In today’s busy lifestyles, it is getting harder to have meals together with the children as there is always something that prevents us from doing so. This is especially true for single parent families because the parent is so busy trying to run everything smoothly. However, studies have shown that eating together can potentially be your best activities in the house and can yield some surprising rewards for the parent.
Cooking and Eating Together Bonds you and your children
Cooking for the family during the weekdays can be a challenge for most single parents as they have to juggle both work and home. However, this can be tackled by eating out with your children instead. Research by family life professionals found that eating together as a family improved family communications, give the children a sense of belonging, and allow the children the opportunities to practise social skills and table manners. It also builds stronger family traditions and impact family values to the children.
You can consider cooking over the weekends and getting your children to help you with the chores. The kitchen can be a great place to bond with your children as the warm cosy environment of cooking makes everyone feels relaxed and comfortable. The kitchen can be a place when secrets are traded between you and your children, or discussing an important decision for the family. The fact that you are working together makes the discussion less tense and at the same time, provides some distractions for all of you when the discussion becomes a little heated. After cooking is done, sitting down together to enjoy a meal that is made by all of you creates an atmosphere of love and contentment. If you are having some trouble with mealtimes and find that it is hardly a joyous occasion, it could be that there are some missing elements.
Making Mealtimes Fun and Memorable
There are certain pointers which can create fun and closeness during mealtimes. By creating an environment that is warm and friendly, your children and you will value the time spent together and enjoy the companionship together.
- – Allow your children to choose what is for dinner occasionally, even if you feel that the choice is unhealthy. By empowering them to choose, you give them excitement in planning for the next mealtime together, creating that sense of belonging and closeness to the family.
- – Set some ground rules for mealtimes such as no talking with your mouth full or asking for permission before leaving the table. Allow your children to police one another as well as you to create an element of fun even as you teach them table manners.
- – Engage your children in positive talk during mealtimes by asking them about the positive things that happen to them during the day. Even if there is nothing positive, encourage your children to reflect what positivity could come out of the negative experiences that they have faced that day. If you do this regularly, your children learn how to be positive even in the most difficult times of their lives.
- – Another way to engage in conversation is to share the “highs and lows” of the day with one another. You can either take turns to share or appoint your children as the facilitator in which they will decide who starts to share first. As a parent, you must also share your high and low of the day with your children when it is your turn. By sharing the day, you get to learn something about what your children have been up to and at the same time, they will understand what you are going through as a single parent.
- – Create times of celebrations. If your child has achieved his or her goals in something, make a big fuss out of it and celebrate it during the mealtime together. Make a show to give something special to the child and use the opportunity to teach the other children to be happy for their sibling. If you have achieved some goals, share it with your children and reward yourself with something special too.
- – Create one day out of every week or every two weeks for a day where you make something special for the family. It could be the children’s favourite pasta, or a dessert which they love. By creating a family tradition, you can slowly get more excited children for the family mealtimes.
All the above are little suggestions that can make your mealtimes with your children fun and more memorable for all of you. Try it out and you may start seeing some positive changes in the family.