Studies have shown that children who routinely spend dinner time together with their families perform better in school and have fewer social problems. It makes sense that a child who can take the time to relax and chat with his parents and siblings about his successes as well as his problems will have more successes and fewer problems.
But how to achieve this worthy goal? We all know the time pressures families are under today. Usually, mom and dad are both working, and often get home too late to enjoy the luxury of a relaxed dinner together. It takes a bit of planning and a lot of desire, but family meals and the value that comes of them can once again be part of your family’s life. Here are a few ideas to make that happen.
It doesn’t have to be EVERY day
If your schedule means stopping at the soccer field on the way home from work to watch the end of the game and pick the kids up, you may not be able to have the traditional sit down dinner on those nights. Don’t make yourself a slave to the tradition, just make it a goal to have dinner on those nights when you are not running around with school or sports related activities. One or two nights a week are enough to make sure your children sit down and enjoy a relaxed meal with you and appreciate each other’s company. Sure, you may have to review and entire week of successes and problems, but as long as you children have a moment to share conversation and enjoy your company, you have achieved your goal.
It doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal
If you are not having a sit down dinner each evening because you don’t have the time to make big meals with all the trimmings, lower your standards. There are plenty of healthy, easy to prepare meals that you and your family love, or you can cook big on the weekend and have great well planned leftovers during the week. Even good takeout food qualifies, if you make it healthy and filling.
It doesn’t have to be dinner time
Here is a novel twist: do you necessarily have to sit down over a meal at dinner time? If your kids are grabbing a snack when they get home from school and then running out to activities, why not make the snacks more healthy and substantial and just hold off dinner until later? The idea is to have some quality time when you can all relax and enjoy your experiences. How about a bowl of soup or a platter of cheese and crackers and fruit later in the evening, when everyone is back home and settled in?
When you have a goal, it often takes imagination and flexibility to achieve it, but if everyone is working towards the same goal, it is easy. (Well, almost.)
If you don’t have the time to cook a meal for your family, it doesn’t hurt to occasionally hire someone to do it for you. Unfortunately even a cook could have ulterior motives; if you want to know how to keep your family safe from people you hire, this website can help.
Cover image by jacqueline-w via Flickr.