Research in fields ranging from psychology to chronic disease prevention has found that family meals are a gateway to establishing a plethora of lifelong healthy behaviors in children. (Why you should make family meals a priority)
According to the article mentioned above, family meals can have a positive impact on academic performance, emotional health, obesity prevention, and dietary health.
Even with a busy schedule, it is important for parents to make it a point to have family meals. Whether your goal is daily, every other day, or 3 times a week, set your standard and stick to it. And if you can only manage 2-3 family meals a week, then be sure you are making the most of them.
Be intentional about your family meal time. Family meal time is not just about feeding your child’s bodies; it’s also about feeding their souls.
Here are some ideas for spicing up your family meal times so that your child’s soul is being fed:
Highs & Lows
This is the old standby in many homes as it was in ours. I know some families who’ve changed the names to “touchdowns and fumbles” or “strikeouts and home runs”. Call it whatever your want as long as you are encouraging your children to share and open up about their day. Remember, this is a no-judgement zone.
Put a box in the middle of the table and have one person draw out a question, which every person at the table then answers. Buy one on Amazon or make your own.
Family dinner doesn’t have to be boring. Maybe one night a week, have your kids pick out a theme: movie nights, pasta nights, color-themed nights, international food nights.
Making the table a fun place to be is a great way to get kids to the table and encourage them to stay awhile. Here are some games that your family can play at mealtime.
A Story Conversation
One person begins the story with a sentence or two, then you rotate around the table, each person adding on the next sentence to the story. The stories may not make a lot of sense, but they will be sure to provoke laughter.
This is a great meal game because it gets everyone involved while still allowing for pauses to take bites.
Make the Moments Count
In our crazy busy culture where kids’ schedules are full and parents are overloaded with responsibilities, it’s important to make the most of moments you have together. Meal times should not be wasted. Make the moments count. Use them to build communication habits, strengthen family bonds through laughter, and learn about each other.
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