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Posts Tagged ‘Family time’

17 Genius Shortcuts to Help You Save Time While Cooking

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Real Simple readers reveal how they make mealtime less of a chore each day.

I live by the words “It’s never too early to start prepping dinner.” Whenever I have a few minutes during the day or on the weekend, I do something for dinner ahead of time, whether it’s chopping an onion, throwing together a quick salad, or making pasta or quinoa. —Emily Smith, Greenville, South Carolina

I use what I have in the kitchen and create meals that are loosely based on a recipe, or no recipe at all. —?@paulajsheldon

Make sure the tools, pots, and food items you use the most are the most accessible items on every surface and in every cabinet and drawer. While you’re at it, put everything you haven’t used in a year up high. —?Liora Seltzer, New York City

Keep your staple ingredients on hand at all times. Fresh herbs, good olive oil, lemon, Parmesan, capers—if the pantry is stocked with versatile and quality ingredients, you are guaranteed a good meal every night of the week. —Tig Filson, Cumberland, Maine

While I’m cooking, I keep a “garbage bowl” on the counter (for veggie scraps, wrappers, egg shells, etc.) to cut down on trips to the trash can. I put everything in something that’s already dirty, like an empty spinach container or gently used Tupperware, so I’m not adding to the dirty-dish pile. —Ariana Lake, Stephentown, New York

Rotisserie chicken. I take it home and repackage it: It’s ready when I need to make quiche, chicken soup, chicken salad, you name it. It saves so much time and is easy and economical! —?Amy Tooley Radachi, Dayton, Ohio

I have my two teenagers each cook one night a week. They have to include a vegetable, and dinner can’t be takeout. During the school year, it’s typically some variation of pasta or tacos. But it doesn’t matter—I get to come home to a fully cooked meal. —Janet Kinard, Atlanta

Meal delivery services. It’s the new date night! —Katherine Mooney, Sedona, Arizona

I always fill the sink with hot soapy water for cleaning as I go. I can wash and reuse utensils, and when I’m done, the kitchen doesn’t have to be cleaned. —Helen Bouslaugh, Woodland, California

While prepping meals, we chop extra onions, garlic, or tomatoes and store them in small, lidded containers. For the next few days, we can use them for omelets and garnishes without having to prep again. —Tina Hom Chen, Redding, Connecticut

I married a man who loves to cook. —Megan Waite, Fredericksburg, Virginia

I use two Instant Pots: one for the main or meat dish and the other for the side or dessert. They cook quickly, and clean- up is a snap. —Chris Stephens, Luttrell, Tennessee

I’ve accepted that I’m in a season of life when I need to spend a little bit more money to buy the prechopped produce. My prep work is minimal, and I can spend time with my son and husband instead! —Kristin Jones, Turner, Montana

I’ve learned to turn leftovers into something completely different. Meatloaf becomes taco meat; chili becomes tamale pie. The trick is to add fresh elements and stay within the same flavor family. —?Mary Pielenz Hampton, Bozeman, Montana

Whoever gets off work first has to cook dinner. The kids clean up afterward. This works well for our family because my husband and I work various shifts throughout the week. —Brandy Biswell, Puyallup, Washington

I do the shopping and the prep, and my spouse executes the meal! —Caitlin Zinsser, Oak Park, Illinois

I order groceries online and pick them up at my local store. —Nancy Harris, Mansfield, Texas

 

This article was written by Real Simple Staff from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The (Proven) Best Activity You Should Be Doing with Your Kids

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Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

There have been numerous research studies demonstrating that one of the most beneficial activities you can do with your children is consistently eating dinner together. The benefits of eating dinner together as a family are wide-ranging and important.

Eating dinner together helps improve the vocabulary of young children because the children are exposed to a wider and more difficult set of words than in their usual environments. To be fair, the study included all family meals together, not just dinner. It also showed that frequent meals together boosted vocabulary even more than being read to aloud. Young children were exposed to more than 1,000 rare words at meal time, compared to only 143 from parents reading books out loud. As an added benefit, kids with larger vocabularies start reading at an earlier age and with less difficulty than other children. Mealtime talk, especially during dinner:

“often incorporates discussions and explanations of current events, world knowledge, and even abstract general principles…mealtime talk constitutes an opportunity for the problems of everyday life and proposed solutions to be discussed, often in the context of stories.”

