With busy work schedules, after-school activities, and the many distractions that get in the way, it can be a daunting task to coordinator family time and dinnertime. Research conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University shows that the more time spent at the table together, the more likely your child will do better in school, and be less prone to anxiety and depression.
To help parents, Informed Families has created a video game contest called “Family Dinner Dash” to learn how to overcome these obstacles. Children and parents can register at www.FLfamilyday.com to play the retro-style challenge and compete for prizes. The grand-prize winner will win a $250 Publix gift card and six regional winners throughout the state will win a $100 Publix gift card. The entry deadline is September 24th and winners will be announced on October 1st.
Informed families has also provided a list of tips you can implement now to make the most of dinnertime:
- The dinner table should be an electronics-free zone—and this rule doesn’t just apply to the kids. Take a break from the outside world and focus on family.
- Become a team—turn dinnertime into an event for the whole family. Let the kids help with the cooking, and show them how much you appreciate their participation. Assign a table-setter, and let him/her choose the place settings. Plan for next week’s dinner menu together, with each member of the family having input.
- Make conversation the main course. Use open-ended questions like “what was the funniest thing you saw today?” or “what was the best thing that happened to you today?” to get everyone talking and sharing.
- Keep dinnertime positive. Avoid discussions about discipline, arguments, or broken rules. Make the dinner table a peaceful place for the whole family.
- Always sit together—whether it’s at the table, out on the patio, or on a picnic blanket (even in its in your living room), make sure the family comes together for this time.
- Make a “You Are Special Today” place setting and celebrate each other’s accomplishments, whatever they may be.
- Have fun! Change things around and serve breakfast for dinner, with everyone in the family wearing their pajamas.
- And remember, it’s the time together that counts—don’t stress over making an elaborate meal.