In this blog, we often write about unique holidays or commemorative months. Some can be frivolous and fun, some educational and others philanthropic in nature. October is home to one I think is really special, and one we can all benefit from – National Eat Better, Eat Together Month.
We all know the drill – if you have kids, changing gears from the relative leisure of summertime to a packed fall schedule can be overwhelming. Sports, scouting, music lessons and homework all clamor for attention and time. It’s easy to feel like we’re on an out-of-control carnival ride, zooming past home and family time on the way to the next activity, and grabbing snacks on the run.
But this month we’re reminded of the pleasure and value of dining as a family.
Mealtimes provide an ideal setting to talk as a family. Compared to piping up from the backseat of the car while Dad or Mom are rightly concerned with navigating busy streets, conversation around the dinner table offers a focused and unhurried way for kids to talk about their days: what is going well, what presents a challenge, and what they are looking forward to. Not only will you and your children communicate more openly, but eating together as a family also encourages healthier eating habits.
Even if you don’t have kids, if you live with a partner, it’s still easy to lose sight of your connection if you’re on the go. With conflicting work schedules and days full of outside obligations, a couple can easily find themselves wondering when was the last time they really shared some quiet time. Preparing a meal together and sitting down to eat in each other’s company can go a long way to recharging a relationship.
This month we’re reminded of the pleasure and value of dining as a family. We can also remember that, while there are lots of worthwhile and enjoyable activities to occupy our time, there is also a benefit to downtime. Our minds need unstructured time to wander and imagine freely – if every moment is spent racing from one scheduled event to another, our minds are stifled from creative thought and drained of energy with little to show for it. Consider limiting your kids’ extra curriculars to one or two favorites, and practice saying “no” instead of “yes” when asked to participate in one more additional organization, if you find your calendar jammed with appointments. This will not only free up time for family meals, but provide your mind with the leisure time crucial to re-energize and operate at peak performance.
National Eat Better, Eat Together Month is perfectly timed in October, as families shift into a new school year and all the scheduling challenges that accompany this time of year. Remember to take care of yourself and your loved ones by making family meal time a priority. It can be dinner on a weeknight, lunch on Saturday, or an early breakfast before the day’s madness begins. Review your family schedule and see where you can make some adjustments in order to guarantee some table time together; the benefits you reap will be long lasting!