Older children also benefit intellectually and emotionally from family dinners. Enjoying regular family dinners is a powerful predictor of high test scores – it’s a better predictor than time spent in school, doing homework, or time playing sports.

Most importantly, it’s also hugely beneficial to the emotional state of adolescents and teenagers. There are a number of studies demonstrating regular family dinners reduce a number of high risk teen behaviors. In one study, entitled Family Dinner Meal Frequency and Adolescent Development: Relationships with Developmental Assets and High-Risk Behaviors, there is a significant reduction in high risk behaviors – alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, sexual intercourse, depression-suicide, antisocial behavior, violence, school problems, binge/purge eating, and excessive weight-loss – all from consistent family dinners. Another study demonstrated a lower rate of depression and suicidal thoughts is associated with regular family dinners.

Aside from the prevention or reduction of negative behaviors, there is a strong association between regular family dinners and good behaviors, such as a strong association with good moods in teenagers, an optimistic outlook of the future.

Now that we know how important family mealtimes are for children, what’s the best way to institute this in a household with working mothers or a household where both parents work? The key is to cut down on time spent preparing the meal and cleaning up after the meal is over, in order to maximize the time and quality of the meal.

One of the best ways to save time preparing the meal and cleaning up, and maximizing the time spent actually enjoying dinner with your family, is to look at the large catering platters and party platters from grocery stores. For example, Walmart party tray prices are extremely reasonably priced when looked at on a per-meal basis. A typical party tray will feed my family for 2-3 dinners, and has a wide variety of items so no one gets bored. The cost per person per meal can be as low as $1-2.

The best part is that there is almost no cleanup and no preparation time. This helps create a stress free environment where I can focus on listening to my children and learning about their lives, while sharing stories at dinnertime. On days where I do cook dinner, I usually end up being stuck in the kitchen and missing out on most of the conversation, and at the same time, it takes much longer for me to prepare the food and then cleanup afterwards.

For health conscious mothers, Costco offers similar party platters and has recently become the world’s largest seller of organic foods, prime meats and other high quality food products. I’ve spoken to Costco staff and it’s clear to me that they use the same high quality ingredients in their platters as they sell on their shelves.

Eating family dinners together as frequently as possible is clearly one of the best activities you can do with your children. As a working mother, it’s critical to prioritize and maximize high quality activities with the family. In the case of dinner time, the most important activity isn’t food prep or cleaning, it’s actually sitting down with your children during the meal, chatting with them and listening to them. One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to do this is to shop in the catering isles at large grocers.

 

This article was written by Natalie Bracco from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

7 Signs You’re Suffering from Working Mommy Burnout—and What to Do About It

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Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

Chronic stress can lead to burnout, both in the workplace and in our homes. Here’s how to fight back.

In my psychology practice, I meet weekly with moms who work both inside and outside of the home. While their feelings are often the same—questioning their purpose in life, not sure if they should continue to do what they are doing and a constant feeling of exhaustion, the specific triggers for their burnout can differ based on their working situations.

The reality is most moms believe the other side of the “work” fence is better. If they are a stay-at-home mom they think they would feel better and less stifled if they were outside the home every day. Mothers who go to an office or a similar workspace might be overwhelmed and wonder if they should find a way to be home. When stressed, bored or frustrated, moms in either situation instantly begin looking for reasons to change their work status.

Whether you work at home or out, or even if you don’t work at all, it is a decision that is based on your particular family’s needs and values. But if you do work outside of the home, this can create a unique set of stressors that can add to your negative feelings. Chief among these stressors is guilt, and there is no guilt like mommy guilt. You feel guilty for leaving your kids in the morning, working late nights, not cooking homemade dinners more often, being on your computer even after a long day’s work, missing soccer games or play practice—the list goes on and on.

