This article is in partnership with Uncle Ben’s.
Growing up we had dinner at 6:00pm every night. Mom cooked, and everyone ate what was on their plates. Fast forward a few decades and dinnertime has changed. Whether it’s because kids have more extracurricular activities, parents have competing work schedules, or easier access to take-out food – there seems to be less consistency in dinnertime routines.
In conjunction with Uncle Ben’s, we surveyed 1,000 US mothers to find out how families currently experience dinnertime. We asked them about the benefits of cooking and eating together and to tell us their stories. Here’s what we found:
Moms Want Family Dinners
Moms reported that they wished their families ate dinner together far more frequently than they actually do. In fact, 60% would like the family to eat together every night of the week – but only 35% manage to make that happen.
More than 80% feel that mealtimes shared by parents and children are a vital part of family life. But only 27% are happy with dinnertime routines in their own homes.
“It is also our time to discuss how to make our family function even better together. The ability to just share and enjoy each others company, humor, experiences…. Things I will treasure in the future when my daughter is all grown up. Hopefully she will remember with fondness too.”
Slightly more families (38%) eat together four times a week than manage to sit down for dinner every night (35%). And 29% enjoy family dinnertime just three times a week or less.
“We discuss current events which leads into history, religion, politics, social justice. It can at times lead into a heated debate, but always an education comes out of it. We can only hope that our children learn to respect differing opinions and gain knowledge.”
It’s Great To Get The Kids To Help Cook
Nearly two thirds (63%) of moms have their children help in the kitchen. This is good news as studies* have shown time and again that preparing meals and enjoying them together can have positive associations with curbing adolescent obesity, eating disorders, substance abuse, delinquency and help promoting general wellbeing. Getting kids involved in preparing and cooking family meals provides a non-confrontational way to facilitate these conversations and helps teens to develop emotional skills.
“The drama of the day in each person’s life. That’s what we call it. We have 9 kids so each child has five minutes to tell the best story that they had for the day. We start preparing the meal and I choose who sits on the drama barstool to start talking. It’s a nightly ritual since we don’t eat dinner until 7pm. Our youngest is 10 years old and our oldest is 18! It gives us a chance to connect with each kid and still make dinner.”
Cooking together allows kids to better understand the importance of a nutritional and balanced diet and encourages them to explore healthier meal options while also helping develop better social skills.
Of those surveyed, 24% identify lack of recipe inspiration as a barrier to family dinnertime – and 58% say fresh family cooking ideas would help.
Uncle Ben’s has the power to bring families together at dinner, offering a helping hand that allows families to make the right choices in food and in life. Rice is the foundation for so many great and well-balanced meals. Check out delicious recipes here.
Eating Together Makes Life Richer
Moms are convinced that eating together as a family brings huge rewards. Specifically, 86% believe families benefit from spending quality time together and sharing stories.
“The conversation, giggles, time spent appreciating each other and the quirks each of the kids has. My husband slowing down and realizing what he has.”
Of those surveyed, 79% cherish dinnertime as an opportunity for starting conversations and for parents and children to find out about each other’s days.
“My kids like to know who had the best day or the worst day by playing the highs and lows of your day game. We go around the table to know what happened in each other’s lives.”
Dinnertime Brings Us Together
“Spending time as a family of five is critical for our family. We are all really busy, so this time spent is a must. We share our day, talk about upcoming events and struggles anyone is experiencing. Dinnertime at our house is special!”
As this survey and a plethora of other studies have shown, family dinners are an important way for everyone to bond, reconnect after their day and help build strong life foundations.
“Sharing about our day — the good and the bad so we can celebrate triumphs and work through challenges.”
Unfortunately most of the moms surveyed are not able to experience family dinners as much as they’d like due to many barriers. Luckily Uncle Ben’s provides solutions and inspiration for families to connect through cooking dinner, helping to bring families closer and strengthen relationships. Help your kids form lifelong healthy habits by preparing meals with them. Lessons learned while cooking and eating with your kids can last a lifetime.
*CASAColumbia ‘The Importance of Family Dinners” 2012
Tell us in the comment section below:
What is your family’s favorite recipe?