Sitting down to a family meal is about so much more than just the food. As parents and caretakers we aren’t just nourishing our children’s tummies. We are nourishing their souls. We are giving them the opportunity to sit and be social with multiple generations. Their peers (if they have siblings or cousins that visit often), their parents, and sometimes even aunts, uncles, and grandparents. We are modeling social skills and conversational skills in addition to healthy eating behaviours.
At our house we strive to eat breakfast and supper together every day. Lunch depends on schedule for everyone. It is important that our children see us eat. We need to sit with them and model the behaviours we want to see in them. If you want your teenager sitting to eat breakfast, then model that behaviour now while they are young and so impressionable! If you don’t want them on their phones at the table, then leave your behind too. If you want to hear about their day, then ask. Perhaps tell them about yours. If you want them to eat fruit and vegetables, make sure they see you eating yours. And dads aren’t off the hook. Research shows that children actually mimic dads eating practices as they get older even more than moms! On top of all of this, meals are a time you can be with your kids without the distraction of work and play. So amazing!!!
Here are a few ideas from our home…
At breakfast we talk about the day to come. What are our plans? What are we excited about? Is there anything we are nervous or concerned about? We also pray together and start the day off feeling connected to each other and the Lord. At supper time we debrief about our day. This meal can be a little chaotic at times but we do our best to ask each twin what their favourite part of the day was and why. We also ask if there was anything they didn’t like. We make the most of having their undivided attention.
In terms of food, we all take at least a small portion of everything that is served. If there is a new food being served we talk about what it is. If there is a favourite food being served, we celebrate this. We also talk about the nutrition in food when appropriate. I try to find a balance between the focus ok food and the focus on life in general.
The list goes on and on of things you can talk about and behaviours you can model and teach. Hope this gets your ideas flowing in ways you can make the most of your meal time at home!
Until next time…Stay healthy! 😘