These days it seems like it’s harder and harder to get your whole family in the same place. Between long commutes to and from work, work hours having to stretch further and further, after school clubs, seeing friends, and then, when you get home, everyone dashing off to their laptops to check their Twitter and Facebook, it seems like there’s no time to just sit around a table, eat a good meal and talk.
But there are a lot of very good reasons why you should be making time to do just that.
Your Family Eats Healthier Together
You’ve probably seen this yourself. When you or the kids are just foraging through the fridge for something to keep them going the end result will be something microwaveable, or something they can fry up quickly like a burger or a bacon sandwich. However, when you’re cooking for the whole family you tend to go to a bit more effort and you’re more likely to end up with something that looks like a balanced meal.
Research backs this up. When families eat together it has been shown that they’re more likely to eat fruits and vegetables, and less like to eat fried food, trans fats or drink soda. This has an effect to the extent that young children who eat regularly with their family are less likely to be overweight than those who do not.
It’s Great For Young Kids Social Skills
Family meal time is more than just a chance to feed your children’s bodies, it’s good for their growing minds as well. For young children, sitting around a table to eat a family meal is a fantastic opportunity to improve social skills. They will learn communication skills from being asked about their day and being told about yours. What’s more, family meal times are one of the few opportunities kids get to watch how grown-ups talk to each other.
Research has shown that pre-school aged children whose families all ate together developed better language skills faster, for exactly this reason.
You’ll Benefit As Well
It’s not just the kids who will get something out of family meal either. You will get the assurance from knowing that your children have had at least one good quality meal a day, made from low fat recipes, and it gives you a chance to talk to the your children and find out what’s going on in their lives. If you’ve got more than one child you’ll find they get on better together if they have to sit down and eat together once a night (even if they do argue about who gets the largest portion of dessert!).
Daniel Holly is a freelance writer who works with Lean on Turkey.