september 26…family day…time to start a family tradition

September 26.  A day to eat dinner with your family.  Genius.  Why not every day?

I’m a big advocate of eating dinner with your family as often and as much as you can.  I have memories of eating dinner with my own family, and what special memories those are.  As busy as we were, (all 6 of us), it didn’t matter.  Eating together was too important to miss.  Yes, I also remember being the last to sit at the table, gradually taking my time to finish those dreaded vegetables or last few bites of meat.  And, I remember having to split duties of setting the table, washing dishes and sweeping the floor.   And my sister, always spilling her glass of milk.  You know who you are…  But more importantly, I remember all of us coming together, talking about our day, laughing and connecting.

So important to me that today, I do the same thing with my own family.  Coincidently, we’re a family of six, and yes, we are busy.  However, I make it my duty each evening to make a meal for us to enjoy.  We share our highs and lows of the day, or as we call it – warm fuzzies and cold pricklies.  Sometimes, I choose the weekly menu.  Traditional favorites and sometimes new and exciting recipes I want to try out.  My family gets to be the judge of whether those new recipes are incorporated into future menus.  Other times, I have my kids pick a night of the week and they get to choose that night’s dinner.  As I’m cooking, we talk about the food, we smell the ingredients, watch how it’s prepared, discuss nutritional value, etc.  I try to answer as many questions as I can. I call Dane my “little chef” as he already seems to have a curious culinary mind.  And, he’s the first one at the table who voluntarily takes a bite of something new.

The website http://www.casafamilyday.org/ has all kinds of great information and fantastic research on how beneficial eating together as a family can be.  Besides the obvious nourishment of genuine and wholesome food, a family meal brings everyone to the table.  Connecting, showing interest, being informed, taking the time and sharing the love…all benefits in my opinion.

Direct from the Casa Family Day website…

The Power of Parenting

Whether you’re cooking a gourmet meal, ordering food from your favorite take-out place or eating on the go, rest assured that what your kids really want during dinnertime is YOU! Family meals are the perfect time to talk to your kids and to listen to what’s on their mind.  The more often kids eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs.

A few more tips…

Start the pattern of family dinners when children are young.
Encourage your children to create menu ideas and participate in meal preparation.
Turn off the TV and let your answering machine answer calls during dinnertime.
Talk about what happened in everyone’s day: school, work, extracurricular activities or current events.
Establish a routine to start and end each meal.  Light candles or tell a story.
After dinner play a board game or serve dessert to encourage the family to continue the conversation.
Keep conversation positive and make sure everyone gets a chance to speak.

Please pledge to have dinner with your family tonight, and perhaps every night.

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