Why Are Family Meals So Important?
Family meals are sinking into oblivion as technology takes over. Technology is a preferred partner at mealtimes than a family member.
The racket of a device is desirable than the chatter of family talk. Distraction (use of devices) is the new means to get children to eat their nutritious requirement rather than demonstrate to them how to taste and appreciate the food one is eating.
In the era of being constantly surrounded by devices, it is more important than ever to enjoy human companionship over a device especially at mealtimes.
Do Family Meals Really Make A Difference?
Parents, you must be probably wondering what’s so great about having a family meal? You might feel this especially if you have a toddler or two. I have been there and I know what a messy chaotic time meals can be.
A lot of time the parent’s food becomes stone-cold, trying to restore some order and getting your cheeky toddler to eat their food instead of throwing it around!
If this is the scene you are experiencing every day, worry not! Continue doing this as you are on the right track. A family meal has a huge, positive impact on all members of the family, not just the kids! Having family meals are beneficial to all members of the family. Let me explain how:
1.) Family Bonding
Family meals mean having family time. Having time together is very important as it facilitates family bonding. It makes a family function smoothly, even though it might not feel like that because of the chaos or constant demand of young kids. All members of the family get a chance to reconnect with each other.
Parents will get a chance to know what is going on in their child’s life. How are they are doing at school? Who is their best friend?
Everyone will get to know each others’ likes and dislikes about food.
2.) Family Meals Are More Nutritious
According to a study conducted by Harvard, teens and young adults are likely to eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer takeaways when families have meals together. If we have family meals, there are more chances of it being nutritious (there would be more focus on fresh fruits and vegetables). There will be fewer chances of having ready-made meals or greasy takeaways.
3.) Parents Are Powerful Role Models
Parents are powerful role models. During family meals when children watch their parents eating healthy food, they automatically start eating healthily.
Children always do what their parents do and not what they say. Healthy eating habits in children come from parents. Parents should cook the same meal for the whole family. Parents can also teach children table manners during family meals.
4.) Family Meals Prevent Obesity
Family meals encourage healthy eating. If children have been encouraged to eat together as a family from a young age, instead of eating their meals in their bedroom or in front of the tele, they are most likely to eat healthily. This prevents health issues like obesity as they are more likely to have a balanced diet. They will be able to have better physical health which will eventually have an impact on their entire life and health.
5.) Improved Communication Skills
When you have meals together, there will be an atmosphere of happiness with all members talking to each other and enjoying their food. Children will learn new words (improve vocabulary) develop communication skills. They will also learn how to be more sociable. Children will also learn how to listen and respect others. When parents have conversations with their children, children benefit a lot in terms of how to structure a sentence, meaning of words etc.
6.) Builds Self Esteem
The research conducted by Harvard also showed that family meals increases self – esteem in kids and also reduce the chances of substance abuse and teenage pregnancy. When families have meals together, children feel involved in the family. Children feel a sense of belonging which makes them feel secure with the feeling that their parents care and love for them. This security increases their self-esteem. They will learn self-love. If children are eating alone they would naturally feel lonely and unwanted. This will have a lifetime impact on their self-esteem. Parents will lose a chance of knowing what is going on in the child’s life and prevent them from doing something wrong.
Family meals that are cooked at home and eaten together will be cheaper than ready – made meals or takeaway. Parents can also save money too. This is beneficial to families who are running on a tight budget and is a good way of saving money.
8.) Establishing Routines
I have explained the importance of establishing routines to make the journey of parenting easier. If you are struggling to establish routines in your kids, Painless Parenting would help you set them. Family meals help in setting routines. For example, if you would want your kids to go to sleep by 8 pm, a family meal at 6:30 or 7 pm would be ideal. Whilst establishing routines, it is essential to do the same thing (meals) at the same time every day. Isn’t it more convenient if parents were to eat with children which would then make time for parents to put children to bed on time?
9.) Stress Buster
Having a happy family meal is a stress buster. It helps parents get a break from reality. Enjoying the food, family members laughing and joking helps create a stress-free environment. Everyone gets a break from the pressures of life.
What To Do If You Do Not Have Time For Family Meals
Parents, I hear you. Busy lifestyles, jobs, extra activities can put a lot of pressure on doing family activities including having family meals. But family meals can make your life easier. I say this from my own experiences. Everybody sit down together, finish their meal and clear up together. Doing chores together can make the task less daunting and more fun.
Yuou can make time for family meals and make them successful:
- No screens should be allowed. It will also help reduce screen time in children.
- Make the same meal for everyone. This will save time.
- For parents having extremely busy schedules – try doing 1 family meal a week and keep increasing them if possible. 1 meal a week is better than none.
- Ask kids to help you cook and clean (age-appropriate).
- Include a rule on family meals in the family rules list to make sure everyone has their meals together as a family.
- Change your perspective – look at family meals as an opportunity to improve your and your family’s well being instead of thinking of it as a chore and an effort to get everybody together!
- If you are unable to get everybody to eat together sometimes, don’t beat yourself for it. Effort in the right direction is important. But sometimes if it doesn’t happen, it is ok.
- Picnics are great way to have a meal together!
Having meals together make happier and healthier families. If you don’t have family meals together, it is never late to start. Build the frequency of family meals slowly in your schedule. Family meals have been very beneficial in my childhood and adult life.