Phone calls, Facebook, soccer practice, working overtime at the office. . So many things get in the way of spending quality time together with family members. However, quality time, especially eating dinner together as a family, is crucial to a healthy family life and raising healthy children. Sharing dinner together is also a great time to check in with each other and provides emotional support and comfort to each member.
Set a Tone
If your family is not in the habit of spending quality time for each other, it may be tough to start out. But, incorporating quality time into everyday routine through family dinners can be an easy, fun way to begin. Family dinners are a time to plan meals together, have conversation, and take a necessary break from phones, computers, and work commitments.
Veggie of the Week
One way to get younger children involved in creating healthy meals for the family is to have a vegetable of the week. Letting young children pick a vegetable that they would like makes eating vegetables a positive experience, rather than something they “have to do.” Bringing young children to a farmer’s market can expose them to different ways vegetables are cooked or served and instills the notion that healthy eating is a lifestyle choice.
Having an end-of-week dinner can be an excellent, healthful way for everyone to reconnect. Creating a dinner based on the rainbow diet can be a fun way to spice up the dinner and ensure that children are engaged in meal-planning. Go to the grocery store or farmer’s market and ask children to pick out fruits and vegetables of as many colors of the rainbow as possible. Rainbow Friday could include an arugula salad with yellow, red, and green peppers and nectarines for dessert or eggplant parmigiana with fresh tomatoes.
Breakfast & Baking
Sometimes planning for family dinners can still be stressful. After-school and work schedules can make it difficult for families to sit down together and connect, but breakfast, especially on the weekends, can be a great time. Giving older children the opportunity to make breakfast for the family can be a great idea. On Sundays, families can make oatmeal and fresh fruit together or bake danishes together for everyone to enjoy throughout the week.
Remember to make scheduling and goals for family quality time basic at first and incorporate healthful eating goals into the everyday routine. Start off by planning family dinner twice a week. Once this is established as a habit and children are engaged in planning and thinking about family quality time, it is easier to incorporate new activities.