For many parents, meal times are among the most stressful parts of caring for young ones. Imagine spending so much time preparing their food, only to have them reject your offer. The challenge remains the same for those with older kids. Pre-teens and teenagers often prefer to eat alone rather than sit with their parents at the table. If you can relate to these situations, don’t despair. Many others have faced the same challenges and successfully overcome them.
No matter how busy family life gets, one daily activity should never be set aside: family meal times. You can make them more than just a routine by creating an atmosphere of anticipation and enjoyment. The food may be significant and prepared with love, but more importantly, love should be around the table. Your family should not feel that meal times are forced.
Parents will love to learn the following suggestions on how to make family mealtime enjoyable:
In This Article
Switching up the menu is a key strategy to make family meal times enjoyable and prevent the monotony of repetitive dishes. Repetitive meals can have a negative impact on meal times, leading to a lack of excitement and interest. When family members are consistently served the same dishes, they may become bored or dissatisfied, diminishing their enjoyment of the meal.
Moreover, the monotony can result in decreased motivation to eat nutritious meals, as the appeal of the food diminishes over time. By understanding the negative effects of repetitive dishes, parents and caregivers can recognize the importance of introducing variety to keep meal times engaging and satisfying.
Provide a variety of meals, so your family always has something to look forward to. Fortunately, you don’t have to rely on printed cookbooks. The internet offers thousands of recipes for beginner and advanced cooks. Consider using resources like the Mindful Menu App and adjust your search according to your family members’ age and specific dietary concerns. This way, you can offer delicious and healthy food.
Treat eating as a social time to enhance enjoyment and bonding during family meals. It’s an excellent opportunity to share their thoughts, stories, and experiences. Engaging in discussions and actively listening to one another fosters a sense of belonging and strengthens family bonds. Meal times become an opportunity for family members to catch up, connect, and support each other.
However, it’s important to avoid discussing difficult topics during meals. Bringing up serious or challenging matters during meals can create tension and dampen the positive atmosphere. Choosing a more appropriate setting for challenging discussions is advisable, ensuring that meal times remain a happy and harmonious experience for all. By keeping meal conversations light and cheerful, family members can fully enjoy the social aspect of dining together.
Eat With Your Children
This next suggestion applies to families with young children. If you leave them alone to eat alone, the odds are so high that your kids won’t even bother eating. Even if you can’t be together as one family, at least have one adult with them. When they’re accompanied, they’ll feel less alone and be more giddy when it’s time to eat.
If you’re finding it hard to sit down and find time for this, try writing it down on your weekly schedule. Doing so increases the likelihood of you remembering to make that time. And, when you do, be completely present. Turn off the television and let go of your phone.
Get Everyone Involved
While you can’t make a big show out of the cooking process every day, at least once in a while, get everyone involved. Say, it’s the weekend. Rather than do all the meal prep on your own, let the children join in the meal-prepping process, even up to cleaning up. Not only does this foster good habits, but it also creates a new-found hype for mealtime.
Because you now don’t do everything alone, your stress levels are somewhat reduced. The young ones in the family also get excited to try out what they’ve ‘made.’ There’s that sense of pride that they’ve contributed to a certain extent to have the food you’re enjoying.
Along this line, getting everyone involved also means giving family members a say on the menu. Sure, you can’t give in to treats too often, but giving them a chance to choose the Friday or Saturday night menu also gives a picky eater, especially, something to look forward to.
It’s hard enough to prepare good, homemade food on the table. Let alone gather everyone for mealtime. However, going through all that trouble is worth it, given all the good memories, thoughts, and conversations that mealtime also brings. If you’ve long been struggling with keeping the excitement up for your family, you’ve come to the right place, as unquestionably, the suggestions above can put you off on a good start. Top chef or not, take it one day at a time, and you’ll have everyone at home looking forward to when it’s finally time to eat.