It’s that time of year again, school is back in session! This can be a very hectic time of year for both kids and parents. Being able to maintain time together as a family is very important during this time. Meal time is the perfect setting to block out a part of your day for “Family Time”. Not only do meals together as a family have a positive effect on children, but it is also a great time to teach your kids about healthy eating habits. Here are 5 tips to help you get jump started on planning family meal time!
Tip 1: Plan your meals out ahead of time! Remember this meal does not always have to be dinner. Choose the meal that is easiest for you and your family to find time for. Choose a day during the week and sit down as a family or on your own and plan out some fun meals. This will allow you to have a simple grocery list together and will help you to save money while only shopping for these specific items. If some of your days are busier than others, remember crock pot meals are super easy and quick. No stress necessary!
Tip 2: Block off a set amount of time for your meal as a family. Putting a set time frame aside to eat together will help your family to fall into a routine. This can also help the family to set boundaries with other activities such as work, phone calls, practices, etc. It is completely understandable that this is a major challenge for everyone, but by making a point of it you will allow your family to grow even closer and have stronger ties.
Tip 3: There is so much to do! Time to bring in the reinforcements; who you may ask…..THE KIDS! Kids love to get involved, especially when you offer up a challenge to them. During meal planning ask them for ideas of foods they like. Next have them help with the shopping list and make them their very own list of items they are in charge of picking out at the grocery store. Sometimes giving them their own shopping basket or cart may help make shopping more exciting. Now it’s time to cook! This is a great time to give kids a simple “how to” cooking lesson. Cooking is always a great piece of knowledge to have at any age!
Tip 4: Teaching time! Research has shown that children from families that have meals together at least three times a week have better eating habits and make healthier food choices. The main reason for this is because kids are learning through the healthy examples set by their parents. So not only are kids learning, but parents are more aware of the food choices they are making. Start talking to your kids about the different food groups. See if they can count how many different ones you have incorporated into your meal. This is also a great time to try to add in a new food or food group into your meal and teach your kids about it. They may actually find something new they love!
Tip 5: Talk to one another! This is the most important tip for meal time. Ask how each person’s day went, listen to stories they have, and take advantage of every moment you have together. You will find your kids being more comfortable coming to you to have those important conversations and even being in better moods. Building stronger family bonds will help everyone to have a happier and healthier family.