Family meals are slowly coming back in real life. There was a time when due to desire of professionalism families were drifting apart finding no time for their mate or children. Slowly the realization that spending time with kids is necessary is coming back and more and more families are deciding to adjust their life in a manner that they are able to at least have dinner together. The family meal time is the perfect time when the family can talk about each other and discuss their problems and expectations from the kids. The kids will be comfortable in opening up and this togetherness will help them to remain away from smoking, drugs or drinks.
Eating at home can also help reduce the chances of the child developing obesity which is spreading like an epidemic and as per surveys about one third of the kids are suffering from it or are likely to suffer from it. The short time spent together by the parents with the kids will turn out to be an important part of healthy living. When dining together the possibilities of eating more fruits and vegetables are much more as compared to eating out. This reduces intake of trans-fat and fried stuff lessening not only chances of obesity but also the chances of the child developing high cholesterol and resultant heart related problems.
Benefits of a family dinner can be listed as follows:
- All members of the family eat healthy food.
- Reduced chances of the family getting overweight.
- Reduced chances of kids getting attracted towards smoking as they tend to smoke after dinner due to false notion that it will act as a digestive.
- Similarly chances of alcohol and drug addiction will be reduced as the family is eating together.
- There will be a sense of satisfaction amongst all members and the child will be able to do better at school.
- As the family will be together communication inter-se will improve resulting in bonding between parents and kids.
- The child will end the day with lesser stress and will feel proud of his parents.
It is not necessary that the family meal should be an elaborate affair. It could be a simple dinner with salads and other items of food which are quick to make. The goal should be that all the members are together to spend quality time at the table. Some of the tips to encourage kids to involve in family meals or dinner could be:
- Parents should set a goal and can start with twice a week increasing the frequency slowly and with consent of all.
- The meal should be simple and tasty. It should be to the liking of the kids so that they are attracted to the table and calls for increased frequency. Effort should be to look more towards liking of the kids than the elders.
- Use plenty of fruits and vegetables as they will be more nourishing. You can start with healthy appetizers. While enjoying food together you can make healthy food a topic of discussion and involve children in the discussion.
- To the extent possible, involve the kids in preparation of the family meal. Let them do some research and try some new recipe. Let the kids lay the table.
- Make the event enjoyable and leave serious discussions for some other time. Discuss personal and work or school related problems if necessary and make the event enjoyable for the kids.
- In case some day it is not possible to cook due to time constraint still you can have a family meal by ordering a pizza and sharing it with the family. Let it not be a routine but for some day only.
- Set the mood by playing soft music liked by kids, put flowers in a flower pot and keep it on the table. Light a candle to relax the environment.
- Try to make family meal time, especially dinner, a fun time for children so that they can enjoy and feel secure among their parents.
Do not switch on the TV set during meal time, do not answer any phone call and discourage the children also from talking on phone. Be together to share the day’s stories and enhance family connections. In case a child breaks the rule of being at home for family meal do not unnecessarily show him down. Still hold a family meal and when the child is home narrate to him how the remaining members spent the time and remind him to be present for the next meal on the day specified. All this will go a long way in improving family bonds.