Just Do It
Don’t let excuses get in the way. Everyone has to eat, so make sure you do it as a family. Even if you order takeout, or just have an appetizer together, it’s much better than nothing at all.
Katherine Brown is a cooking master and kitchen expert who understands the importance of spending quality time with family. She loves to give advice on the best ways to serve quick and easy dinners.
Photo Credit: How I See Life