We have a feeling you’ll be having a lot of family dinners in the next few weeks. Take advantage of this at-home time by implementing healthy habits at the table. Rebuild and strengthen your bond—with one of these habits brought to you by parents just like you. Scroll down to read more.

photo: monkeybusiness via iStock

1) Device-free is the way to be. Want your kids to engage in meaningful conversation and enjoy their meal? Put away the devices and distractions. Turn off the TV, too. We can’t promise this will make your kids eat their peas, but at least they’ll hear you when you’re begging. Need more reasons? Check out Will Ferrell’s latest video as part of Common Sense Media’s campaign for #devicefreedinner campaign. 

2) Fancy it up, a little. Doesn’t matter if it’s take-out or home cooked, swap out a few basics to make dinner a bit more special. Cloth napkins and serving spoons just might do the trick. Dim the lights, too. Make it cozy with mood lighting! (Also, then you won’t see all the stuff your kid just threw on the floor.)

3) Sit down, already. Every parent ever is guilty of running around the kitchen/house while the kids eat. Make it a point to sit down and talk with your kids, and eat your meal, at the same time as the kiddos, for one meal a day.

4) Say one thing that you are grateful for. Or try a game like Rose & Thorns: Each person talks about their thorn—something that bothered them that day or made them unhappy—and a rose—something they are proud of or that brought them joy.

photo: skeeze via pixabay

5) Try a Meal Kit or DeliveryCut down on the amount of dinner prep and spend more time with your kids at the table eating together. We know it’s easier said then done, which is why once a week we suggest making it a point to outsource the prep or even the whole meal. Our Editor recently tried, Plated. Each dish is chef-designed, meaning you get the restaurant quality food in the convenience of your own home. Plus, for those with food allergies, Plated is super clear about what the dish has and is free of.

6) Keep the gab going! We know, it’s hard to not say, “One more bite” or “Keep eating” throughout the meal, but with good conversation and less demands, you’ll be surprised how much your kid eats. Try one of these 26 honest conversation starters for families.

7) Kid’s Choice Awards. Instead of asking what everyone want’s for dinner, try giving each family member a vote for one meal a week. Yes, you may have pancakes for dinner once a week, but at least you won’t have to meal plan! 

8) Jazz things up on the table or in the kitchen and on the table. Gadgets! Everyone needs a new one once in a while. We love the rose-napkin holders and the little watering can for dressing!  

photo: Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

9) Let the kids help. No matter their age or stage, getting the kids engaged in meal prep can make them more interested in the meal itself. Plus, they will beam with pride when you brag about how helpful they were. Check out this list of things kids can do in the kitchen by themselves. 

10) Consistency is key. We don’t mean the mashed potatoes: whenever possible, eat dinner at the same time every day. The predictability is comforting for kids, and it increases the chances they will be engaged in the meal.

11) Relocate. Of course, you want the majority of your meals to be around the family dinner table but sometimes a picnic on the living room floor, a meal on the deck if the weather is nice or even heading to a park can refresh everyone’s attitude about being together.

What are your family’s traditions for mealtime? Share with our community in a comment below! 

—Amber Guetebier


mealtime habits

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