If it feels more challenging to eat as a family today than it did when you were a kid, you’re not imagining things. Today’s parents often struggle to find the time to get the family together.
We’re busy working, going to sporting events, working with kids on their after-school homework and tutoring, trying to stay active, and keeping some sort of social life.
In addition, many of today’s parents are also part of the so-called “sandwich generation,” which means they are caring for their kids and parents at the same time.
The result is that we’re more likely to eat at separate mealtimes, scarf down fast food in the car on the way to a Little League game, or chill out in front of the TV instead of sitting down together at the kitchen table.
Look, we get it. We’re busy parents too, and we know that family dinners are downright impossible sometimes. So, in this post, we’re talking about the times when it is possible to get together as a family for mealtime. Making a small effort, even on those days when the TV is calling your name, can add up to significant benefits for your kids.
3 Family Mealtime Benefits
Here are three ways that eating together can help your kids be healthier mentally and physically.
- Kids eat healthier
Studies show that kids consume more fruits and vegetables and fewer sugars when they eat with others than when they eat alone. They are also less likely to overeat, which can happen when they mindlessly eat dinner in front of the TV.
- Eating together boosts self-esteem
Sitting down with their family can help kids feel better about themselves. It shows them that you care about them and reminds them they have a support network. In contrast, kids who regularly eat dinner alone or in front of the TV have lower levels of self-esteem and confidence.
- Conversing at mealtimes improves social skills
One study found that kids who regularly eat dinner with their family from the ages of 6 to 10 were better communicators at age 10 than kids who did not eat meals with their families.
This is likely because they are exposed to different conversations, including those about social issues and current events. Hearing adults communicate with each other can help kids improve their social skills, which is beneficial in school and other parts of their lives.
Make Time for Family Meals
You don’t need to eat dinner as a family to benefit from family meals. Maybe you have time in the mornings to sit around the breakfast table or can make family lunches on the weekends. Perhaps your kids are on different schedules, so your toddler eats at 5:00, and your teen doesn’t eat until they get home from practice at 9:00. You can still sit with each of them as they eat, even if you aren’t eating.
Remember that family meals don’t need to take forever. Sitting down together for just 15 minutes can help your kids get all these benefits. Start adding one additional family meal per week until you are eating as a family five or more times a week.
Visit our library to learn about more ways to help your kids grow up to be healthy and strong!