Soccer Carpool and a Volleyball Game Equals no Family Dinner Again Tonight
Tonight, I have to take my son to soccer, drive an hour to my daughter's volleyball game, and my husband just informed me he's working late tonight. I've been up since 5:30 AM and have been working all day, but I'll make a full dinner then leave it out on the counter for everyone to grab whenever they can. Sound familiar?
I would much rather have a relaxed family dinner and sit around the table talking about our day, but unfortunately, work and after-school activates usually prevent us from doing this during the week. I always tell people how important it is to have family meals, but in the frenzy of daily life, I need a reminder myself sometimes!
About a year ago, I came across this great article that summarized the benefits of the family dinner, but please forgive me because I can't for the life of me find the source. I am reprinting it below because I think we can all benefit from a refresher, or as my mother would say, a "kick in the rear!"
10 Great Reasons to Eat Dinner as a Family
1. When families eat together, everyone tends to eat healthier. People who have frequent family meals consume more calcium, fiber, iron, and vitamins B6, B12, C and E. It could be because home-cooked meals are healthier than fast food and restaurant meals. (Source: Archives of Family Medicine)
2. Children tend to eat more fruits and vegetables when they frequently have dinner with their families. They also tend to eat fewer snack foods. (Source: American Dietetic Association) When we eat all together, we cook meatloaf with veggies on the side or we make stew. When the kids eat alone, we heat up chicken fingers. Not good.
3. Children in families who eat dinner together are less likely to be overweight (Source: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine). I think this is also because parents are watching what they eat! And when we snack in front of the TV, we eat way more than if we were sitting at a table.
Good for the brain
4. Children from families who eat meals together get better grades than their peers who don't have lots of family meal times (Source: Lou Harris-Reader's Digest National Poll).
5. When families eat together frequently, children have better language skills compared to kids from families who don't have family mealtimes often. (Source: Harvard University) TV doesn't teach language skills well. When we eat at the table, kids hear their parents talking to each other, too. It's great!
Good for emotional health
6. Children of families who eat together report feeling happier and are more optimistic about the future, than their peers who have infrequent family meals. (Source: Lou Harris- Reader's Digest National Poll)
7. Teenagers are less likely to use drugs, smoke, and drink alcoholic drinks, when their families eat together regularly. (Source: Columbia University) I read this study a few years ago and have quoted it frequently. When we eat dinner, we catch up with our kids. They know we care so they're less likely to give in to peer pressure!
8. It may come as a surprise, but among Moms who work outside the home, those who have family mealtimes reported feeling less stress than those who had family dinners lessoften. (Source: Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal) When we feel that our priorities are being met, we feel less stress.
9. The more often teen girls had meals with their families, the less likely they were to have symptoms of depression and suicidal behaviors. (Source: University of Minnesota) And fewer teenage pregnancies!
Good for family bonding
10. Eating together gives family members the chance to communicate and build relationships, something that both adults and children appreciate very much. (Source: Nutrition Education Network of Washington & Oprah Winfrey's "Family Dinner Experiment")
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Aimee Symington is an etiquette expert, instructor and inventor of the nationally-selling board game on manners called Blunders.