Making Time for Family Meals
Here are some ideas for making time for family meals:
- If your grandchild has sports practice or will be late for dinner, take the meal to the child. Eat picnic style and enjoy family conversation!
- Schedule a family night a set night when everyone is expected to be together no exceptions (unless it is an emergency). Have everyone in the family decide together what dinner will be whether it’s eating at a restaurant, having a “pasta” or “Chinese” night at home, or having pizza delivered.
- Give everyone a job to make mealtime easier. Someone can set the table, fill glasses with ice cubes and drinks make a salad, or help with clean up of pots and pans, for example. If the children are old enough, they can even help plan menus including their favorite foods or help with shopping for groceries.
- If scheduling an evening meal is too difficult, choose another meal like breakfast.
- If eating together is almost impossible during the week, plan a special breakfast or dinner on the weekend.
- Keep healthy microwave meals on hand for days when time is at a premium.
- If your budget allows, buy the main course, like a bucket of chicken or a pizza, and add fruits, vegetables, and a healthy drink to round out the meal.
- Make stews, soups, and roasts in a crock-pot for a meal that is almost ready when you arrive home.
- Plan meals to include leftovers, so that foods can be reheated later to save time.
- Even though mealtime is a good chance to teach table manners, keep in mind the children’s ages and have reasonable expectations. Use consequences, not criticism, to encourage good behavior.
- Keep mealtime conversations fun, pleasant, and peaceful. A family meal is not the time to discuss school, money, or relationship problems.
- Children have a natural sense of when they’re hungry and when they’re full. Do not expect or demand them to clean their plates.