We all know that sharing meals as a families can help build familial bonds and can expose children to conversations and ideas that build knowledge and enhance their development. But making those meals happen can be an up-hill struggle in our very scheduled lives. Here’s a few ways to make the family meal a little less hard to find.
- Let the kids choose the food: Perhaps not every night (cheeseburgers and fries again!), but letting your children create the menu engages them in the process and lets them be a bigger part of the meal than just eating it.
- Enlist some help: If kids are doing their own thing until they eat, dinner can feel like an interruption rather than the culmination of their effort. Have the kids get involved in a small part of meal preparation, like making a salad, to get them in the dinner mindset.
- Work around work: If you know that you will have to work late, see if you can work from home after dinner and then leave on time (or even early — we can wish can’t we). Or, follow a version of the tip above, and have your kids help you put together a crock pot meal the night before. Then, turn on the crock pot before you leave for work. This lets you have the family meal without as much prep time when its crunch time at work.
- Fight the flat-screen: This is a tough one, because there’s more ways than ever to stay connected to the world, and cut off from everyone else at the table. Having a no-technology-at-the-table policy (make sure you and your spouse adhere as well!) will start to open up the conversation.
It’s not easy making a family meal happen, and it’s even harder making one happen on a regular basis. Anything to make it easier makes dinner a little less difficult and a little more enjoyable.
Photo by Andy Butkaj