How to make family meal time count

Could having dinner together as a family really counteract behavioral problems in young adults? Many experts believe it can. The positive impact of eating dinner as a family is worth exploring in your own family. Here are some ideas how to do it.

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  • Written by: Tammy Greene

  • I recently heard someone say, "The family that dines together, stays together." I definitely believe there to be some truth to that statement. But, taking time to dine together regularly certainly is easier said than done. With the chaos of today's family life, sitting down together for a meal has become increasingly challenging.

  • Though I think that regular family meals are incredibly important, I am also in the belief that quality trumps quantity. Regular family meals are important to me, however I have realized that sometimes it is impossible. Between karate and dance classes, our evenings are packed.

  • But, instead of focusing on how guilty I feel about our lack of regular family meals, I have come to the realization that it is important to cut myself a break. I can't make family meals work every night, but I can make sure that the meals that we do have together count. Here are the things that I have found help my family make sure our face-to-face time at the table consists of quality family moments.

  • Schedule it

  • If you are finding it increasingly difficult to get everyone around the table at once, I recommend scheduling family dinners. Put them on the calendar. Maybe every Friday night is the night that you all sit together. Or maybe it is Saturday morning breakfast. It is easier to stick to things if they are on the calendar and it helps everyone get on the same page. Family members can plan their week accordingly, knowing that the family meals are set in stone.

  • Keep it Simple

  • At family mealtimes, make the meal low key. Choose to have something that everyone likes. One of my favorite things to do on family dinner night is to have us all make our own pizzas. I buy the premade crust with everyone's favorite toppings, and we make a pizza exactly to our own liking. Everyone is happy, and preparing dinner only amounts to the time it takes for the cheese to melt in the oven. It is easier to take the time to relax together when everyone is eating something they like and you are not exhausted from having cooked a big meal. Keep it simple.

  • No distractions

  • One of the rules at our dinner table is that we don't allow things to interrupt our time together, particularly the phone. If someone calls during our meal, we let the machine get it. Make this time sacred. Shut off all electronics and don't answer the phone. Make it a point to give each other your undivided attention.

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  • Play a round of high low

  • Over the past year, my family and I have started a new tradition at the dinner table and it is something that I recommend for every family. It is called "High/Low.” It is inspired by the movie "The Story of Us." We go around the table and each member takes a turn saying what our highest points and lowest points of the day had been.

  • This is such a powerful tool to start a conversation at the table. It gives everyone a chance to speak and be heard. It gives us an opportunity to hear what is going on in each other's lives. It opens doors to important topics. It offers the invaluable gift of conversation. Even when guests are over, we always do a round of "High/Low."

  • Getting time for quality family meals has become increasingly difficult these days as our daily schedules seem to get more and more demanding. However, it is important to remember that regardless if you are sitting down together once a week or every-night, mealtime is an opportunity for bonding, laughter and conversation. Take advantage to the moments and make them count.

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