If you ever have time to watch some of the old family sitcoms like the Brady Bunch, My Three Sons or others, you will often see families eating together. But if your family is more like mine, there are way too many things to do outside the home to connect often at mealtime.
But mealtimes are an important part of building family ties. And in addition, there are some big health benefits to taking time to eat together.
Kids Eat Better. With the alarming rate of childhood obesity and lack of fitness, the experts in the field of children's health warn us to avoid a steady diet of fast food. Too often, when we are running to soccer games, dance recitals, or piano lessons, dinner is secured in the drive through lane and eaten in the car. Taking time to prepare and serve a nutritious meal at home can help kids eat better food-lower fat, lower sodium and higher nutritional values.
Parents Eat Better. If it is good for the kids, it is good for us. Try an experiment: commit to eating a prepared meal at home at least once a day for a week, and see if you don't feel better and if you have been able to keep your weight down. Eating at home instead of in the car on the way to or from an event will help you, too.
Doing Double Duty: Spending Time and Eating. One of the challenges parents often have (and especially fathers) is balancing the demands on their time. Eating a meal at home with the family is one of those high leverage activities-you can spend time with your family and eat a meal at the same time. These are both high priorities and you get to do them at the same time!
Daily Check-Ins. Among the many difficulties of moving into the teenage years is that our kids are more mobile and tend to spend less time at home. Having the family together for at least one mealtime each day (usually breakfast or dinner) gives parents and teens a chance to connect they might not otherwise have. No matter what the age of your children, mealtime is a good time to check in with each other.
Learning Good Manners. Anyone else noticed that good table manners are missing from some of our children today. This is probably a result of the more casual atmosphere of today's busy lifestyle, but good manners are essential to success. At the family table, you can practice setting a table properly; you can teach good manners and proper etiquette. And you can see how well your teaching is taking.