I am a big advocate of eating together as a family, but I do not that it can be super stressful especially if you have picky eaters or younger children. However, as far as I am concerned it is one of those times where the benefits far outway the effort required as parents as everyone benefits from relaxed family meals.
Rules for relaxed family meals
Over the years I have really developed some hard and fast rules for relaxed family meals and now my boys are 10 and 11 family meals are something that we always look forward to.
Tips for relaxed family meals
It really doesn’t matter what we are eating as long as we are eating it together. Yes ideally it would be a cooked from scratch healthy meal, but you know what, this isn’t an ideal world. Kids can be picky, we are all time starved and sometimes it just pays to concentrate on being together. So whether you are having breakfast for dinner or a take away pizza, so stressing and take the time to enjoy being together.
No tech at the table. This is one of those hard and fast rules that I have and have always had, especially when we are at home. We leave our phones on silent and neither them nor tablets are brought to the table. TV’s are turned off and we concentrate on each other.
Make your own rules and rituals. What works for one family might not work for others, do what works for you. Also, bear in mind that kids grow up and go through phases, so sometimes you have to be flexible.
Mealtimes doesn’t always mean dinner. If we are all coming and going at dinner time then I try to schedule in a family breakfast or brunch. Do not set unrealistic expectations of yourself or your children especially if you are trying to introduce new habits. Do not expect a three year old to stay at the table for all your meal. provide them with things to keep them occupied and let them leave early.
It doesn’t always have to be formal. My boys know that we have rules for setting and unsetting the table, helping with preparation and cooking, but sometimes our best times are the ones where we decide to take advantage of the beautiful weather and have chips at the beach, have an unscheduled BBQ or just take our food out to the garden to eat.
I love that Ikea are focussing on relaxed family meals and this video is really funny. How many times have you kept the kids waiting for their meals whilst you take photos to pop on Instagram? I know I am guilty of doing it!
I know that the video makes light of it, but in reality, many people compare themselves to what they see on social media. In fact research by Ikea shows that 60% of people use social media to find food ideas. The images we see on Instagram are just a tiny snap of someone’s life and they are often posed. So why not turn off social media for a while and reconnect with the important people in your life.
I have learned that it is important to me and MadDad that we eat together as a family and we choose to that it be one of our family priorities, but that is our choice. Studies have shown that teens who eat with their family are less likely to smoke, drink or commit suicide and that they have high self esteem and receive high grades at school. it really seemed like a no-brainer to us, plus we grew up with families that ate together.
As a family, we are time starved and we use it to reconnect and leave behind the things we do on our own such as work, homework and video games. Dinner time is a time to reconnect, laugh, chat and keep up to date with each other.