“Maaaaaan, y’all ain’t gonna believe what we did at school one time.” That’s how my younger brother prepped us for one of his college escapade stories. He played division one basketball and was always getting into excitement (read: trouble). We were all are sitting around for mealtime and it was his turn to share.
The Prank of the Century
This particular evening my brother told us about a prank that he pulled with his roommate. They lived in a quad-style student housing complex with most of the other student-athletes. So he and his roommate came up with the brilliant idea to place a false advertisement in all of the mail boxes.
The ad explained that each female resident that came into the leasing office and passed gas would receive a $200 discount off of their rent. So many deal seekers came into the leasing office that day, the emergency communication system was used to tell residents that the ad was a hoax.
We laughed for a good ten minutes off of this story. But we would have missed that moment, if we’d let the business of the day steal our family mealtime.
Growing up, our weekday evening routine was always the same: homework, dinner, and sharing a story or a high point of our day. To outsiders, it might have seemed a bit boring. But my best childhood memories all centered around mealtime.
The Importance of Family Mealtime
A 2012 Report by Cornell University says that children that have family meals three times per week are less likely to be overweight, have better academic achievement, and are less likely to be delinquent.
The report went on to explain that family meals provide numerous benefits to children including:
- improved psychological well-being
- increased consumption of healthy foods
- and more positive family interactions
The Problem and Three Ways to Solve It…
The problem is that fewer and fewer families are taking the time out to: sit around their table, share a meal, and make lasting memories, because mealtime has been replaced by TV, a bazillion extracurricular activities, and other forms of media.
The Cornell University Report recommends that families use three strategies for improving mealtime:
- Set a goal to have family meals three times a week. When family meals are shared at least three times per week, most research notes an improvement in child outcomes. If dinner isn’t possible, try breakfast or an evening snack. The goal is an activity that allows your family to gather on a regular basis.
- Remember the benefits of consistent family meals. Family meals can generate feelings of closeness and comfort. Regular mealtimes provide children with stability, even when meals feel disorganized or rushed.
- Quality is just as important as quantity. Researchers note that mealtimes are the time children are the most likely to communicate with their parents. Don’t let distractions steal your time together. Turn off the TV and cellphones, sit around the table, cook something healthy, and make some memories.
BMWK: What’s your best memory of family mealtime?