As you can imagine, we don’t get to sit down to a ‘family dinner’ all that often. In the mornings I’ve found myself using the time when B1 is eating his breakfast to get things done uninterupted (eg. hang washing on the line, take a shower), and used the time similarly when he has his lunch (if we are home!).
For years though I’ve been reading and hearing about how valuable it is to switch off the TV and any other distractions and to have dinner together as a family. I’ve heard about it on the radio, on talk shows, whilst studying at University (I did Social Science) as well as various articles online. Google it and you’ll find plenty, such as the article in Time Magazine that says kids ”who dine with their folks are healthier, happier and better students” , or a meal planning site that references studies that families eating together tend to eat healther food.
I’ve been challenged recently to sit down and eat more breakfasts and lunches with my boys. I don’t eat all meals with them - but here’s 7 reasons why I’m making more of an effort!
1) Eating a meal with my child makes them feel special. It’s me intentionally giving them my full attention. B1 absolutely loves it when I still with him at his little table & chair set, or when he sits up at our big table!
2) It’s an opportunity to learn about my kids. I can talk to them about what they like/dislike, what they are enjoying, their personalities, what makes them tick!
3) It’s a guarantee I won’t skip the meal. I find it so easy to be doing things whilst the kids are eating, that I’ll skip the meal myself. Eating regularly is important for my metabolism as well as my energy levels for the rest of the day. (I know my body will thank me for this!)
4) Eating with my kids is accountability to eat better. By eating the same as my 3yo, and having him see what I eat, I’ll eat healthier food. I won’t be tempted to eat more, binge or just grab something later thats quicker/unhealthier (eg. that bag of Twisties that’s been calling my name!)
5) I’ll be setting a good example for my kids of mealtimes/routines. It’s demonstrationg to my kids the importance of routine, not skipping meals, and taking time out to have a break.
6) It gives me opportunity to role-model and teach my kids positive social and communication skills. This is especially the case during meals (eg. breakfast, lunch) when there are less of us eating together than would normally do at dinner time (due to siblings being at school/activities/sleeping and/or spouse at work etc.). When it’s just my 3yo and I sitting down together, it gives me a more concentrated time to role-model table manners and to have specific conversations with him than when there are four or five of us at the dinner table chatting about our day.
7) It’s a great way to multitask – look at those 6 things above I’ve just achieved!! You can do it too!