Like many people’s new year, mine is starting with a resolution, but, first, a confession. In 2017, I committed a mom sin. I am embarrassed to say that the back half of 2017 we let go of a very important part of our daily routine. Family dinner.
I am full of excuses around this topic, but the simple shameful truth is that we just got lazy. Riley started kindergarten, which changed our routine dramatically and added quite a bit of driving time to our nightly commute. The commute shifted our dinner to later, and, quite frankly, we were all tired by the time it was ready. Setting the table and clearing off felt cumbersome and exhausting. Eating and relaxing at the same time seemed so inviting.
And it was, but it did come with a price. I missed out on much news about the girls’ days, and we all ate much more unhealthily than we should have. Not good for the girls’ growing bodies and my waistline, and certainly not good for our family. So, I am resolved to change it this year. Four months is more than enough time to adjust to a routine, and it’s time we do.
Letting go of family dinnertime brought to light many reasons why we do it in the first place. I’ve included the top four below. It turns out, there is a lot of research out there that supports these facts we intuitively know.
Healthier Eating Habits
Eating at a dinner table and socializing leads to healthier eating habits. One study found that families who ate at a table together tend to have lower BMI measurements. One reason for this is that we tend to eat less at a table than in front of the TV. We also tend to eat healthier foods. Kids who eat family dinner tend to do better with eating their vegetables and are introduced to more of a variety of food.
Kids Do Better in School
Studies show that kids who eat with their family do better in school. They earn better grades and are more motivated in school. They also tend to get along better with other kids. Another study showed that those kids who did not eat with their families were more likely to feel depressed.
Better Social Skills
Kids who eat dinner with the family have more opportunity to learn important social skills that they use throughout their life such as table manners and good communication skills. Not only do kids learn social norms around meals, they also have a chance to learn basic cooking skills.
Families That Eat Together, Stay Together
Dinnertime provides the perfect opportunity for families to catch up about their days. This nightly debrief allows kids and parents the time to download things that are going on in their life, which fosters a higher level of connection. An especially important piece for children in their teenage years!
Here’s to a healthier and happier 2018!