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Breaking bread: The importance of family mealtime

Sitting down to eat with your kids provides an opportunity for bonding and learning. It’s important for families to sit down together for meals as often as possible.

family eating dinner together

Start with breakfast

Family mealtime isn’t just about dinner. Breakfast is also essential. Kids who eat breakfast every day will be more alert, energized and focused at school — and the same goes for adults at work. A healthy breakfast doesn’t have to be time consuming to prepare. Skip the sugared cereals and treats from the bakery. Opt for a combination of whole grains, lean proteins and fruits instead. Yogurt with granola or oatmeal with bananas and walnuts is a great way to start the day.

Sit down to dinner

Research shows that kids who sit down to dinner with their families are more likely to excel in school, stay out of trouble, communicate more openly and avoid risky behaviors. Dinnertime provides an opportunity to learn what is going on in your kids’ lives. It’s a terrific time to bond. While at the table, don’t have the TV on or sit silently. Instead, ask your children about their day. Talk about their friends, their studies and their achievements, as well as upcoming events and activities. Together over dinner you can make family decisions — big and small. Discuss what movie to rent this weekend and where to go on vacation this summer. By talking with your kids while breaking bread, you can get to know more about them and strengthen your family bonds.

Teaching at the table

Family mealtime also offers kids an opportunity to learn about good table manners and a whole lot more. Start by preparing meals together. Kids can learn about fractions and math (as well as brush up on spelling and vocabulary) by helping cook from recipes. Incorporate unusual or foreign ingredients to your meals to help expand your children’s knowledge about different foods and cultures. At the table, you can talk about where the foods come from and how they are grown. You can also grow your own vegetables in the garden and take your kids to you-pick-it farms or farmers markets so they can learn even more. This will help teach your kids to be thankful and appreciative of their meals.

Identify obstacles

Many families think it’s impossible to find ways to sit down to eat together. Even though coordinating your schedules can be difficult, it’s certainly not impossible. If your children are overscheduled with too many sports, clubs and other extracurricular activities, it may be time to cut back a little bit and make time for family. Make a commitment to share mealtime together as a family — it’s worth it.

Quick tip

If you can’t manage to clear your schedules every evening for family mealtime, make a pact with your kids to eat dinner together at least three days a week. Three days is better than none at all, and hopefully you can have breakfast together several days each week as well.

More on family

5 Everyday ways to bring your family closer
6 Things to do before bed every night
6 Reasons to start your morning 30 minutes earlier

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