What does dinnertime look like at your house?

Maybe "dinner" consists of grabbing fast food after sports practice, eating in front of the TV, or perhaps everyone eats separately so they can continue with their own schedule.  While life may seem busier than ever, it is important to set aside time to relax, eat, and catch up with each other. Although life never takes a break, it is important you do. By setting aside time for dinner you can improve your mood and family connection.

Benefits of Family Dinners
We have heard that eating dinner as a family can be beneficial, but what are those benefits exactly?  Not only is dinner a perfect time to give yourself a mental break from the day, it gives you the chance to eat healthful foods, and allows you to socialize with your loved ones. Family mealtimes can be a way to increase the time you spend talking, an important part to any relationship. Setting aside time to plan, prepare, and eat dinner in a relaxing environment improves both your mental and physical health.

How to Create Mealtime Bliss
Of course, knowing we should relax at dinnertime is one thing; actually doing it is something else. To help you get started, our experts offer these guidelines for creating a mealtime experience everyone will enjoy.

1. Limit distractions. Make a no device rule for the dinner table. This means no cell phones, no TVs and no tablets as a distraction. Nothing brings down the stress level like turning down the volume of your environment. A calm environment allows for more mindful and joyful meals.

2. Control the conversation. Establish ground rules for dinnertime conversation. Try to avoid negative talk or save serious, emotional conversations for another time. Focusing on positive things that happened throughout the day or the week allows for more gratitude around the table. Your family’s space for meals should be a safe space where everyone feels comfortable and happy.

3. Take the time to prepare. By the time dinner rolls around everyone is hungry and can be tired from the day. Dinner can be a great way to gain back some of the energy lost throughout the day.  While days can be hectic, it is important for your family to understand that dinner is a time to enjoy good company, good food, and to unwind from the day. If dinner is notoriously a busy time of day, it may help to get many dinner-related tasks done ahead of time. If you have extra time to prep the night before or in the morning before work, go for it! As dinnertime approaches, you will be thankful.

4. Keep it real. Life gets messy, things come up. Do your best to get your family together at dinnertime, but when it doesn’t work out, don’t stress. If it’s easier to eat breakfast or lunch together during the day, do so! If you need to pack food for an “on-the-go” type of day, find a place to eat together once you reach your destination. Be flexible and find what works best for you and your family!