However, family meal time can easily become stressful after a busy day filled with work, school, and activities. Try some of the following strategies to avoid meal time stress and help your family reap the benefits of eating together.
Eliminate distractions during family meal time
Do your best to make meal time all together free of distractions. If your family is distracted during meal time, many of the benefits of eating as a family may be lost. Screens are a major culprit of distraction while we eat, so ask your family to leave phones and tablets out of the dining room. If devices are out of sight, they are more likely to be out of mind.
Also, try not to multitask during dinner and save chores such as homework or laundry until family meal time is over. Finally, eat at the dining table as much as possible, rather than on the couch and in front of the TV. This helps to encourage conversation amongst your family, which is one of the best reasons to gather together for meal time.
Create a Routine
Lack of routine is another cause of stress during family meal time. When children don’t have a consistent meal schedule, they are more likely to graze throughout the day. They may not be as hungry at meal time, which leads to fussy eaters and frustrated parents.
Following an eating schedule of three meals and one or two snacks per day will prevent your child from snacking too close to family meal time. That way, kids will be hungry and more excited to eat what is on the table at meals.
Plan and prepare family meals to save time
Sometimes, simply finding the time to sit down and eat as a family can be a battle in itself. A great way to save time during the week while maximizing the enjoyment of family meal time is to take a little time each weekend to plan a menu. Making enough food for leftovers on a Saturday or Sunday is an easy way to have a quick meal ready to go for busy weeknights. Or, let your slow cooker do the work while you’re gone during the day.
Set your family up for success by keeping healthy options on hand that can be on the dinner table in minutes. Yumble can help you quickly prepare filling and delicious meals even on your busiest nights.
Serve an effortless yet wholesome Taco Night that your kids will love with our Taco Bowl. This customizable meal features hormone-free, antibiotic-free, grass-fed beef simmered in a homemade blend of spices and is served alongside fresh corn kernels and green beans. This, along with many other Yumble options, are perfect for busy nights where you don’t want to sacrifice nutrition or fun for family meal time.
Don’t be a short order cook
It can be tempting to accommodate the picky eaters in your family to prevent a stressful family meal. However, accommodating this habit only increases stress. Cooking more than one type of meal takes more time and does not facilitate healthy eating habits. Instead, be sure there is at least one item on the table that you know your picky eater will eat.
As previously mentioned, implement a routine so everyone is hungry and ready to eat during family meal time. Also continue to offer difficult foods while maintaining a positive environment. This will help your family accept new foods with less fuss.
Recruit your family to help at meal time
Involve your family during all steps of meal time as much as possible! Ask for their input when it’s time to plan the menu for the week, and brainstorm new meals to try together.
Exploring the grocery store and helping with shopping is another opportunity for kids to learn and get excited about family meal time. When it’s time to prepare meals, encourage the whole family to participate in preparing, cooking, and cleaning. Dividing the work saves time, creates routine, and is a great learning opportunity for kids.
Even if family meal time doesn’t go as smoothly as planned, don’t sweat it. Keeping this experience positive is the best way remain stress-free.
Avoid pressuring children to clean their plates or to eat certain foods. Not only is this counterproductive, but studies have shown that pressuring children to eat can create poor eating habits later in life.
Keep conversation light at the dinner table and remember to be present and actively participate in conversation. Above all, relax, and enjoy this time as a family!
Looking for an easy way to make family meal time nutritious and fun? Yumble delivers fresh, delicious, fully prepared kids' meals right to your doorstep. Simply pick the plan that works best for your family meal time, choose your weekly meals, and Yumble will take care of the rest! No cooking required!