It seems like with each passing year, life is getting busier and busier. You can reflect back on when you were a kid and remember playing outside with your friends until you heard your mom call you inside for dinner. You'd come inside to a home-cooked meal, eat together as a family and afterward help your parents cleanup. Now in our highly competitive, fast-paced world, parents spend their evenings running around picking their kids up from school, bringing them to soccer practice, followed immediately by their piano lesson and then when it's time for dinner, they end up stopping for fast-food and eating in the car, rather than a healthy meal shared together as a family around one table.
If you're struggling to have the quality dinner time you're craving, here are five ways to bring back family dinner.
1. Plan meals in advance
The hardest part about preparing a home-cooked meal is the prep time. How many times have you waited until the end of a busy day to even think about dinner? Rather than going home and rummaging through your fridge and cupboards for ingredients that you probably don't have, you settle for the much simpler option of picking your family up a tub of KFC fried chicken. Instead, take 15 minutes at the start of each week to plan out your family's meals and then write a grocery list for the food you will need that week. By doing this, you will only need to go to the grocery store once a week, and you'll have healthy meals planned ahead of time.
2. Make a schedule
In a study done at Columbia University, they found that teenagers who eat dinner with their family five to seven times a week are more likely to have a stronger bond with their parents, less likely to use marijuana and alcohol and have less stress. However, finding a time for your busy family to come together with their hectic schedules can be difficult. During your 15-minute planning at the beginning of the week, also set a time for family dinner each day. Don't let your family miss out on the amazing benefits that come from eating together. Can't make a daily dinner happen? Work your way up to it by starting with 3 dinners a week.
3. Get your family involved
Kids are always more excited to eat when they get to help prepare the food in some way. Whether this means planting a garden and harvesting the fresh produce together, allowing them to pick the menu or letting them help you make the meal, find a way to get your kids involved in making dinner. This will be a great bonding opportunity for you and it will teach your children by example the importance of family time.
4. Educate your family
There is nothing more important than your family's overall health and well-being. Obesity levels are at an all time high, with more than two-thirds of adults and a third of children are considered overweight or obese. As a parent, it is your responsibility to use family dinner as a way to educate your kids on nutrition, and then feed them healthy meals so that your family doesn't become part of this awful statistic.
5. Get to know your family
As eating dinner together as a family becomes a habit, you will quickly notice it become your favorite part of the day. There is no one that you love more than the people within your own family, so naturally the time that you set aside each day to spend with them becomes irreplaceable. Sharing your day's experiences with your loved ones and learning from one another is the best way to bring back family dinner, because it is something that your entire family will cherish and strive to continue doing.