Getting the family around the dinner table can be a difficult task, but it's an important one!

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Dinnertime is very important to my family. We don’t always get to the table at the same time but even then, we at least hold hands for grace. That said, most nights we do eat together at home.

Eating out, however, is a different story. It started innocently enough. My youngest would struggle with appropriate dinner behavior if we had to wait a long time for service so I’d hand her my phone to distract her.

Unfortunately, this lead to the way we eat out now: the kids are on the phone before and after food is eaten, hubby is checking sports scores and I’m looking at my email. For my husband and I, this problem has even crept into some of our date nights. 

Have we let bad technology habits rule our family to the extent that we can’t even enjoy a night out without our devices?

5 Reasons Family Dinners Should Be a Priority

Of course, this unhealthy behavior can hinder communication, hurt relationships and take the joy out of family bonding activities that are so important for our children. Here are five more reasons why we all need to put down the phones and make family dinners a priority once again:

  1. Easy Bonding Activity
    What could be simpler than making sure your family eats together several nights a week? Outings can be harder to negotiate but eating dinner together at home is a no-brainer. It’s an easy way to demonstrate the importance of family to our kids. Pair your dinners with discussion, storytelling, a blessing or a time of gratitude that everyone can share.

  2. More Well-Adjusted Kids
    Kids whose families eat together five times a week or more have been shown to have less problems with the following: eating disorders and obesity; cigarette, drug and alcohol use; poor academics; and unhealthy food habits, per a survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. We should give our kids the best chance to start out right with a simple family dinner.

  3. Family Meals Can Teach
    Kids learn best from imitation. Dinnertime is the perfect time to demonstrate good manners and appropriate behaviors, as well as how to engage in conversation. A regular shared meal is also a great way to get kids to participate in necessary dinnertime family activities and chores, like cooking, setting the table and dish clean up. This provides valuable life skills for your kids.

  4. Healthier Kids
    Many kids struggle to eat nutritious foods like vegetables, but serving healthy foods can teach them good habits. Cook the ones that you enjoy. When they see you eating them, they will eventually get interested in trying them. They may even create their own healthy habits. For example, my daughter never ate anything green until she saw her dad eating salad every night. Now she loves it!

  5. Kids Know You Care
    At home we make sure that no one uses his or her mobile devices while eating. That means that during dinner, the kids have our full attention – and they have ours. We also keep other distractions to a minimum. This allows us to have healthy conversation and teach them what’s important to us. In turn, they know that we’ll be there for them.

While we still need to work on dining out as a family, our regular family dinners are a priority. They are an important way to show children the value of family time and a great way to give them a much-needed break from their Androids and iPads. If setting screen time limits is a challenge in your household, consider a parental control software that allow you to set time limits and even pause the internet during dinner time.

Start building healthy routines with your children by involving them in the preparation and cleanup of your family meal. Set up ways to engage and communicate to make dinnertime light and fun for your family. 

Spending time eating together will become something you all look forward to!

About Gina Badalaty

Gina Badalaty is a lifestyle blogger for moms raising kids with special needs. She is passionate about living a nontoxic life, inclusion for kids with disabilities and technology to help kids thrive.

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