COVID Connections – Family Meals Matter

Evenings were business-as-usual a few weeks ago: the extracurricular activities, sports, homework, and housework after a long day’s work.

This information brought to you by the Tuscarawas County Anti Drug Coalition.

In the midst of the hustle and bustle, families opt for meals on-the-go, forgoing the traditional family dinner. According to the American College of Pediatrics, family dinners have decreased by 30% over the past three decades, but their benefits are significant and extraordinary. While at home during the Coronavirus pandemic, families can more easily gather around the table to share a meal, have a conversation, and strengthen family bonds.

Family dinners are always beneficial, but especially in times of stress. First, they provide structure and routine to the day, giving children what to expect. They also invite open-ended conversations, allowing for easy monitoring of children’s moods, behaviors, and emotional well-being. A child’s world is usually spent with peers at school, on technology, or in the neighborhood. Family dinners show children how adults interact, respect one another, and solve problems face-to-face. According to the American College of Pediatrics, children who participate in frequent family dinners experience a variety of benefits, including:

  • Better grades in school
  • More enhanced language development
  • More healthful dietary patterns
  • Less emotional stress
  • Decreased high-risk behaviors, such as alcohol, tobacco, and drug use

Also, consider what happens before and after the meal. Try dividing up responsibilities–from setting the table and filling drinks to cooking and cleanup, there are tasks for every member of the family, and everyone must pitch in. Such family dinner “guidelines” create engagement for children. Others may include a “no phones” rule or requiring everyone to participate, in some way, to family discussion.

So, you have your family seated around the table. This is a great opportunity to open the lines of communication. You can address more serious topics, like how your kids are coping with separation from friends at school, or keep the mood light. As you know, the activities in this column always end with a conversation starter. Here are some more to get your kids talking:

  • What are three things you really like about yourself?
  • If you could choose to do anything for one day, what would it be?
  • What is your favorite childhood memory?

The conversation and fun doesn’t have to stop there. Continue the night with a game, craft, outdoor walk, or family movie. Such activities, like family dinners, strengthen you as a family and provide children with the protective factors to grow into happy, successful adults.

 

 

GAME:

Scavenger Hunt

Choose a sequence of random objects and hide them around your house. Write clues leading to each object with a fun prize as the end. Take turns hiding and finding the objects, using the clues.

RECIPE:

3-Ingredient Pancakes

Ingredients:

1 Large Banana

2 Eggs

⅛ teaspoon Baking Powder

Directions:

  1. Mash banana in a bowl using a fork
  2. Add eggs, baking powder, and cinnamon. Mix well.
  3. Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat.
  4. Spoon batter into the hot butter and cook until bubbles form, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Flip and cook until golden brown. Enjoy!

*To find recipes using ingredients you have at home, visit Fridgetotable.com

CRAFT:

DIY Sugar Scrub

Ingredients:

1 Cup Granulated Sugar

½ Cup Oil (Olive or Coconut)

Essential Oils (optional)

1 Small Lidded Container

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix all ingredients.
  2. Set the tablespoon as needed in the shower.
  3. Store in an airtight container with a lid

 

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY:

Limbo

How low can you go? Use a broom or other object to set up a Limbo game in your home. With each turn, bend backwards under the broom without touching the broom or using your hands. Lower the broom in between each turn. The player to bend the lowest wins!

 

CONVERSATION STARTER: “What would you do for a day without your phone, tablet, computer, or any technology?”

 

Sources:

http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Other-Resources/News/Know-Frequent-Family-Dinners-Make-a-Big-Differenc

https://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/parenting-issues/the-benefits-of-the-family-table

 

 

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