Good Habits and Routines (Or, the Importance of Family Dinners)

Lately, my family has developed a terrible habit. More nights than not, we sit in front of the TV to eat our dinner. Interestingly, we still seem to see the dining room table as the default eating place in many ways–we often eat breakfast or lunch at the table–but dinner has gotten much more TV-oriented than I would like.On the one hand, this is not totally terrible. I mean,  know the many benefits of family meals; according to a study published in the June issue of Pediatrics, summarized in the article linked above, “teens who eat at least 5 meals a week with their families are 35 percent less likely to engage in disordered eating” and with just 3 shared meals per week they “were also 12 percent less likely to be overweight…[and] 4 percent more likely to eat healthy foods and have healthy eating habits than those who didn’t share three meals with their families.” But we eat five meals per week at the table between breakfasts, weekend lunches and the occasional dinner, so I am not too worried about missing those benefits.

On the other hand eating dinner at the table provides another set of benefits. Of course, we watch less TV when we don’t turn it on until after dinner, but there is so much more to it.

  • We talk more. We talk about upcoming school activities, inviting friends over, and family events. The kids like to play word games or 20 questions, too, which is also fun.
  • The dining room is cleaner. The table needs to be ready for those meals, and even though we are using the table more, it is easier to keep clean. If we don’t eat at the table for a few days, stuff seems to collect there–mail, school papers, an unfinished game, piles of books, all kinds of stuff. When we eat at the table every night, it gets cleared off every evening, and it is easy to clear after dinner, too.
  • Kitchen cleanup gets done more quickly. We aren’t sucked into a tv show, we just head into the kitchen and clean things up quickly.
  • We plan ahead for the next day. We make lunches while we put the leftovers away.We make sure homework is done and backpacks are packed. Then our mornings are better, which means the whole next day is better for everyone.

I have managed to get a good menu planning routine down this past month or so, which has really helped us to eat more healthy foods, but I think we need to get back to the table at dinner and save dinner in front of the TV for pizza nights only. Too many other things seem to be riding on this one habit.

One response »

  1. Pingback: Menu, Week of 1/8 « Susan's Musings

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