Monday, July 27, 2009
No more excuses: Quick tips to make family dinners work
(ARA) - As SPF numbers give way to arithmetic and time spent building sand castles is now dedicated to proper sentence construction, school has surely started again. Despite the fact that family life tends to be busier, there is still hope for parents looking to spend a little quality time with the kids. It’s called dinnertime and families everywhere can make it work for them.
Dinnertime? No, not the few minutes stuck waiting in the drive through or warming up yesterday’s leftovers. The one where everyone sits down for 30 minutes, passes food from left to right, eats and talks to one another without the TV turned on. Sometimes this interlude even pays some homage to the food pyramid.
Research shows that small children who eat family dinners more frequently have healthier eating habits. Columbia University research also shows teens who have fewer than three family dinners in a typical week are more than twice as likely to do poorly in school and 20 percent of teens who have infrequent family dinners report receiving mostly C’s or below in school. However, 64 percent of teens eating with their family five more times per week receive mostly A’s and B’s.
Beyond boosting brain power and nutrition awareness, dinnertime is an easy way for families to catch up on the day’s activities and actually talk to each other. Here are a few good ways to kick the excuse habit and get your tribe around the same table at the same time at least a few times a week:
Excuse 1: “There’s too much going on to get together.”
There’s so much to do because all those outside activities were prioritized on the calendar. Plan early, make some dinner dates and add them to your priority list before something else gets scheduled. It doesn’t matter if you use up restaurant gift cards or stay in and empty out the cupboards. Just pick some days, write them on the calendar and do it.
Excuse 2: “I’m a horrible cook.”
So you’ve found a way to burn water. It happens. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so keep trying, and don’t be afraid to call in some reinforcements -- like your family. Try cooking together or perhaps divvying a few of the week’s meals. It doesn’t just have to be mom or dad’s job. Remember, the idea is to spend some time together, whether that’s making, burning or eating dinner.
Excuse 3: “Nobody eats the same thing.”
Men are from the butcher’s counter, women are from the produce aisle. Kids, well, no one has really figured that out. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to eat out now and again. It doesn’t have to break the bank and there are solid options. Take, for instance, Noodles & Company. Everything on the menu is customizable to please even the pickiest eaters. So you can add or drop vegetables, proteins or change the type of noodles. And with standards like spaghetti and meatballs to Pad Thai, plus soups and salads, nobody will leave hungry.
Excuse 4: “I have no idea what my kids are talking about.”
Remember, your parents didn’t understand the Beatles or MTV. Getting old immediately prevents you from being cool; it’s just part of the job. What’s also part of that job is talking with your kids. If that means figuring out what Facebook and Twitter are all about, there are online groups to help. (Better yet, discuss it at dinner and ask your kids to teach you).
Days are busy and nights are crunched, but everyone has to eat. So carve out some time in the house or at a restaurant and spend it together. Don’t let the school year go by without giving family dinners a try.
Courtesy of ARAcontent