Spending time with family is almost lost in our busy lives. It is usually special occasions and holidays when we might sit together as a family and enjoy our meal. But the thing is that it should happen more often. It’s not just my opinion. There’s a science to it.
Many scientific studies have proven the benefits of having family mealtime. For instance, one of the studies shows that family meals can enhance psycho-social outcomes in youth. That’s just the beginning. Having a family meal offers many benefits. So if you have a great dining space, such as a patio with an awning, use it to have a picture-perfect family meal even during rains or heat.
Benefits of having meals together
Are you a parent? If yes, enjoying meals with your children is the best parenting hack you can ever have. Here are some benefits of having a meal with your children.
1. Improves family bonding
Am I giving an ample amount of time to my children? This is a question that fears every parent. Spending time and communicating helps improve our bonding with them. Having a meal together will allow you to do both. This will help improve their mental health.
You can share some feelings with them or ask them about their bad and good experiences since you last spoke. Ask and share anything, what matters is the communications. This will help you know what’s happening in their life. Take this as an opportunity to talk about the day that has passed and the one to come.
2. Enhances self-esteem
Childhood is the best time to boost self-esteem in children. Children are delicate and can easily get offended or excited by small things. If you don’t spend time with them to grow their self-esteem, they will likely become vulnerable to anxiety and depression.
Meals give you the time to speak with them and know if they are feeling low about something. During your communication, let them know you are listening to what they say. Make them feel that you value them and their voice. Also, appreciate their good work and deeds and help them love themselves.
You can also give them the freedom to pick where they want to sit to have the meal or allow them to help in the post-meal chores. All these small gestures will motivate them and boost their self-esteem.
3. Teaches children food habits
Your children learn from what they see you and other elders do. Thus, if you want your child to learn good food habits, having a meal with them is the best way to do it. You can also take this as an opportunity to teach them about obesity and how a well-balanced diet can help prevent it. An article from the Journal of Pediatrics shows how family meals can play protective roles in assisting young ones to avoid obesity.
Set an example of what is a balanced diet and teach them about it. For instance, you can teach them what to eat, like fruits, and what to avoid, like fast food. It will help you easily sway in all the great food habits in your child. These good food habits can further help boost your child’s physical growth.
4. Increases savings
A meal together not only helps your children to become healthier or boost their self-esteem, but it also helps you save money, a win-win for all, right? If you are ordering food from restaurants, then shifting to in-house cooked meals can save you a considerable sum. On top of it, house-prepared food is also healthier than packed or restaurant food.
Well, if you are already eating home-prepared food but not together, you can still save some money. Food wastage is likely when all the family members have a meal at their own time. Although not a huge amount, food wastage can cost you. Also, it is not good from humanity’s point of view. Having a meal together with family ensures minimal food wastage and helps increase savings.
Tips on having family meals
Knowing about the benefits alone is not enough. To leverage them, it is essential to get things right. Here are some tips that will help you with family meals.
- Start with small steps: once or twice a week, and then increase.
- Keep the meals simple on weekdays and large on weekends.
- Encourage children to participate in shopping for or cooking meals.
- Try making the meals as fun as possible.
- Don’t stress if it’s not possible at times.
There’s so much that family meals can do for your family dynamics and your children. All you need to do is look at a meal as an opportunity and not as a chore. This will help you participate in it happily and not only for the sake of benefits.