The Activity – Eat a Meal Together as a Family Every Day
The kids are back in school, work is busy, and there are lots of activities to juggle all day long. It feels like everyone is running in a different direction and life is happening faster each day. Now more than ever it’s important for families to slow down and connect on a consistent basis. A great way to build those strong relationships is through family meals.
When your kid is a baby you have about 18 years to care for and nurture them before they leave home. Of course a parent never stops being a parent, but on average, in those 18 years there are 6,570 days. That’s almost 20,000 meals you can potentially share together as a family.
Most people aren’t home with their kids for every singe meal of their first 18 years of life, so let’s stick with the 6,570 number as the average number of meals you’ll have with your kid. Sounds like a lot, right? And it is. So many important lessons can be taught, experiences shared and memories made with those 6,570 bonding opportunities.
Not to worry if your kid isn’t a newborn. You have still have plenty of opportunities to connect as a family during a meal. If your kids is 9, you will have on average 2,920 opportunities left. And even if they are 16, you still have on average 730 opportunities. Keep reading to learn more about why eating together as a family is so important.
The Reason – 10 ways Family Meals Strengthen Relationships
There are so many ways eating together as a family as often as possible can strengthen family relationships. Here are just a few reasons:
- You are establishing consistency and a routine your kids can trust and count on
- Provides a time for family members to connect
- Family members learn and practice communication skills
- Sitting down together provides an opportunity to slow down
- Everyone can rest their brains, step away from the screen and engage face to face
- You have the opportunity to discuss individual accomplishments
- There is time to laugh together as a family
- You can develop lasting family traditions
- Challenges at the dinner table are likely, but are opportunities to work to together for a solution
- Opportunity to express love
The research is clear, studies show there are links that eating together as a family help develop all of the amazing qualities and characteristics parents want their children to have.
The Story – Learn From Your Mistakes
Everyone loves a story with a happy ending. Let’s be clear, this isn’t that kind of story. This story is all about how not to do family meals.
It was a rather dark time in my life. My husband was working nights and I was working part time outside of the home. Our kids were toddler age and not in school. Instead of having to worry about daycare, I would leave for work in the morning when my husband got home from work and he would watch the kids. He would usually give them an early lunch and put them down for a nap. He went to sleep for his “night” and I would come home from work before the kids were awake. I would spend the afternoon, evening and night alone with my kids.
As you can imagine, I never saw my husband during those years. Thankfully the kids did have time during the morning with their dad. And most of the time I told my husband to spend time with the kids and I would take care of things like laundry, cleaning, meal planning and meal prep. About once a week, after working, taking care of kids, and trying to get the house in order, I would often drag my kids with me to the grocery store.
To say the grocery store experience was often a nightmare would be pretty accurate. Sometimes the kids would behave, but I was a pretty new mom and usually decided to overextend my kids rather than realize when they were past their limit. My remedy to their poor behavior would be to buy them a toy or a treat. I would make a lot of impulse purchases at the grocery store and hardly ever went with a meal plan and shopping list.
We would get home and of course I didn’t want to make anything for dinner. So we often had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cold cereal or chicken nuggets. Super awesome, I know. It’s not like I really did anything wrong, but I definitely wasn’t doing family meals right.
And honestly the real problem didn’t have anything to do with what we were actually eating for the meal. The problem was all about the family meal experience.
- I felt dread when I looked at the clock and realized it was past dinner time and I had no idea what we were going to eat.
- I felt dread when I would go out of my way to make a meal only to have it rejected by my kids.
- I felt dread when someone would spill their drink on the floor.
I felt a lot of dread and I know those negative feelings weren’t the best thing I could have projected on my kids. And maybe you’re feeling dread too. I’m here to let you know I feel your pain. You may be going through something different, but we can still relate to each other.
I’m still working on the meal planning aspect of family meals, but I know it is so important to find ways to spend quality meals together as a family. No matter what’s on the table, you owe it to yourself and your kids to have a positive family meal experience.
The Support – Sites With Great Meal Planning Ideas
Wouldn’t we all love to have a magic wand that could put a meal on the table, everyone would sit down to eat with outstanding behavior and engaging conversation, and at the end, everything would be cleaned up. Unfortunately that’s not reality.
Our family is still working on finding out what works and doesn’t work for our family. Just like everyone, we have had times when meals were planned and organized. Right now that’s not always the case. It’s a future goal to tackle meal planning and we hope meal planning will be conquered next year.
If you’re struggling to figure out what to make or you’re looking for less expensive ways to feed your family here are a couple sites we love and recommend for meal ideas and meal planning suggestions.
Do you have a great dinner routine? Let us know.
We also love stories. Share your best or worst family dinner story!! We want to hear from you.