The idea of having family dinner can seem old-fashioned and even impossible in our crazy, busy lives. After all, our plates are already full of activities that drag us every which way.
We’re driving the kids hither and yon for sports, music, and appointments. Often, both parents work outside of the home, making for less wiggle room in the schedule for cooking and mealtime.
In single-parent families, time constraints and responsibilities can be even more demanding. We’re lucky even to figure out what to feed everyone, much less get everyone organized enough to sit down at the same time to eat.
Reading between the lines, however, reveals exactly why it is so important to sit down to eat together without distractions.
A Chance to Reconnect
It can be easy to forget just how meaningful the parent-child relationship is. This is especially true once kids are in school and don’t need as much intense physical care as in their earlier years.
As parents, we’re distracted and overwhelmed by so much. Just getting through each day can take most of our energy and focus. But our kids still need us on a deep, emotional level. They deserve our undivided attention for at least a small portion of each day.
Meals offer a perfect opportunity for this. Everyone has to eat, after all. Turn off devices and set them aside. Focus on your kids and ask them about their day during this time. Reconnect with each other.
Family mealtime also offers much-needed opportunities to bring mindfulness into daily life. Set aside digital distractions and turn off the TV. Instead, focus on each other and what’s on the plate. Give everyone a chance to slow down for a bit.
Creating mindfulness around food is essential for healthy eating. It sets a foundation for proper nutrition in your child’s adult life. Gobbling down meals while playing video games, texting, or watching TV isn’t healthy.
Studies show that eating while distracted leads people to eat more during each meal. It also leads to eating again sooner than if they’d paid attention.
Taking an intentional pause to eat together also teaches your children about self-care. Learning to tune into what their bodies need is a vital lesson for all of life.
You’re setting an excellent example for them when you make self-care around nutrition and schedules a priority. Even if dinner is fast food or delivery, just giving everyone 20 minutes together goes a long way. Bonus points, of course, when the meal includes lots of veggies!
When you sit down for a family meal together, you have the perfect opportunity to teach your kids manners. Say please and thank you, patiently wait your turn, make sure to leave enough for everyone, don’t be greedy. Compliment the chef.
Kids need to know how to behave politely. Manners will help them in their social, romantic, and professional lives when they’re adults. You can also practice conversational skills, attentive listening, and positive feedback during meals.
Cultures throughout the world connect over food. Most holidays and special occasions, no matter the country, involve shared meals. Cooking and sharing meals during times of celebration genuinely is a bonding experience. Eating as a family, without distractions, shows how significant celebrations are. It helps create structure and connection in a chaotic world.
Remember, meals don’t have to be fancy or complicated. If you pick up fast food one night, you can bring it home and eat it together. Use the slow cooker or cook enough at one meal for leftovers the next day. Try the batch prep method in which you prepare most of what you’ll need for a week of meals on one day.
If sharing a meal every day isn’t possible, aim for a few times a week to start with. The benefits are worth it.
Do you desire more connection in your family? Perhaps you would like more closeness with your child or teen. We have family counselors that specialize in working with families and encourage you to contact our office to learn more.
We understand that seeking counseling for your family, child, or teen can be a nerve-racking decision, which is why we offer a complementary 20-minute phone consultation. Our locations for family therapy are located throughout the valley with counseling centers located in Phoenix, Anthem, Biltmore/Arcadia, Paradise Valley, and Scottsdale. Call us at 623-680-3486,text 623-688-5115, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.