April 14, 2016

“If you’re like many Australian families, dinner is usually scoffed in front of the telly, in separate rooms or at different times thanks to our ever-hectic schedules. But while work, study and extra curricular schedules can make family meal times seem impossible, it’s worth going to the extra effort; studies have shown that not only do family meal times contribute to family togetherness, cohesion and engagement”. says Better Homes and Gardens.

We couldn’t agree more! Check out five great tips below, put together by Better Homes and Gardens to get everyone around the dinner table.

Book it in the diary
If the family has conflicting schedules, try booking a dinner the way you would any other appointment – and stick to it. It may mean some jiggling around or even some sacrifices, but it’s important to make it a priority. Once your family can stick to this, gradually add more meal times until it becomes a normal activity. Let everyone know 15 minutes before serving so they can wrap up their activity.

Make meal times fun
Make meal times appealing by engaging with them. Ask them how their day was and keep it light. Make meal times an ‘occasion’ by setting the table with napkins, a table cloth, flowers, knives forks or ‘nice’ plates and glasses. Theme nights are also a great way to get the family excited about meal times – try an Italian night with pizza, pasta and a red and white checkered table cloth.

Get everyone involved
Many top chef’s talk fondly about childhood memories of helping mum or grandma cooking in the kitchen. It might be asking them what they want for dinner that night, helping to plan the week’s menu, or getting them to be a ‘little helper’ by fetching or putting away ingredients, or helping to prepare vegetables. Older children can also get involved with cooking – it’s a great skill for them to develop, especially for when they leave the family nest. Not only will getting kids involved get a better understanding of food preparation and nutrition, but there will be ownership over the meal and positive reinforcement when the family enjoys it together.

Put down the iPad and turn off the telly
Making the family table a device-free zone may seem easier said that done if everyone is regularly glued to their iPad, iPhone, tablet or TV. But having technology at the table can detract from precious family time and the chance to talk and interact. Explain to everyone in the family what the expectations are so they are in place. If a blanket ban is a struggle, then you may have to phase it out – for example, if your family usually watches TV, then try muting it, rather than turning it off completely at first.

Don’t forget clean up!
No one likes being left a messy kitchen, and this is also the perfect opportunity to get kids (and even your partner) involved in doing chores. If you have young children, set them smaller, individual tasks such as putting away dishes or place mats and wiping down the table. Cleaning the kitchen doesn’t take long when there are a few of you to pitch in, so make this part of the family meal time tradition. Making dessert or their favourite tv program a reward for a job well done can also be a great motivator.

Live outside the box at Watagan Park

Back to blog