We already know that many women experience feelings of guilt when they work outside of the home. Many times, those feels are related to what they are missing out on as a mother. Because of this, it is important to find ways to spend quality time with their children to keep things balanced. Family dinners are a great way to do that!
There are a lot of studies out there to support the idea that family dinners have lasting effects on your children. Not only does it improve children’s eating habits, but it also reduces the chances for kids to be involved with drugs and alcohol, school grades are better and it keeps the family connected. In fact, a study done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University found that a majority of teens who ate three or fewer meals a week with their families wished they did so more often.
In my home, one of the most important times is dinner time. We make dinner a priority in everyone’s schedule. Even though I am a single mother (which means I have no spouse to help with the meals), dinner time together happens every night. Not only do I encourage the kids to help prepare the meals, but many times, we have a theme for our meal time. This was VERY helpful right after we made the move from a small town to a big city.
My children and I came from a very German, Catholic area. We moved to Cincinnati a month before Christmas several years ago. Not long after moving here, I got a call from the school informing me that my youngest daughter (just in first grade then) had upset a child because she exclaimed “you don’t celebrate Jesus’s birthday?!” Immediately, it dawned on me that I had never thought to have a conversation with my children about the Jewish religion. So for the next week, each child was to bring some information with them to dinner each night that they learned or knew about the Jewish religion.
We spent the next week learning and having great conversations over dinner that helped them understand a different way of life. This extended into focusing on different cultures on different weeks, which included preparing meals to go along with the week’s topic (ie. Mexican food when talking about that culture).
I realize that preparing for a dinner every night is more difficult than it sounds, but there really are a lot of quick meals to prepare at home that are actually better for the family than ordering pizza or going through a fast food drive-thru. The crock pot can actually be your friend here! The Power of Family Meals website has recipe ideas to help get you started as well.
Here’s an easy dinner to get you started:
Tortellini ala Fini
(I created this on my own after it was discontinued at my favorite Italian restaurant)
- 1 large or two small packages of Buitoni tortellini (I like to use whole wheat and spinach tortellini mixed together)
- 1 small bag of frozen peas
- 1 package of prosciutto (tear into pieces)
- 1 jar of Newman’s Own Alfredo Pasta Sauce
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place tortellini, frozen peas and prosciutto in the boiling water and cook for 10 minutes. Drain all in a strainer and then return to the large pot. Mix alfredo sauce in with everything and serve.
** I like to throw some garlic bread sticks in the oven at the same time and add a side of salad made using store bought spring mix greens. (Most of the time we don’t even put the greens in a bowl to serve it!)
Wah-lah! Nice, fancy meal that you can prepare in about 15 minutes with very little work! That leaves plenty of time to laugh with your children and catch up on their day. Sure – there will be days where there is little conversation or the kids are picking on each other, but the great conversations and the message to the kids you care is worth more than you can put a dollar value on!
Do you make family dinner time a must? What easy meals do you prepare when you are running short on time? What benefits have you seen from dinner time meals?