Rules for relaxed family meals 16



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

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. 

Rules for relaxed family meals

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.

How to have relaxed family mealtimes

Some posts to make family meals times more achievable

10 Tips for encouraging family mealtimes

Connect with your children at mealtimes

Top tips for picky eaters

10 Simple Hacks for the Perfect Roast Dinner in a Hurry

Kid friendly slow cooker recipes

Kids in the kitchen – Eating what you grow

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16 thoughts on “Rules for relaxed family meals

    • Jen Walshaw Post author

      When the boys were younger, D used to eat later on his own, but now he does try to get in. Plus the boys are older so we eat slightly later. it is all about doing what fits in best for you as a family.

  • Susanna

    what a great topic – I think it is so important to at least have this time together. We turn off everything and just talk about the day. x

    • Jen Walshaw Post author

      The more I researched family mealtimes the more convinced I was of why it is important for me and mine. We turn everything off to Susanna, it makes a difference.

  • Penny

    It’s so important to me too, and I think you and Ikea have hit on how tech can make that harder and harder these days. I’m just about to switch off for a whole week – wish me luck. I bet you have a lovely time with your boys, they are so grown up these days!

    • Jen Walshaw Post author

      They are definitely growing up fast – it seems as though we have hit the fast forward button. The more I research into why we need to eat together the more it cements the fact that it is key for me and for them too. I really loved the ikea ad and the additional information they have provided with it. It isn’t about what is right or wrong, just about doing what is best for individual families.

  • Notmyyearoff

    Wow I didn’t know about the impact of lessening suicide by eating together. That’s such an important thing isn’t it for some. We became a bit slack with gadgets and then removing them completely became such hard work.

  • Louise

    We don’t always have dinner together as my boys won’t wait to eat until their daddy gets home. They are starving after school. But we always eat breakfast together round the table. As they get older I intend to sit down together more x

  • Anne

    I love that video, I would never interrupt a family meal to take photos although I have been known to take a sneaky photo when dining out if it’s for a review. We do sit at the table but no all together, the other two adults eat in the other room (less arguments that way) but all computers and screens are banned until everyone has finished. By then the kids are usually running around the garden and have forgotten that really really important You Tube video they just had to finish watching before we dragged them away to eat dinner 😉

  • tanya

    That was a funny video. I must admit I am one who sometimes takes a picture of the food I make 🙂 I do like to have a no phones at the table rule, though. I notice everyone talks more 🙂

  • Michelle

    When I was a kid, we rarely had meals together because of dad’s work – it was only ever on special occasions really. I love dining together as a family now though, as we can all talk about what we’ve been up to.

  • oana79

    I am in the same boat, Jen, I do take way too many photos and forget to relax not only at meal times but also when we spend time with each other.xx

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