In today's society of hustle and bustle and being always on the go, it is easy to overlook family mealtimes. In the past, it was traditional that at all three mealtimes, breakfast, lunch and dinner, the family would all gather round the dinner table to eat
. Someone - usually one of the children - would set the table, Mom or Grandma (or both!) would prepare a healthy, delicious meal which would be laid out on the table. Dishes would be passed around the table, a prayer would be said, and clean-up would take place before any children could play.
While that probably reminds you of your own childhood, how often does it take place in your own home? Having a family mealtime can afford you with a lot more benefits than you might think. Sure it takes longer, and sure, everyone has to bend their ever-so-busy schedules to it, but just imagine some of the wonderful benefits of a family mealtime!
A family mealtime can enable you to be able to teach your children how to cook - properly! Many children today simply can't cook anything out of a microwave, and don't know how to follow a basic recipe. Using family mealtimes as instructional times can be a wonderful opportunity for you to teach your children how to cook good, healthy meals. Showing your children and grandchildren the basics, such as how to time cooking many dishes at once, food preparation and substitutions, the mathematics involved in cutting a recipe in half or doubling it, and many other cooking lessons can be invaluable later in life. Passing on of family recipes from one generation to another generation.
Having a family meal also allows you to bring your family closer together as a family unit and to involve the entire family with an activity all at once. In today's world, how often does your entire family get to sit down with one another at the same time? Use this fantastic time as a way to start conversations between members of your family. Discuss the high points and low points of each family member's day. Learn how your children are doing in school and extra-curricular activities (if they are not home schooled). Most of all this provides an environment where your family can talk to each other and listen in an open forum. Grandparents offer discussion of history and family traditions.
This can also bring your family closer together in other ways. You can have each family member plan one meal for the week, or have your family plan meals together. Use this as a time to think about the nutritional value of each meal, to incorporate all of the food groups, and to also make sure that everyone has a chance to eat their favorite foods! The ideas are limitless, and it will encourage an atmosphere of sharing, kindness and caring.
Let each member of your family take part in mealtime, from setting the table to taking turns doing the dishes afterwards. It is all about family participation and sharing. Include every member of your family and be sure to be absolutely firm about this aspect of your lives. Many times schedules and appointments can interfere with family dinners, but this is a very important part of your family life, and it should be treated as such by all members of the family.
Meal time isn't simply the time for us to eat, it is a time for us to come together as a family unit and to strengthen our bonds together. Whether you can eat one meal together a day or three, it is important to set aside at least one meal a day as a "family meal". Your family will thank you for it!