How often do you sit down and eat as a family in your house?
I know it’s something my family and I don’t do often enough. With the children ready to eat almost as soon as they get home from school, eating dinner together during the week just doesn’t work for us. We try to sit down together for a meal at the weekend but even that doesn’t happen as much as it would in a perfect world.
There are so many benefits to eating together as a family, but it seems to be something that doesn’t happen often enough for lots of families.
Furniture village recently commissioned a survey that looked into mealtime habits in the UK, and the findings are really interesting. Only 22% of the people asked said that they ate their dinner at the table every night, while 53% said that they eat on the sofa more than anywhere else.
What they also found though was that 70% of the people they asked said that they believed family relationships were strengthened when everyone sat at the table and ate meals together.
It can be hard to find the time though, and when you do have the chance to do it sometimes family meals can be stressful with fussy eaters and no one really talking to each other. Hopefully these tips will help to make family mealtimes more enjoyable for everyone.
Get the children to help
It’s easy to feel a bit hard done by if you’re the parent who sorts everything out for family mealtimes. So get the children in on the action to share the load a bit, as well as get them more interested in the food they’re going to be eating.
Depending on a child’s age they can help with:
- Menu planning
- Food shopping
- Preparing ingredients for the meal
- Cooking the meal itself
- Laying the table and clearing up afterwards
Play some games
You can make the dinner table a happy, fun place for everyone to spend time together by playing a few games during mealtimes.
Here are some ideas:
- Would you rather? Ask your children age-appropriate questions like “would you rather be the teacher at school or a student?”. You can ask really silly questions or more serious ones, depending on the mood everyone is in.
- Who am I? This is a game we play in the car sometimes. One person thinks of someone (normally someone we know in real life) and the others ask them yes or no questions to try and work out who they’re thinking of.
- What am I? This is basically the same game, but you think of an object rather than a person.
- Carry on the story. One person starts a story, along the lines of ‘once upon a time there was a little girl with blond hair’. Then the next person makes up the next line of the story, and then go around the table with each person adding more to it. The aim really is to make the story as silly as possible.
- ABC. Think of a topic like countries or foods or people’s names and then go around the table coming up with an answer for each letter of the alphabet.
Get the conversation going
If you’d rather chat with your children than play games, then you can start a conversation by asking what the best and worst parts of their day were.
Then move on to more random conversation topics, like:
- If a genie granted you a wish, what would you wish for and why?
- If you could pick a new name for yourself, what would it be?
- If you were a superhero, what would your special power be?
- If you could only eat one food for the next week, what would you chose?
- If you could visit the setting of any book or tv programme, where would you go?
The great thing about these kinds of questions is they’re quite fun for the adults to answer too.
I know these ideas won’t magically solve issues with fussy eaters or get fidgety little ones to sit still and eat their food.
There are always circumstances that make mealtimes stressful and no fun for anyone involved. Hopefully though these tips will help to get children more interested in sitting down together. They might distract them enough that they’ll put more food in their mouths without a big fuss. They might engage them enough that they’ll stay sitting at the table that bit longer.
Do you have any other tips to make mealtimes more enjoyable for the whole family?