We are always so busy that sometimes it might be easier to skip family dinnertime. Our parents’ jobs might make them have to work late, and on some days we have after school activities so we have to be someplace during our regular dinner time. Sometimes it is easier for mom or dad to just grab dinner for us and eat in the car as we travel to our activities or team practices. We are here to urge you to make family meal time a priority in your home.
Lots of articles on the internet tell about studies that show that sitting down and eating together as a family can help us eat healthier foods and gives us time to share things that we do during the day with our parents and family. Some days can be so busy that dinnertime is the only time a family might be together. Sitting down and talking with our family will have positive effects on every family member. Some of the research suggests that taking time to prepare and eat dinner together can help to reduce stress because you are not hurrying to get someplace or worrying about being late. Another research article said that children and teenagers that eat with their families at least four times a week are less likely to get hooked on drugs or drinking. Another reason to eat as a family is because children that eat with their families usually have better grades in school, have more confidence, and have better talking skills.
From all this research, it sounds like dinnertime is more about family and relationships and not just about eating.
Did you know that dinner doesn’t just have to be made by the parents? Kids like to cook and help, too. If different people have jobs to do, then getting dinner ready isn’t so bad. If you assign jobs like setting the table, helping to fix the food, putting the drinks on the table, or even putting the dishes in the sink, then one person doesn’t have to do it all. Getting ready to eat can be fun if everyone helps! Kids can be good helpers if you give us a chance.
When everyone is eating it is a great time to talk about the day and to talk about things that might happen tomorrow or the next day. Talking at dinner helps everybody know what is going on. If you don’t have much to say some days, you might try using conversation starters or share what was the best part of your day or the worst part of your day. You might also play games like I Spy or Would You Rather. Talking and sharing at dinner allows everyone to feel included in something and special.
Dinnertime can be seen as an opportunity or as a chore. If you think of it as an opportunity, then all sorts of possibilities are possible; if it’s viewed as a chore, then the possibilities don’t exist.
I encourage you to consider eating as a family at least four times a week. Put the devices away, turn off the TV and engage with your family. We all can enjoy a good meal and build a strong family at the same time!
Submitted by: Cople fourth-grader, William Townsend, a member of Team C.H.U.C.K. W.A.G.O.N.,
the Junior Community Problem Solvers