Eating Together – Making Family Meals Happen
Eating together as a family isn’t always easy. A busy work schedule might leave you feeling exhausted by the time you return home. Some days could have you coming back late in the evening when everyone else is getting ready for bedtime. You’re certainly not alone – Many parents often share the same struggles. But neglecting shared family meals could be depriving your child of a host of benefits.
Staying in school is strongly correlated with higher test scores in various subjects. A study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that students who regularly shared meals with their parents were less likely to skip school. Another study published in the Pediatrics journal found significant associations between eating together as a family and reduced risk of childhood obesity.
Part of the reason for the positive effects is that children who eat family meals consume more fruits and vegetables. The study points out that eating together at the same table isn’t enough to influence obesity. But it does suggest that putting an emphasis on healthier eating habits can.
Here we’ll look at how you can make family meals happen.
Make it a Priority
By making something a top priority, you’re more willing to allocate the time to get it done. Think back to when you had a major deadline on a project. Nothing else mattered in that moment as you worked tirelessly to get it finished. If you want to make family meals happen, it needs to be given equal priority.
Just as you would block off time in your calendar for work, you can take a similar approach to schedule a time for family meals. Be sure to let the rest of your family know ahead of time. That way they can also make arrangements in their schedule.
Keep it Simple
Perhaps the biggest challenge that many working parents have is finding the time to prepare home-cooked meals. Such meals can easily take an entire evening. You would need to shop at the grocery store, prepare the food, and wash the dishes after.
Making family meals happen doesn’t need to be all that complicated. There are plenty of meals like pasta that you can prepare in as little as 30 minutes. The key is to keep your ingredients simple. Purchase in bulk to cut a lot of the time spent at the grocery store. You can even take this a step further by preparing meals for the week ahead. There’s nothing wrong with using the microwave or oven to reheat things.
Ask For Help
You don’t need to do all the heavy lifting yourself. Ask your partner for help on preparing family meals. You can even involve your children such as asking them to set the table or pour out drinks. By involving the whole family, you can make shared meals something that everyone can look forward to.
Just remember to keep things positive. Use this opportunity to share any good news or even let your children decide on what to talk about. No matter how busy your schedule is, make a commitment to eating at least one family meal together a week.