Many working moms have had their children ask them questions such as, “Are you ever going to stop working?” The feeling of being torn between two worlds, never having enough time and feeling as if we are not fully successful in either endeavor wears on us. But still we march on, trying to be in two places at once, trying to advance our careers while pretending our minds aren’t distracted by concerns for our kids and ignoring our own personal and health needs.

You may be thinking all these feelings are just part and parcel of being a mother. No one ever said it was going to be easy, right? With a little wine and some humor, you’ll be okay, right? And while stress is a part of all our daily lives, chronic stress wreaks havoc on our minds, bodies and our perception of being smart and competent mothers. Chronic stress can lead to burnout—both in the workplace and in our homes.

Read on to see if you may be suffering from working mommy burnout:

1. You constantly question why you do what you do, and no longer take joy in work you once loved.

2. You think what you do (paid work or staying home your kids) may not be worth the stress it causes or the money you earn.

3. You still wonder who you will be when you “grow up” because, even at this age, you don’t feel like you are able to achieve what you want in life—whether it is financial success, recognition, or enjoyment.

4. You feel time is running out to achieve your dreams, and you don’t know the next steps to take to accomplish them, in your profession or your personal life.

5. You feel like you should be working if you are at home with your kids and vice versa.

6. You wonder about the purpose of life in general and constantly question if doing something different will bring you closer to clarity.

7. You secretly have something you want to do in life—start a business, write a novel, go back for your graduate degree, run a marathon—but it feels too big to even attempt.

If two or more of the above symptoms sound familiar, you may be experiencing what I refer to as the working mom’s dilemma, which can lead directly to mommy burnout. The great thing is moms don’t have to accept these feelings as their normal. There are some easy-to-implement changes that can be done to cope with working mom stress.

Learn to ask for and receive help. You don’t have to do everything on your own to be a good mom, or a good employee!

Be protective and intentional about your time. Say yes to the most important things at home and work and no to the things you don’t have to or want to do.

Teach your kids independence while they are toddlers. These important life skills like clearing a plate, getting dressed or brushing teeth on their own will make a working mother’s life much better in the long run. If your child is already older, it is never too late to drill the independence lesson. Start today.

Set one achievable goal a day. Do your best to accomplish that goal, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get to it. It’s a goal, not a life or death situation!

Being a working mom can be a challenge whether you love your job or have to work to make ends meet. It is also an opportunity to be a wonderful role model for our children and to do their best to achieve their dreams. Finding and making peace with our purpose as a working mom is essential to being able to enjoy life every day. It helps us to be present, to gain focus on what is most important and to integrate the challenges we all experience as part of our journey.


Dr. Sheryl Ziegler, MD, is a doctor of psychology and licensed professional counselor. She is the author of Mommy Burnout: How to Reclaim Your Life and Raise Healthier Children in the Process

 

This article was written by Dr. Sheryl Ziegler from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How to Get Everyone to the Table for a Family Meal

 

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Real-world ideas for making dinner together happen—even when everyone has a different schedule.

Find Another Time

Don’t focus on the meal; focus on the time to come together. It can be breakfast, after-school snacks, dinner—find what works for your family. I did 10 p.m. snacks when my girls were in high school because that was when they’d be getting home from sports or work or hanging out with friends. We had 15 to 30 minutes to just catch up on the day and the dramas that make up teenage life.
—Rhonda Mccreary-Utledge, Fort Worth, Texas

Serve a Big Batch

Make the healthiest casserole you know. Arrange whole fresh fruit on the table and call it a day. (My secret chili contains a big bunch of pureed kale, and no one has yet to discover it!)
—Pat Satterfield, Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania

Aim for Healthy

I have two kids in two different schools and on multiple sports teams, so there are days when we’re not all home to eat together. I’ve learned to make soup and/or salad with leftover chicken on those nights. That way we get veggies and protein, and we aren’t spending too much money or compromising nutrition by eating fast food.
Heather Sustman Golden, Houston

