If your family is like most, your days are filled with chaos. Everyone is constantly running around in opposite directions for school, work, errands, extra-curricular activities, you name it. You may live in the same house, but oftentimes it’s almost impossible to get everyone in the same place to just spend some time together. The solution? Sitting down to eat dinner together at least a few times a week. Everyone has to eat and evening time is usually the best chance to get everyone to slow down and reconnect after long days before heading off to sleep.
Not only do family dinners promote better relationships, but research shows that eating together can reap additional benefits, especially for your kids. Many studies show evidence of better nutrition and less obesity amongst families who eat together. Others show that eating together leads children to behave better overall by enhancing social and language skills, getting better grades, and avoiding illicit drugs.
Here are some guidelines to promote stress-free family bonding:
Keep It Simple!
Don’t feel pressured to pull out all the stops on a gourmet meal. You’ve been working hard all day too! Whip up some easy meals and don’t feel guilty about ordering pizza or going out to eat at a restaurant every once in a while either. Try and eat at home most of the time, but the main objective is just to be together and stay connected as a family. Make that a priority and everything else will fall into place.
Get Rid of Distractions
Make it clear to everyone at the table that this is family time and not a time to be constantly texting your best friend. That goes for Dad and his work Blackberry too! Also, make sure to turn off the TV, but feel free to turn on a little music. Electronic devices keep people constantly connected to the outside world, but this is a chance to enjoy each other and the calm of home without terrible MTV shows playing in the background.
Especially if your kids are older, they probably don’t tell you as much about their days as they used to. Instead, they turn to their peers first and you might miss out on something going on in their lives that they might need help with. That’s why dinnertime is especially important. You have a chance to reconnect with your kids and listen in for clues just under the surface about what’s really going on. Listen closely and use this time to show that you are there for them.
Check out Libby’s Table for more ideas for family fun and make sure you “Like” the Facebook page here! And don’t forget to check out Libby’s Jingle Contest. Recreate the iconic Libby’s jingle for a chance to win $10,000!