Monday, December 3, 2007

Ten Tips for Creating and Fostering the Family Meal

Over the next ten entries, I’ll set out some tips to help make family dinner a reality.
  1. Start Young or Start now.
Making a commitment to having meals together can start when your kids are very young, definitely by preschool age. The good thing about starting young is that it becomes “normal” to eat together, even if mealtime takes 15 minutes. Also, you don't develop the habit of making separate “kid meals” and “adult meals.” It might seem easier to give them what they want, when they want it, but it’s a trap! Having one meal with your young kids also means that they will be more likely to try complicated "adult" foods and not get hooked on only the "white, brown, and yellow" foods that are kid standards. Here are some useful tips for toddlers that are "limited eaters" and some more tips that are applicable to older kids too.

If your kids are older , it may be more the “we’re-all-so-busy” thing that is making family dinners hard. So, look at the family schedule and set a goal of eating together once or twice a week and stick to it. Once you get into a routine, begin to add days as often you can. Family meals feel more like a regular, reliable phenomenon when you get together 4 or 5 times a week. Tips on finding time to schedule family time can be found here and here.

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