Make It a Must

Family dinner is a priority in our house. Even if it’s for cereal or sandwiches, we sit together. We eat when everyone is home—6 p.m. some nights, 9 p.m. other nights.
Jenn Mcavoy Fahy, Lagrange, New York

Tacos Always Win

I make a batch of taco meat and all the fixings and have tortillas ready to be warmed up when people are ready to eat.
Kristin Lupo, Stratford, Connecticut

Don’t Overthink It

Order. Pizza. Done.
Rachel Ross Faris, Erlanger, Kentucky

 

This article was written by Real Simple Staff from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Save Time and Keep Your Family Healthy with These Quick Tips

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Most moms are aware of the need to keep their children healthy to ensure proper growth and development. However, when the demands of the day limit your time, sometimes being healthy isn’t as convenient. When you’re at work all day, it can be easy to develop poor habits just to ease the stress. Things like preparing healthy meals, making sure the kids stay active, and even keeping up with doctor’s appointments do require a bit of time and effort, but are important. If time prevents you from being able to keep your family healthy, consider these time-saving tips below.

Pick One Day of the Week for Meal Prep

Any mom would agree that when you’re pressed for time, one of the most time-consuming tasks is preparing meals for the family. Bogged down by demands from work, household chores, and perhaps running the kids around to their after-school activities, it’s much easier to order takeout or grab a kids meal from a fast food restaurant and keep moving.

Though a treat every now and again won’t do the kids any harm, often time the quickest meal solutions are the unhealthiest for them. To cut back on time and the number of processed foods and saturated fats your family is consuming, why not pick one day to prep meals? Choose a day where you have the most time and cook all your meals. You can then place them in plastic containers and freeze them for the week.

Schedule Appointments Together

Visiting the doctor periodically – especially during school-age is imperative for children. Annual physicals, vaccines, and shots, as well as other medical services, allow doctors to provide you with the best child development & nutrition resources to ensure your child is developing properly. Doctors can also recommend adjustments in nutrition, supplements, and ways to help your child grow in confidence, like giving your child Healthy Height’s nutritional shakes that promote growth in height. Be that as it may, most working mothers are plagued with minimal time off from work. Not to mention, a scheduled doctor’s appointment tends to last longer than anticipated, which can cause conflict.

If you work in an environment where time isn’t flexible, try to kill a few birds with one stone. Take off one day instead of trying to break it up into hours. Schedule the entire family’s appointments for the same day. While it will mean sitting in waiting rooms all day, it eliminates the need to take off several hours every few months.

Work Out Together

It can be tempting to let the kids sit in front of the television or on the computer all day while you tend to the household chores (or take a break), however, too much screen time is detrimental to your child’s health. It is important for all of you to get active to remain healthy. If time prevents you from being able to get the kids out, consider working out together. This doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym together or sit in front of the television doing exercise video moves either. There are a lot of fun activities you could try indoors or outdoors to get active. Whether you go outside and play basketball or stay in the house and rock out to your favorite dance simulation game, you’re moving, sweating, and working out. Not to mention, you’re creating fun memories with your family.

Unfortunately, time isn’t something we can make more of. All you can do is learn how to make the most of the time you have. If you’ve been trying to prioritize your family’s health, but find time to always get in the way, utilize the above-mentioned tips. They are all convenient solutions that not only save you time but allow you to ensure your family is as healthy as they can be.

 

This article was written by Natalie Bracco from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

4 Ways to Raise Siblings Who Love Each Other

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Siblings who fight a lot gain surprising advantages, from thicker skins to sharper negotiating skills. Plus, “Savvy parents know that a conflict-free relationship between siblings is not the same as a close-knit relationship,” writes Chicago Tribune parenting columnist Heidi Stevens. The goal is to have kids who love as hard as they battle. Here, four tips for raising lifelong best friends who share everything—including you.

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Fight smart in front of them

When parents handle conflict and anger with each other in a healthy, respectful way, they are modeling how their kids should face off. If you slam doors, hurl insults or, um, actual household items, it’s a safe bet they’ll mimic you the next time someone pushes their buttons. Added incentive to hit above the (emotional) belt? Kids cannot keep secrets. Ask anyone who’s died a little inside while her kid told the dentist how Mommy threw her egg sandwich at Daddy.

