Whether you are caring for an aging loved one, taking care of your own family or just trying to maximize quality time with family and friends, finding time to sit down and enjoy a home cooked meal can be exhausting. While difficult, there are several reasons you should try to keep a regularly scheduled family meal in your routine.
When you may feel overwhelmed with caregiving responsibilities, allowing yourself to relax your mind and communicate about family happenings can lower your stress and even provide laughter. Or, being able to talk openly about your schedule and what you can and cannot do can help your family understand how to better support you.
There are also nutritional benefits to sitting down for a home-cooked meal. While caring for family and loved ones, meals can often come out of convenience rather than planning. Family meals provide dishes prepared with fresh ingredients, and eating slowly at a table aids in digestion.
Here are some other tips to help make family’s mealtime easier to fit into your schedule.
Plan ahead. Create a schedule for your family to help keep everyone accountable. By establishing a routine, everyone will know in advance when they need to set aside time for the family.
The meal doesn’t have to be dinner. For many families, sitting down to eat dinner together seven nights a week just isn’t possible. Aim to have family dinner as you’re able to. If dinner isn’t possible, try for breakfast in the morning or family lunch on the weekend.
Meal prep. Planning ahead doesn’t mean just creating a schedule. Ask for help from family members in preparing meals. When appropriate, each family member could be responsible for a week of preparing the meal.
Also planning ahead of time can ease the burden of cooking for the whole family. Try preparing meals during the weekend when you have more free time, or try cooking something like a casserole that can be frozen and served later.
Prepare meals together. One great way to involve the whole family and spend more time together is to prepare dinner together. Try a family recipe that will provide comfort and familiarity to everyone at the table.
Make the most of your time together. Quality time with the whole family can be rare and you want to get the most out of the time you have together. Make sure to keep outside distractions away from the table. This means turning off the TV and leaving other electronics like smart phones or iPads away from the dinner table. Mealtime is the perfect time to connect and catch up with the people who matter most.
You’ll be surprised how a simple change in your routine can improve relationships with your family members. If you have questions about your family’s healthcare needs, call 1.866.KINDRED to speak with a Registered Nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week.