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 maybe everyone eats separately so they can continue with their own schedule. While life may get busy, it is important to set aside time to relax, eat, and catch up with each other. By setting aside time for dinner, you can improve your mood and family connection.
What are the benefits of family dinners? Not only is dinner a perfect time to give yourself a mental break from the day, it gives you the chance to eat nutritious 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 can you create your 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:
- Limit distractions. Make a ‘no device’ rule for the dinner table—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 to allow for more mindful and joyful meals. Need ideas for conversation starters? Try one of these:
- If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?
- What is your favorite family tradition?
- If you could pick your own name, what would it be?
- Start the conversation. Mealtimes are the perfect time to connect with your family. Make it meaningful and try to avoid negative self-talk. 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.
- Take the time to prepare. By the time dinner rolls around, everyone is hungry and can be tired from the day. While days can be hectic, it’s 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 known to be 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’ll be glad you did.
- 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!
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