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When in doubt, let them work it out

Unless your kids’ fights are about to enter the realm of bloodshed or bullying, or they’re stuck in a pattern where an older child seems to always dominate a younger one, give them a minute before you get involved. Per experts, siblings’ fights are valuable opportunities for growth. Hair-trigger intervention only perpetuates their reliance on you as a referee. Also, stepping in may mean taking sides—a surefire way to stir up sibling rivalry. “It can be more difficult to hang back and observe emotional situations than to try to solve problems for your kids on the spot,” writes parenting expert Michelle Woo, citing research on how kids in Germany and Japan become self-reliant by problem-solving amongst themselves. “[What kids] need is consistent guidance, a place to explore their feelings, a model of kindness. What they probably don’t need is a referee monitoring every single play.” As Jeffrey Kluger, author of The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us, told NPR: “One of the most profound effects siblings have on you is that area of conflict resolution skills, that area of relationship formation and maintenance.” 

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Or don’t! Try this instead

A growing number of psychologists and educators swears by a conflict resolution method called Restorative Circles. You step in at the start of a fight and ask your kids to take a deep breath and sit down with you calmly in a circle. (Obviously, for screaming banshee fights, separation and soothing come first.) For just a few minutes, each child gets a chance to speak their grievance (You ask: “What do you want your brother to know?”), and the other child(ren) is asked to interpret what they’ve just heard (“What did you hear your sister saying?”). Then you go back to the first child (“Is that what you meant?”) until a mutual understanding is reached/all kids feel heard. Then everyone brainstorms ideas to find an agreeable solution.

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The family that plays together, stays together

Even—especially—if your kids are like oil and water, or more than a few years apart, it can be tempting to let them lead separate lives. Try not to. Choose toys that appeal to all age groups (Marry us, Bristle Blocks!), group activities on weekends or family vacations, and require them to show up for each other’s games or recitals. No matter how much they fight, research shows reason to be optimistic. “About 10, 15 percent of sibling relationships truly are so toxic that they’re irreparable,” says Kluger. “But 85 percent are anywhere from fixable to terrific.” After all, he notes: “Our parents leave us too soon, our spouses and our kids come along too late…Siblings are the longest relationships we’ll ever have in our lives.”

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Backyard Camping Trip

Plan a family camping trip to your backyard.

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Enjoy the wonderful feeling of family bonding while only being feet away from your own home. A backyard camping trip can be a unique idea, and it’s great for family togetherness. Your children won’t be afraid while having the security of being so close to their safe place: their home. You can enjoy all that is involved with camping while still being able to use your own bathroom. What a great camping experience! To ensure this feels like a legitimate camping trip, remember all the necessary equipment, such as a flashlight, non-perishable food, water and a tent.

You can include the following activities:

  • Create a small campfire and roast hotdogs and marshmallows;
  • Sing campfire songs;
  • Play catch, hula-hoop or jump-rope;
  • Have a nature scavenger hunt;
  • Hold a yoga session during sunset for a soothing end to the day;
  • Catch fireflies (depending on the season); Stargaze and teach your child about the constellations.

Take Time Out of Your Work Schedule: Enjoy Some Fun with the Kids

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For working moms, finding time to put aside and have fun with the kids can be a real challenge. However, if you don’t make an effort to do this, you could end up missing out on a large part of their childhood. It is easy to get caught up in work, particularly if you are the main income earner in your home. However, you also have to remember the importance of being a mom and taking time out to spend with your little ones otherwise you could find that by the time you stop to take a breath they have already grown up.

Making sure you plan ahead for some days out with the kids will help to keep you on track when it comes to creating a healthy work life balance. Many moms who work full time get so caught up in their work that they sometimes forget that they need to take a breather and give their undivided attention to the kids. Planning ahead and arranging days out in advance can help to avoid the chances of you missing out due to being busy with work.

