Many families in the USA (rural Oklahoma included) are busier than they have ever been. Kids are often in multiple sports/activities after school and many households have both parents working or maybe only one parent. With multiple children doing multiple activities, it can put a strain on a parent’s schedule and energy. Family meals tend to fall by the wayside when families feel this crunch. But it is important to schedule in family meals. It’s important for kids and adults alike.
Family meals keep communication open for families. Dinner time might be the only time that everyone is home and together during the day. Sitting down to a meal together allows talking about what’s happening in the lives of all the family members. Children should be encouraged to share their own experiences. Just try to avoid or postpone conversations that might be embarrassing or need a more private setting so that kids will want to continue to open up at dinner.
Family dinners also contribute to healthier eating habits. When the television is turned off and people are engaged with their meal and the family around the table, they are more able to notice and respond to hunger/fullness cues. When parents model good food habits, kids will pick up those habits too. So, be sure to serve some veggies with those family meals!
Family meals help raise self-confidence in children and teens and, according to the American College of Pediatrics, family meals provide a structure that contributes to better grades and better social skills.
If you are not currently doing a family mealtime, don’t feel like you have to go whole-hog right away! Pick 2 or 3 days a week to cook and eat together as a family. Try that for a few weeks. You’ll start to see the benefits. You might find that you want to do more!
I know I write about family meals a lot, but it is important to me and to our kids. Catch me on Fox25’s Raising Oklahoma segment this coming Monday morning at 10:00! I’ll be talking about family meal planning with some great tips on how to actually get it done!