Family dinners have become something that many parents no longer take seriously and this is mainly due to the busy lifestyle that we all lead these days. Jobs, after-school activities, exercising and housekeeping are some of the reasons why many families find it hard to sit down and have a proper family dinner together. Often, most families eat on the go and by the time the day is over, everyone is tired and just wants to sleep.
However, with the dynamics of family, growth in children and personality shaping, more and more parents have slowly begun to realize how important having shared family time is. Family time is best achieved at the dinner table, as this is often the only opportunity for everyone to be together at the same time with a common goal in mind – to eat! Of course, some people see family dinners as a bit of a burden and unnecessary, but a fact that cannot be ignored is that family time is very important.
According to studies, eating together also helps with weight control and cultivating healthy eating habits. When a family spends time and eats together, they are able to deal with the stress of daily life and everyone eats consciously to ensure that they do not break any healthy eating habits. Eating together gives the children the chance to share their thoughts and feelings with everyone in the family. It gives parents a glimpse into what they encounter in daily life.
In this article, we will take a look at how to plan a family dinner with kids.
Create a family meal plan with your kids
One of the things that make family dinners look like so much work is the absence of a plan in many homes. Without a plan, nothing will ever happen. As a parent, when the thought of having a family dinner pops into your head, gather everyone in the family together and map out the meal plan for a whole week. Family meals do not need to be elaborate; all you need to ensure is that the meal plan covers all of the food groups and beneficial nutrients. Also, make sure to include lunches where you may need to reheat the leftover food from the previous evening. You can research some recipes while taking into account the favorite things that your kids love to eat.
Go shopping with them
You can go as a family to shop for the groceries needed for the week if they are not in the house already. You could use it as a learning moment for the kids. They can learn what different ingredients are, what they are used for, their nutritional benefits and the basics that are needed for the home. Someday, they will have to shop for groceries themselves and it’s great if they learn at an early stage and maybe you can teach the kids about value for money as well.
You should also plan for the non-cooking days. Do your kids enjoy frozen tortellini or broccoli? If so, buy them and stock them up in your freezer. During the times that you are not cooking, make sure there is food in the house that anybody can eat if they feel like.
Prepare what you can ahead
Even if preparing ahead means marinating the chicken and leaving it in the freezer, make sure you do it. Anything you can get done before dinner is surely a win-win. You will be thankful that you have less work to do. It’s also best to organize the dining room as best you can as when the kids are in there it will only add to the mess and if there is stuff everywhere it will be more difficult to stay in control of the situation.
If it has been a long time since you had a type of food in the home that you really want to make, but your kid does not really like it, it’s quite normal. You should expect that things like this will come up. Sometimes it could be that your partner dislikes certain foods that you would really like to cook. Whichever the case may be, understand that it comes with the territory of home cooking. And you have to factor in the likes and dislikes of everyone in the family before making dinner. Create a meal plan based on what everyone likes. It will help make the dinner much more enjoyable!
Choose the time for dinners you are going to eat for the week, you have to pick the time for the meal and add it to the family’s calendar. Everyone in the family should be aware of this time and be available. Make sure your kids have finished their after-school activities and that all their homework assignments have been completed. The best family dinner is the type that you finish, have a bit of a rest afterwards and then go to bed. Allow your children to enjoy this evening ritual.
Select some conversation starters or “go-to” games
It is crucial to make the time spent together a fun and enjoyable one. You can take it up a notch beyond the “how was your day” questions. Discuss other important things specific to the feelings, personalities, current projects, life goals, etc. of each person in the family. Is everyone happy with the state of things? Are the kids enjoying their school? Is there anything they would like mom and dad to change about their daily routines? Use this time to get to understand your children better.
Clean up together
Do not leave the entire dinner preparation and clean up to one person. Having only mom plan, prepare, cook and clean up straight after will make her burn out in a short time. You want to keep the family dinner ritual sustainable by assigning tasks to everyone. Keep everyone in the loop and get them to work together to make sure the family dinner is successful and enjoyable every day.
Organizing family dinners can be a lot of work. But with everyone aware of how important and beneficial it is, the whole family can work together and make it less of a burden. There is so much to benefit from when eating as a family and you will be glad you made the effort, especially if you make it a ritual when your kids are young.
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