Family eating meal togetherEating together as a family can be almost impossible in some
families. Long working hours, shift work, caring for a baby and
children’s activities can all add up to chaotic lifestyles and
grabbing food when you can. Children eat breakfast in front of the
television or computer and adults eat late at night when the
children are finally in bed. Some families find it hard to schedule
even one meal a week together.

In our family one of the things we decided is that we would all try
and have family meals together as often as we could. It seemed to
be the one time we could catch up with each other, find out about
each-other’s days and feel more connected with each other. We try
to have breakfast together each morning, and will adjust the time of
the evening meal so that as many of us as possible can eat together.
At the weekends we make our evening meals special with candles,
nice drinks and a good home-cooked meal.

These days my children have noticed that conversations follow a
pattern –invariably linked to the interests and personalities of each
person at the table. My husband will mention at least one historical
fact, I am inclined to be positive and encouraging. My oldest
daughter will mention a medical fact, my son will make a humorous
observation. My middle daughter will make a random comment or
tell a funny story from school and my youngest will mention her
favourite boy band. The youngest two will also react with a whoop
when they notice that everyone has made their regular contribution
at the meal table.

So as long as everyone is eating, is there a problem if families eat
separately?

Well, there may be. There is a more serious side to family meals.
Researchers have noticed interesting parallels between children’s
habits and behaviour and eating together with their family.
For instance eating family meals can increase the likelihood of
children eating healthy balanced diet, eating a greater variety of
food, and developing table manners. It can reduce eating disorders,
improve language development, reduce the likelihood of smoking,
drinking alcohol and taking drugs, improve self esteem, and
improve confidence and mental health. The benefits of eating
together are huge and have a big impact on you child’s health and
well-being.

So how could you re-introduce eating together? What would you
need, or need to do?

Most of all have fun. Have some banter and humorous stories to
share. And enjoy the improvement in family relationships which
should gradually develop, and the added bonus of happier,
healthier children!