Family mealtimes can be really stressful. Picky eaters, food on the floor, leftover veg, grumpy teenage moods…it can be so frustrating, especially when you’ve spent hours preparing something you hoped your family would all love! There is pressure on us to make mealtimes an ideal time for enjoyment and unity but with tired and exhausted children at the end of the day, not to mention the adults, it can sometimes feel more like a battlefield than anything else.
So how can we make family mealtimes a little bit easier, happier and even fun?
Watch my video over on the blog and read some tried and tested tactics below and you’ll be surprised how simple it can be!
Quality over quantity
First of all, what defines the family mealtime. It’s any meal eaten together by the majority of the family members. Are you thinking this doesn’t work with your family’s schedule? It doesn’t have to be every day, and it doesn’t have to be only the evening dinner.
One happy family meal a week, where we spend time listening to one another, telling each other how the day has been, whilst eating good nutritious food goes a really long way!
Families who eat together tend to be happier and healthier!
The most comprehensive survey done on this topic, by the University of Michigan found that families who eat together tend to be healthier and happier and children had higher self-esteem, fewer behavioural problems and even did better at school. Now if this isn’t reason enough!
Here are my top tips for making family mealtimes more enjoyable:
- Your family mealtime is your real social media! Encourage your children to talk about their day and encourage them to listen to other family members and ask questions as well. Remove all electronic equipment: phones, tablets, laptops and turn off the TV!
- Take your time. Plan your family meal for when you know you don’t have to rush out to take children to their next activity or playgroup. This could be a weekend breakfast or even a long afternoon tea. If this feels all bit much right now, opt for one family meal a week, which you can all enjoy together. Think long Italian lunches! Agreed, you may not be sitting under the Tuscan sun but nothing can beat sitting together, sharing a meal, away from daily distractions. The Sunday roast is a perfect example.
- Serve food buffet style. Put each of the foods into small bowls and place in the centre of your table allowing everyone help themselves. Then you can relax. If you are worried it won’t work because your little one will never go for the broccoli you so desperately want him or her to eat, you might be surprised, children love loading up their plate with different types of colourful foods. Giving them choice and control of what and how much they place on their own plate makes them happier and more adventurous little eaters. Try not to obsess over the food they dislike and focus on the healthy ones they love.
- Bring out what I call my ‘backup bowl of goodness’. Just before I serve our main meal I place a bowl of raw veggies on the table and the children dig in like there’s no tomorrow. They’re usually hungry by then and as it’s foods like cherry tomatoes, pieces of bell peppers and cucumber I let them eat until the bowl is empty. What a great way to stop the relentless ‘I’m hungry can I have some crisps please’, to get the extra portion of veg into them and it totally takes the pressure off when they don’t like the veggies that come with our main! A triple winner really.
- And last but not least, take the pressure off yourself by setting realistic goals. We are not the Waltons! Families are so much more diverse these days and the idea of the typical British family being a two-parent two-point-two-child unit is becoming a rarity. If you are a single parent with a hormonal teenager your family meal is going to look very different – and that’s OK. By letting go of our ideal of what meals together ‘should look like’ and appreciating the times we can come together with loved ones around a table, no matter what format, we empower ourselves to find a way that works just for us. And if that means having a family picnic on your kitchen floor, or if you fancy taking your meal out into the garden: Go for it!
If you want to see what a family dinner looks like at our house, head over to the blog and watch the video!
Lots of love,
Spurred on by her experience with breast cancer, Dani successfully created a wholesome, balanced and sustainable lifestyle for her family and herself. It worked so well that she set-up Healthy Whole Me, sharing what worked for her and what didn’t, providing tips, recipes and regular supper clubs. Through this, she hopes to inspire others to create a healthy lifestyle for themselves and family. She embraces food for the body, mind and soul focusing on foods that are packed with nutrients, antioxidants and vitamins that are both healing and strengthening. She is a busy mum of three, so her healthy and wholesome lifestyle is simple enough to be sustainable.
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