It’s mid January already. 2014. Wow, how did that happen? By now, you’ve probably totally forgotten about your New Year’s resolutions. Or maybe you think New Year’s resolutions are lame and didn’t make any. That seems to be a common sentiment, but I contend that this almost pathological optimism is a good thing, even if it doesn’t last beyond the month of January. Also, I recently read that just the act of making a New Year’s resolution makes you 10 times more likely to have positive change in your life.
In the past, I’ve made lists of resolutions, which included everything from “lay off the French fries” to “do yoga every day” to “stop yelling at the kids.” Recently though, I’ve figured out that the best way to stick to a resolution is to make only one. Make it a good one — meaning a goal that is tangible, measurable, and doable — and try to make it a habit. And yes, you can start now.
Might I suggest dinner? Make making dinner your tangible, measurable, and (yes) doable New Year’s resolution.
Here’s why. I recently read a book called Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, which my pediatrician has wisely been recommending to the families in her practice. I can’t say enough good things about this book; it really challenged me and opened my mind while also validated many of the choices my husband and I have made as parents. I highly recommend Raising Happiness, especially if what you wish most for your children (and yourself!) is happiness.
Among author Christine Carter, Ph.D.’s recommendations for creating happiness are “Choose Gratitude,” “Teach Self-Disciple,” “Build a Village,” and…wait for it…”Eat Dinner Together.” The entire final chapter of the book is devoted to why family dinner is crucial to kids’ happiness. “Family mealtimes offer a concentrated dose of nurture and nourishment, two of the greatest and most fundamental human needs,” she writes.
The “remarkable” benefits of family meals (which Carter defines as children sharing a meal with at least one adult, preferably 5 or more times per week) include: more emotional stability, less likelihood of substance abuse, better grades, fewer depressive symptoms, and less chance of becoming obese or having an eating disorder. And, since you’re probably groaning by now about how hard it is to make dinner happen, she offers many ideas for creating routines that work for your family, including tag-teaming with your spouse or even with other families. Or having family breakfast instead. She also reinforced a very unpopular belief of mine, and that is that family dinner is more important than soccer, skating, choir, or Girl Scouts. If your kids have activities every night during dinnertime, it might be time to rethink your priorities or at least your schedule.
Also, what you eat is not nearly as important as with whom. As much as it pains me to write this, swing through a drive-thru or open a can of soup if it means you can eat together. However you do it, just do it. Five time a week. At least.
I’m here to help! Starting next week I’ll be offering weekly dinner ideas and recipes on the blog, along with a healthy dose of encouragement and some nifty tips for making family dinner easier, healthier, and more fun. Plus, I’ve got a full roster of NEW classes — including gluten-free cooking, intuitive cooking, and all-new Quick Classes! — scheduled through the spring! Click here to see the Winter & Spring 2014 Class Descriptions and sign up!
Making dinner is totally worth the trouble, and it doesn’t have to be that much trouble. It’s 2014, let’s eat!