We love sitting down together as a family for meals but it seems as the kids have gotten older and schedules have become crazier, this has become a challenge. We love it because it is often the only uninterrupted time in our day to connect with them, learn what’s going on and share our lives. It has always been meaningful to us but a recent article recently reminded me of just how important this time is.
Did you know:
- The #1 shaper of vocabulary in younger children (more than any other family activity) is dinner.
- One of the best ways to promote healthy habits and avoid obesity is eating together as a family.
- One of the biggest predictors in academic success for elementary age kids is frequent family meals around the table.
- Critical to raising emotionally healthy teens, free of alcohol and substance abuse is sharing a meal.
Seems oversimplified that 30 minutes around the table can have such a profound impact but all the research is pointing to exactly that. It allows you to emotionally connect as a family, free from distractions (did I mention NO TECHNOLOGY at the table?). It allows you to hear about their day, give them guidance in working through conflicts and other issues (you will be surprised how much you learn when you stop and really listen). Although they may not always act like it, when kids were surveyed, eating as a family ranked at the top of their list in terms of importance.
So how do you get started, especially if you don’t have a lot of time?
- Remove all technology distractions including TVs.
- Give everyone an opportunity to talk about their day with open ended questions like what was the best thing that happened today or what stressed you out more than anything else today. Simply asking how their day was will be a very short question.
- Talk about current events and ask your kids their opinions and really listen.
Eating together doesn’t require a three-course meal. It can be a can of soup and a 30-minute conversation. Challenge yourself to two nights a week. I promise you will find yourself wanting to do it even more.