Family meals; why they deserve to be a special part of our everyday lives
Modern lifestyles, long working hours -even at home- and children’s school or extracurricular activities often prevent families from devoting time to a family meal. Many people may consider it as just another drag, yet more and more families are realizing that the only way to get together and have the opportunity to interact, is by organizing family “tables”.
The great importance of family meals
The daily gathering of family members around the table is beneficial, not only for nutritional habits and the human body, but also for emotional, social as well as mental health and balance. More specifically:
Research shows that when a family huddles around the table, tends to eat a more balanced and nutritious meal, promoting healthy eating habits and behaviors. Since family meals are occasions in which nutrition is learned in practice, parents should teach their children from an early age the importance of eating healthy.
Family mealtime is the perfect moment to disconnect from the daily stress and obligations plus a good opportunity for communication. Family members can share their news, exchange experiences and discuss about the day ahead. It’s important -for their emotional development and balance- that mealtime stays calm and pleasant, not stressful or displeasing.
Family meals are the best way to learn -in practice- the importance of cooperation and division of labor. Not everything has to be done by the mother or parents in general. Share the chores, such as food preparation, serving or dishwashing, and help children (along with yourself) to build good habits also learning proper manners and social skills.
Frequent family meals are one of the simplest and most effective ways for parents to get involved into children’s and teenagers’ lives. Family tables can strengthen the family bonds, since members will gain a sense of stability and security; they will feel that they belong to a closely-knit group, where they can share both their successes and failures or express their worries, therefore improving their mental health.
Useful tips to get organized:
Set a specific mealtime, a time that works for all the family members, and agree on table rules (e.g., sit and get up together).
It’s essential to avoid any kind of distraction. Turn off the TV and put aside your personal phones or computers.
Share the preparation of the table with your children, giving them initiatives. Make the whole process pleasant.
Avoid tense conversations during mealtime. Discuss about topics that interest you. Give children the time and space to express themselves and communicate with you. Listen to them carefully.
Turn family meals into your favorite daily habit. If you can’t eat together during the weekdays, at least make sure you make it happen on the weekends.
As strange, unattainable or outdated as it may sound, family meals should be encouraged and prioritized, as they help families to stay happy, loved and united.