What can you do with the kids?

As long as you put some time aside and put your work well and truly on the back burner, you can do whatever interests you and your family. If you have a vehicle, you can go anywhere you want for your days out. You can add some practicality by investing in rooftop cargo carriers – how to pick the best cargo carrier in 2018 will be based on how many people you have in your household and the type of items you will need to take.

Even if you do not have a vehicle available, you can easily turn to public transport for your days out. If you want to get around even more easily and boost the health of your kids, it is worth looking at getting on your bikes for the odd day out. This is a great way to enjoy nature, get some exercise, and get to spend some time together. Depending on where you live, there may be some great cycling trails or walking trails where you and the kids can go when the weather permits. This is not only a great way to spend some quality time with your children but also get them out of the house and away from their computers and smart devices for a while.

The great thing is that spending quality time with the kids doesn’t have to be expensive, as there are so many great things you can do free of charge. For example, you could pack up a delicious picnic and head to the local beach or park when the sun is out. If it is raining, you can still enjoy spending time with your kids. There are all sorts of entertainment options to enjoy indoors from classic board games through to family movies. With apps that make movies a subscription type of cost this can be a great option, especially in the summer.

 

This article was written by Emily Green from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The (Proven) Best Activity You Should Be Doing with Your Kids

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There have been numerous research studies demonstrating that one of the most beneficial activities you can do with your children is consistently eating dinner together. The benefits of eating dinner together as a family are wide-ranging and important.

Eating dinner together helps improve the vocabulary of young children because the children are exposed to a wider and more difficult set of words than in their usual environments. To be fair, the study included all family meals together, not just dinner. It also showed that frequent meals together boosted vocabulary even more than being read to aloud. Young children were exposed to more than 1,000 rare words at meal time, compared to only 143 from parents reading books out loud. As an added benefit, kids with larger vocabularies start reading at an earlier age and with less difficulty than other children. Mealtime talk, especially during dinner:

“often incorporates discussions and explanations of current events, world knowledge, and even abstract general principles…mealtime talk constitutes an opportunity for the problems of everyday life and proposed solutions to be discussed, often in the context of stories.”

Older children also benefit intellectually and emotionally from family dinners. Enjoying regular family dinners is a powerful predictor of high test scores – it’s a better predictor than time spent in school, doing homework, or time playing sports.

Most importantly, it’s also hugely beneficial to the emotional state of adolescents and teenagers. There are a number of studies demonstrating regular family dinners reduce a number of high risk teen behaviors. In one study, entitled Family Dinner Meal Frequency and Adolescent Development: Relationships with Developmental Assets and High-Risk Behaviors, there is a significant reduction in high risk behaviors – alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, sexual intercourse, depression-suicide, antisocial behavior, violence, school problems, binge/purge eating, and excessive weight-loss – all from consistent family dinners. Another study demonstrated a lower rate of depression and suicidal thoughts is associated with regular family dinners.

Aside from the prevention or reduction of negative behaviors, there is a strong association between regular family dinners and good behaviors, such as a strong association with good moods in teenagers, an optimistic outlook of the future.

Now that we know how important family mealtimes are for children, what’s the best way to institute this in a household with working mothers or a household where both parents work? The key is to cut down on time spent preparing the meal and cleaning up after the meal is over, in order to maximize the time and quality of the meal.

One of the best ways to save time preparing the meal and cleaning up, and maximizing the time spent actually enjoying dinner with your family, is to look at the large catering platters and party platters from grocery stores. For example, Walmart party tray prices are extremely reasonably priced when looked at on a per-meal basis. A typical party tray will feed my family for 2-3 dinners, and has a wide variety of items so no one gets bored. The cost per person per meal can be as low as $1-2.

The best part is that there is almost no cleanup and no preparation time. This helps create a stress free environment where I can focus on listening to my children and learning about their lives, while sharing stories at dinnertime. On days where I do cook dinner, I usually end up being stuck in the kitchen and missing out on most of the conversation, and at the same time, it takes much longer for me to prepare the food and then cleanup afterwards.

