Make Time for a Family Dinner
Dining with the family is about more than just the food.
In between work, running the household, school, after-school activities, and then homework, finding time to sit down for a home-cooked meal with the family can be challenging. But with research showing that regular family dinners can have a considerable impact on children’s lives (they’re less likely to drink, do drugs, or smoke; there is a reduced rate of obesity; and a greater chance for higher self-esteem), making time for the family dinner is more important now than ever before.
According to Laurie David, author of The Family Dinner, only half of families today eat together more than three to five times per week. Most of those meals are 20 minutes or less, and often the TV is on in the background. “Our fast-paced, no-frills society has pushed us toward an assembly-line view of life,” says Harvey Karp, M.D., in the book. Mealtime is more than a part of the day where we refuel. “Sharing a meal together sets your kids’ eating patterns for the rest of their lives,” says David. “It’s where they learn portion control, where they learn how to listen. It’s where they develop their palate, and learn to eat nutritious food.” It lays the foundation for the rest of their lives.
Inspired by her realization that it was her family’s nightly dinners that had done so much to keep everyone connected through both good and bad, David penned the book to celebrate dining as a family. “Dinner spreads love,” says David. "[It’s] one of the great motivations for starting and maintaining this ritual.” And more often than not, it’s one of the reasons, she adds, that people grin from ear to ear when recalling family meals of their own.
Make the family the centerpiece of the day and create a version that works for you. It doesn’t have to be a home-cooked meal — try roast chicken from the market with a quick and easy salad. Even peanut butter sandwiches will suffice! Or team up with friends and make multiple portions to share with others. At home, get everyone involved, whether it’s setting the table or helping to shell peas. And make it exciting! Here’s what you need to know in order to transform the chore of quickly making an easy dinner for the kids into a weekly celebration that everyone looks forward to.