Those two words flashed through my mind as I was preparing for a cooking class.
The Mom’s Network of Walla Walla presented the class in September so moms and dads in the community could come, learn from local chef Melissa Davis how to easily make new healthful meals and receive some information on just why family meal rime is important.
These are the take-home words: Family Meal Time.
Do we in our homes take meal times as an investment in each other?
It doesn’t mean you find your June Cleaver attire, fuss over all the particulars about properly setting a table and watch as all eyes look longingly in your direction as you enter the dining area holding a platter of steaming food fresh from the oven.
It could be that. But it could be something much simpler.
It is the act of just taking time to be in one another’s company that is important — a place to connect. One of my favorite phrases I came across when researching this was about meal time providing a shared safe place, a place where ideas, dreams, can be explored without being made fun of or put down. Granted, this is the goal, but it can be challenging.
For kids, researchers found the following benefits related to family meal time frequency:
- Having a positive view of one’s future
- Being motivated to learn
- Having positive values
- Having a positive identity
Also, kids who share family meals more often tend to eat more fruits and vegetables and in general have a healthier diet.
When family meal time frequency declines, children are more likely to entertain high risk behaviors such as violence, abusing alcohol and drugs, and deal with depression and other psychological issues.
For parents, how do we logistically do this? How do we create meal times that work for our family?
It may be by focusing on breakfast as a shared meal time because that is what works with most everyone’s schedule. While planning our meals for the week get ideas and input from the whole family.
Don’t know what to talk about when everyone is sitting silently, chewing their food and thinking to themselves, “This is supposed to be important?”
Get creative. Tell everyone they need to come to dinner with one experience to share from their day. Start with your own. It could be, “I folded all your laundry” or, “Today at work it was really hard to ....” Be honest. This helps kids to be honest with you.
We all have our struggles when it comes to taking time with our families. Whether it is taking time to provide healthful meals or taking time to visit and connect, we can all benefit from learning from each other and growing.
Learn more at about family meal times at themomsnetworkww.com and Lostine Cattle Company, which is partnering with the network on this matter, at lostinecattlecompany.com or call 877-581-9618.
Emily Reeves is a Walla Walla mother of three children.