You may have heard it on the news or morning talk shows: Have dinner together as a family often. There’s even a national initiative, Family Day, that reminds parents “what your kids really want at the dinner table is you.”
Studies have found that kids who have frequent family dinners are less likely to use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.
By Nicole YorioEnd the Is it really Monday already? blues with these weekend-extending tips.
You know the feeling — it's 8 p.m. on Sunday and you find yourself wondering, Where'd the weekend go? So often, those two precious days spiral into a whirlwind of chores and obligations, leaving you deflated and drained come Sunday night. In fact, weekends filled with hassles and short on social activities are linked with burnout and poor well-being during the week, according to a study published in the...
But it’s not just about the food, say experts: it’s about the connection. Whether you’re eating dinner, going for a nature walk, or holding a family karaoke night, spending time together builds healthy families and healthy kids.
“If you grew up in a healthy family that did these things, it makes intuitive sense to you: this is what glues families together,” says Meg Cox, author of The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays & Everyday. “It’s about a sense of connection, of being loved, a sense of identity and security that runs very deep.”
What family activities can you do with your kids to build those essential connections? The sky’s the limit! To get started with some fun family activities, try these tips from Cox and Lawrence Cohen, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of Playful Parenting.
Family Fun With Food
Play “conversation in a jar" (or basket, or bin). Keep a container on the dinner table with blank slips of paper, and whenever you think of a cool question, write it down and toss it in. Some examples from Cox: “What’s something you can do better than your parents?” “If there were a holiday named after you, how would people celebrate it?” “Make up a nickname for everyone at the table -- nothing mean!” Once a week, use some of the questions in the basket to spark conversations at dinner.
Shake it up. Every so often, have a wacky family dinner night. “Sometimes we’ll eat with the big serving utensils, use serving platters instead of plates, and drink out of big pitchers instead of cups,” says Cohen. Or you can put food coloring in everything and make goofy food. Or just serve dinner as a picnic, on a blanket in the living room or playroom.