Families are busier now than ever before. Work days get longer for the adults and kids have after-school activities, friends, and homework. it can make finding a time to sit down together as a family seem nearly impossible. Sunday Supper has long been a disappearing family tradition and the aim of the Sunday Supper movement is to bring families together for a meal, one Sunday at a time.
In addition to the love and camaraderie that is shared, science has shown that there are several other ways that eating a meal together as a family is good not only for the kids but for the parents as well. I should note here that dining together as a family means leaving the technology outside of the dining area.
1. Developmental skills. For the littlest ones in the family, sharing a meal together with parents can improve language skills. It also helps promote patience as well as manual dexterity in using the utensils. And dining together helps develop social skills which should include manners.
2. Improved mental health. Statistics show that families who dine together suffer less depression. This is true of both parents and kids. And kids are less likely to get into drug use.
3. Strengthens bonds. Research also suggests that families, when they eat together, feel a strong bond with one another. Time together allows family members to reconnect. Learn what your kids are doing and thinking by asking informal questions (not prying) and encouraging everyone to talk about what's going on in their own life.
4. Better grades. Yessiree! The National Center on Drug and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in New York City has done a number of studies on the importance of family meals. One study shows that children who eat with their families less than three times a week were twice as likely to report receiving C grades or worse in school. Kids who ate with their family five to seven times a week reported receiving mostly A and B grades in school. Dinnertime is the perfect time to discuss homework assignments.
5. Physical health. This is a big one for both children and adults. Families that eat together make better food choices. A Stanford University study shows that kids who dine with their family are less likely to grab fried foods and actually seek out things like, dare I say it, fruits and vegetables! Young children who dine at home with their family had a lower body-mass index than those who didn't, according to another encouraging study done by the American Society For Nutrition. The reason is simple. Home cooking is healthier than fast food where the portion sizes are much bigger and the calorie counts are much higher.
6. Increased savings. Have you checked the prices at fast food joints recently? They may be fast but they aren't cheap! Home-cooked meals aren't just healthier to eat they are also less costly. A sample estimate found that a family of four can save nearly $40 a week on food costs by eating at home.
I would also like to add my own personal point.
7. Food sourcing. Dining at home and having kids help prepare the meal can help teach kids how to cook and feed themselves; great preparation for when they do leave the nest. Additionally, many human kids today don't know where their food really comes from. They mistakenly believe that it comes from the drive-thru or comes from the grocery store. Preparing a meal with your children can offer them a valuable lesson on where food comes from and how it is sourced. Talk to them about farming and ranching. And if you are eating something exotic to your area, talk about the country of origin. There are many fun and valuable lessons that kids can learn just by helping you prepare their dinner.
If you are fortunate enough to have extended family nearby, why not resurrect the (nearly) lost art of family dining? It is important to note that if Sunday is a workday for anyone in your family, it's okay to choose another day to dine together. The day isn't important, it's the act that counts.
That does it for me this week. I wish you all a pleasant weekend and I truly hope that you get to spend some quality time around the family dinner table the people you love.