So far 2020 has been anything but normal! We’re all learning to adjust and make the best out of our circumstances. With the beginning of the school year upon us, check out some of these memes from social media that bring humor out of the craziness. Some are hilarious (and we all need a laugh) and some are…ahem…not shareable on this site!
The coronavirus pandemic is hard on everyone. Studies are showing that children’s emotional health has been affected. Parents are constantly shifting with the demands of jobs and the needs of their families. Financial pressures, concerns about each others’ health, working from home, balancing work meetings, all while monitoring virtual students, are putting a strain on everyone. Sometimes it can feel isolating and overwhelming.
I like to focus on what I can control.
What can I do to make things feel as normal as possible? Keeping to a schedule helps my family feel secure and grounded. Whether my kids are going in different directions or if we’ve all been working/schooling from home, dinner is the one reliable time we come together.
As a parent, I know there are the many reasons it’s smart to gather around our dinner table. Studies show children who eat dinner with their families do better in school, exhibit less risky behaviors, feel better about themselves and eat healthier. Right now, my focus is to help our family feel positive and connected.
September is National Family Meals Month™, an effort to bring awareness of the importance of family meals. Every year we challenge our members to add just one more family meal a week. The good news is that studies show that since the pandemic started, 70% of families surveyed, say they are cooking more often. Half of the parents say they are involving their kids in cooking more often, and 55% of the families are eating with their children more regularly.
Kids want to spend time with their family (even the surly teenagers!). In 2019, 73% of kids surveyed say they value playing card games together, eating meals together and even doing homework together. Key word is together.
The daily routines that you mindfully establish around dinner will help your family feel secure and together.
Make DinnerTime Together–Time
- Plan meals: A sense of control and ownership is good for everyone. Plus, the more that kids are involved in the planning, the more likely they are to try new foods. Even adults will feel more positive about household chores if they share them. Studies also show, if you plan ahead, you will choose healthier foods which is important for both your physical and emotional wellbeing.
- Edit the grocery list: This is a great opportunity to teach your kids about budgeting. Children will learn that not every snack item they want is affordable. Parents will feel less stress if everyone understands and sticks to the budget.
- Prep the ingredients: Teach your children the importance of getting everything ready in advance so cooking the meal will be a breeze. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to connect without anyone feeling like they’re getting the “third degree.”
- Cook: Kids may not realize it, but there is math and science involved! Bonus, following directions for a recipe is a key life skill. Teach your kids to first read all the way through the recipes before starting the cooking. Use the all-in-one recipe page for easy to follow directions. It’s very satisfying to cook a meal. Plus, the sense of independence achieved by knowing how to whip up a recipe is valuable for teens.
- Set the table: This is an important but easy task that even the youngest of children can help accomplish. It tells everyone dinner is coming soon.
- Clean up: Sharing this responsibility is nice for the adults and teaches kids that a job isn’t done until everything is done. (I can hear my father’s voice!) Learning to work together as a team will help kids work with others to accomplish shared goals. Remember, conversation happens throughout the making of the meal through the clean up stage. You’ll never know what you may learn!
- Dance: Put on some fun music that gets everyone moving. Kids love to see their goofy parents dance. Music can reset a mood in minutes. I like to put on music at the end of my workday. It helps me turn my attention to my family and signals it’s time to start making dinner. Prepping and cooking is more fun when I have dance music turned on. Smiles and laughter are a natural stress releaser.
- Connect: Engaging in interesting and important discussions at the dinner table is a skill children will use throughout their lives. Hearing from parents how they are navigating tough issues or collaborating as a family to resolve problems teaches children coping skills. Working as a family team to approach problems helps both children and parents feel more in control and supported.
- Read: Pick a good book to read aloud during or after dinner. Some of my favorite memories are of my mom reading to us at dinnertime. My husband and I did the same when our children were young. It’s calming and a really nice way to be together.