By Melissa Good
What has happened to the family dinner hour? There once was a time when we would all come home from school or work and sit down with our family for a home-cooked meal. It was the one meal of the day that offered all the major food groups along with a dessert (if you were lucky or it was Sunday!)
We did not realize it then, but our families were bonding at dinner time in a way that isn't possible during the course of an average day. We need to get back to the way it used to be. Gather your families, turn off the TV, turn off the cell phones and any other distractions that will take you away from enjoying your family.
Today, less than half of American families eat dinner together, and when they do the meals last less than 20 minutes. Our lifestyles have changed from those less-complicated days. Thanks to the internet, cell phones, and palm pilots, business is conducted on an almost 24/7 basis. Outside activities for children have become almost unbearable in the demands made upon the family. It has become a race against time to fit it all in. Something has to give, and all too often it is the family dinner.
When we squeeze out the family dinner we sacrifice more than you could ever imagine. According to a study conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, the children that dined regularly with their families were 31 per cent less likely to smoke, drink or take drugs. Gathering around the dinner table with family members provides a comfort zone in this crazy world we live in.
HOW CAN WE BRING BACK THE FAMILY DINNER HOUR?
The best way to bring back the family dinner is to make it a part of your daily routine. Make dinner time the same time every evening and stick to it if possible. Tell every family member that dinner will be served at a specified time and all must be present.
Next, plan for each of the dinners in advance. Most of us don't realize how much time we waste looking for the right recipe, then running to the store several times a week to buy the necessary items. However, if you have a meal plan in place each week that includes a complete week of dinners, all the recipes, and a grocery shopping list, you will save a tremendous amount of time; time that is better spent with your family.
Post your menu on the refrigerator so family members will know what dinner will be. When they see that you have planned a family dinner, they will not only plan to be there, but also look forward to this wonderful tradition.
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