Earlier this month, Karen Martini talked to us about the importance of family dinner time. She cited a study for Westinghouse which showed that the average time spent around the family dinner table is 24 minutes.
Karen believes that we should make an effort to increase this important time in our day, and here are her tips on how to increase family time at dinner.
- Eat together more often. One of the easiest ways to get children eating and enthusiastic about dinner is to get them involved and helping, be it peeling vegetables, podding peas, sorting and picking leaves for salad, making a dressing, or rolling rissoles. This not only has them working with you but also encourages them to try something new.
- Something as simple as growing herbs in the garden or window sill in a pot and asking for help picking them to finish a salad or a dish can bring the family together around dinner time. This can also then become a talking point.
- Have a family discussion as to what you/they might like to eat for dinner over a two week period, and plan to cook together a dish of interest or something new, rather than the same old repertoire. Inspiration could come from anywhere; TV or magazines, cookbooks, websites or dinner at a relative’s or friend’s house.
- Change your eating times on certain days to suit different timetables and gather more people.
- Young children should be sat at the main table with other adults from a young age to encourage conversation and table manners.
- Children should be given and encouraged to try what you are eating. You should stop always preparing a separate kids meal after 3 years of age. When possible, sauce and seasoning can be served on the side for them or you, say if it were a dressing with a lot of spice or chilli
- Turn all TV and digital devices off whilst eating to encourage conversation and a relaxed environment compared to the rest of the day.
- Adjust the lights in the dining area to a slightly dimmer ambience, as this encourages a relaxed environment that then feels more comfortable and might equate to longer time at the table.
- Have the family set the table for dinner and help clean up. Everyone can be a part of doing the little chores surrounding dinner times. This is great for pocket money for young ones as well.
- A great conversation starter for children and young adults is to pose the question ‘what was your favourite part or thing of the day, and why?’ and then if you like also ask about the least favourite part and reasons why. Then of course you and everyone else at the table can answer one at a time.