3 Tips to Transform Your Family Mealtime

If gathering around the dinner table after a long day is the last thing you want to do, you’re probably not alone. Getting the family together and having an enjoyable time together can be a stressful time full of battles and nagging. But it doesn’t have to be. Start transforming your family mealtimes today with the following tips.

But first, why are family mealtimes important? It’s widely accepted that eating together in a family setting encourages healthy eating, develop relationships, reduces the risk of obesity, substance abuse, eating disorders, and even improves your child’s chance of graduating from high school.

It takes effort from the entire family, but the benefits of family dinner are worth the energy.

Here are 3 tips to think about as you work to improve your mealtime rituals.

1. Get Everyone Involved

Family dinner should be about the whole family. From planning the menu to clearing the table, everyone can help. When kids are involved, they become invested in the event.

  • Collaborate when planning the menu—Give each child a day of the week to pick a main dish, side dish, or dessert.
  • Rotate responsibilities—Setting the table, clearing plates, doing the dishes or loading the dishwasher; even our smallest family members can help with something.
  • Create positive conversation—Talk about things that are important to your kids, new hockey program they started or the rough spelling test that’s coming up, or the new friend who moved in down the street.
  • Make it fun—Try starting an post-dinner https://www.verywell.com/ways-to-exercise-with-children-1257117dance party. Turn some fun music upload and make the clean up the best part of the meal.

    2. Create Traditions

    Family dinner is a tradition in and of itself, but adding other elements of tradition can help it feel special and help everyone look forward to it.

    • Taco Tuesdays—Selecting special foods to eat on a certain weekday can add consistency and build up anticipation for family meal time. Whether you eat tacos every Tuesday or pizza each Friday, find something that your kids will look forward to and enjoy.
    • Tell us about it—Another fun tradition is letting each member of the family tell about the worst and best part of their day. This is a unique time of day to gather and really connect over the events of the day.
    • Make your own—Create traditions that are specific to the stage of your family and your family interests. It doesn’t matter what the tradition is, as long as it is positive and brings your family closer together.

    3. Encourage Good Mannners 

    Manners might be one of the biggest battles at your dinner table, aside from picky eaters. But developing good manners is an important part of making dinner enjoyable for everyone.

    • Start slow—If you have little ones, start with a few simple manners such as remaining seated during the meal or taking small, manageable bites. Don’t focus on every etiquette rule at each meal time, rather pick one or two to work on as a family.  Help each other to improve their table manners by kindly reminding each other.
    • Thank you’s—Even if your child doesn’t particularly enjoy what you’ve served, a nice thank you is appreciated. Try to instill gratitude for the food served, even if it isn’t a food preference.
    • Trying new things—Helping kids to try new foods can be a struggle. Just keep offering, but not forcing these new foods. Eventually, they will come around.
    • Eliminate distractions—Turn off the TV and put the phones away. Family dinner is a time to focus on your family.
    • Take a break from nagging—Keep the table etiquette reminders to a minimum. Focus on enjoying your family and slowly teaching proper manners.

    All of these tips are important, but the most important tip is to relax and enjoy your family!

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