For health conscious mothers, Costco offers similar party platters and has recently become the world’s largest seller of organic foods, prime meats and other high quality food products. I’ve spoken to Costco staff and it’s clear to me that they use the same high quality ingredients in their platters as they sell on their shelves.

Eating family dinners together as frequently as possible is clearly one of the best activities you can do with your children. As a working mother, it’s critical to prioritize and maximize high quality activities with the family. In the case of dinner time, the most important activity isn’t food prep or cleaning, it’s actually sitting down with your children during the meal, chatting with them and listening to them. One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to do this is to shop in the catering isles at large grocers.

 

This article was written by Natalie Bracco from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

4 Science-Backed Benefits of Eating Dinner as a Family

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Whether you’re munching on organic grain bowls or ketchup-drenched, defrosted, dinosaur-shaped nuggets, sharing a screen-free family dinner nourishes kids in life-changing ways. And wash away your guilt, working parents: If you can’t get home for mac and cheese at 5:30 p.m., don’t sweat it. Aiming to eat together at least three times a week—including breakfast and weekend brunch—is a worthy goal. When it comes to raising healthy kids, body and soul, prioritizing frequent family meals counts most.

It lowers the risk of substance abuse 
Family dinners not only lower the risk of depression in kids, they also guard against the impulse to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. That’s because key communication takes place at these end-of-day parent-child debriefs. According to Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, “Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners (5 to 7 per week), those who have infrequent family dinners (fewer than 3 per week) are more than twice as likely to say that they expect to try drugs in the future.” Teens who seldom eat with their parents are almost twice as likely to have used alcohol, and 1.5 times likelier to have used marijuana. “The magic that happens over family dinners isn’t the food on the table, but the communication and conversations around it,” explains the center’s marketing director Kathleen Ferrigno. “Of course there is no iron-clad guarantee that your kids will grow up drug-free, but knowledge is power, and the more you know, the better the odds are that you will raise a healthy kid.”

It leads to better academic performance
Writes Harvard Medical School psychology professor and author of Home for Dinner Anne Fishel: “Researchers found that for young children, dinnertime conversation boosts vocabulary even more than being read aloud to…Young kids learned 1,000 rare words at the dinner table, compared to only 143 from parents reading storybooks aloud. Kids who have a large vocabulary read earlier and more easily.” And as kids grow up, the intellectual benefits explode. “For school-age youngsters, regular mealtime is an even more powerful predictor of high achievement scores than time spent in school, doing homework, playing sports or doing art.”

It decreases obesity and eating disorders
Family dinners provide opportunities for parents to model—and regulate for their kids—healthy eating habits. According to a study led by eating disorder expert Dr. Jess Haines, “Compared to those who ate family dinner ‘never or some days,’ female adolescents who ate family dinner at least most days were less likely to initiate purging, binge eating, and frequent dieting.” An unrelated study conducted by University of Minnesota Family Social Science professor Dr. William J. Doherty found Americans (parents and kids) are significantly less overweight if they share family meals more frequently, and have fewer distractions at the table (like tech). Kids who eat dinner with their families often also eat healthier (more fruits and vegetables; less soda and fried foods), according to a study by Harvard Medical School’s Obesity Prevention Program. Family meals allow for both “discussions of nutrition [and] provision of healthful foods,” that study’s director, Dr. Matthew W. Gillman, told CNN.

It increases self-esteem and resilience
According to psychology researchers at Emory University, children who have frequent family dinners “know more about their family history and tend to have higher self-esteem, interact better with their peers and show higher resilience in the face of adversity.” When families who are close don’t sugarcoat life’s hardships (like the death of a relative or pet) their children exhibit “higher self-esteem and sense of control.” The communal table is where the stories of who we are, and who we come from, get passed down. According to Marshall Duke, a co-director of the study, which analyzed 120 hours of recorded family dinner conversations, “As the family talks about things, I think they are teaching the kids about assessment, about appraisal. How bad is this? How good is this? Resilience is nurtured when the child understands that negative events don’t define the family history.” 

 

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