Sitting down with family at the dinner table is something I have been doing my whole life. My mother made dinner nearly every night of my childhood and we always dined together as a family unit. I carried this tradition into my adult
life cooking and dining with my husband and children. I never realized how beneficial family dinner can be for children until reading up about National Family Day September 23rd.
Family Day is a national movement encouraging, and celebrating, using parental engagement as a tool for keeping kids substance free. Research shows that kids who grow up with engaged parents are far less likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs. The number one way to become a more engaged parent? Regularly sharing a meal at the dinner table with your children. Who knew dinner could be such a powerful tool! When my family sits down to eat it’s nothing fancy. My boys show up to the table in undies and a super hero mask. Ava has changed out of school clothes and into comfy sweats and a t-shirt. Faces are usually dirty from playing outside and a few cheerios from breakfast can still be found on the floor under the dining room table. Dinner is served on mismatched plates with paper towels in place of napkins. We’re not much for the muss and fuss, we just need that time at the end of the day to relax and reconnect, come as you are. Some days the kids chatter can be deafening making it hard to keep up with who’s saying what. Everybody has a story they want to share. Other days Jon and I feel like we are leading the kids in a game of 50 questions trying to get words out of their little mouths. On occasion the kids break out into sing star mode belting out their new favorite songs.
As our days get busier with school, sports, and dance classes galore I have to come up with dinners that can be whipped up quickly allowing for more time at the table with my family. Tonight I’m cooking up Individual Turkey Cheeseburger Meatloaves. Kid friendly, easy, and ready in 30 minutes. Thanks to Litehouse Instantly Fresh Red Onion I don’t even have to dirty a knife or cutting board! Now this is my kind of dinner! Here are a few tips for making your next family dinner easy and relaxed.
- Keep the food simple. Serving a 5 course meal won’t make your family dinner time any more meaningful than serving some good ole’ meatloaf and veggies. It is about the time you spend together, not the time you spent in the kitchen.
- Keep the kids involved. You shouldn’t be doing it all on your own, start handing out jobs! Setting the table, helping with meal prep, or even cleaning up, ect.
- Keep it positive. Maybe Suzie got a bad grade and maybe Billy got detention afterschool, but try not to use dinner time as discipline time. Kids will enjoy this time more if they know they can expect positive and fun discussions at every meal.
- Keep it up! Starting family dinners may seem like a lot of work at first. The kids may have a hard time sitting still or they may not welcome the digging conversation at first, but if you keep up your efforts it is sure to turn into a pleasurable experience.
What are you waiting for? Call your family to the table and start engaging. It is better for your children than you may realize!