Eating meals as a family has shown many positive benefits for both children and parents, but it can be challenging to get everyone around the table if your schedule doesn’t permit it. Below we have some useful tips to help make family mealtime part of your nightly routine and keep everyone excited to spend time at the table.
Preparing Dinner as a Family
Begin by finding a recipe that fits everyone’s tastes. Then, before grabbing your reusable shopping bags and hitting the local grocery store or farmers market, assess your pantry; this can help to cut down on some of the costs by ensuring you do not double buy items you already own.
Once you get to the store, teach your children about the difference between organic and non-organic produce. Doing this may take some prior research, but it will help them, and yourself, understand the benefits and what to look for when shopping (check out this site here for helpful information about organic produce and grass-fed meats). If you decide to come to the farmers market instead, don’t hesitate to speak with local farmers and vendors about their production process. Help your kids pick out the items for the recipe, and maybe a few items they are interested in trying! This can help to diversify their pallet, making it easier to pick out recipes for future dinners.
Once you’re home and the groceries are unpacked, it’s time to put on some aprons and start cooking! While preparing the meal, teach your children safe cooking skills. When the food is ready, have them help to set the table, and let them pick their seat. Giving them the choice of where to sit every night makes it more interactive and keeps dinner time from becoming repetitive.
Sparking Meaningful Conversations
Once everyone is in their desired seats and dinner is served, create meaningful conversations to keep everyone engaged. The best way to keep conversations upbeat is to have a few talking points prepared. Ask your children about their day, or maybe share a few family stories. To make your children feel more connected to both you and their family culture, tell them about your family mealtime traditions growing up. Share parts of your day as well, and be open to any topics your children want to share, being free of judgement. This builds that comfort level and keeps conversations open.
Meaningful conversations can rely on the surroundings and atmosphere of your dining space as well. The design of a dining area can profoundly affect how we feel, also known as the psychology of space. If your dining space could use a little updating to prepare for this new nightly routine, do some research into different dining pieces that are commodious and long-lasting. You’ll want durable pieces that can withstand wear and tear, and that will become a staple piece to share meals with your family and can be passed down for future family dinners. Let your kids help to decorate with DIY projects they made to add a personal touch to your dining space as well. This also creates an opportunity to spend more quality time together to make fun crafts.