The Family Dinner, oh it’s Not Just a Fantasy!
Studies show that children from families that eat meals together at least three times a week are more likely to grow up with a healthy self image and less likely to have substance abuse issues and eating disorders. For me there is no better way to spend quality time with my children, but family meals aren’t always the utopian vision of perfectly behaved kids you’d like to image. Although Breaking Bread is an age old and timeless tradition we all could use some simple tips and reminders to make it habitual and successful in our homes.
1. SIT DOWN at the table together at least three times a week if not every day! Even if you are getting take out, put the food in serving dishes, lay the table and pass the plate! A family that eats together is so important!
2. LIGHT A CANDLE – Kids love candles! This can turn a boring dinner into an event. Create a ritual out of the lighting of the dinner candle and establish that no one leaves the table until the dinner flame is extinguished. This reduces the kids urge to “scarf” down their food so they can get back to their own activities and takes the struggle away from the parents, the candle is lit we all sit down!
3. INTRODUCE THE HIGHLIGHT REEL – in our house it is called Hi-lo. A best and worst of the day, and this is a great way to get your kids talking about what is going on in their lives. Just last week during hi-lo my son said, “my low, I don’t understand girls mom, they just want to sit on the swing and talk for a living.”
4. MODEL WHAT YOU TEACH – both with food and with conversation! This is your chance to show them that you do eat brussel sprouts! Talk about your day, your food, your cravings, hopes and dreams. Don’t talk down to them, they are so much smarter than that.
5. BE PRESENT – in the moment at the table. Turn off the personal electronics – have a PEB, personal electronics basket, where all the mobile devices go during meal time. This includes the adults, I do not take phone calls during meal time no matter how much I feel the pressure.