Busy lifestyles can take away time from what might be better spend on building family togetherness. The average time spent in families on household routines like cooking, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is over two hours. It makes sense for parents to use meal times as a relationship builder and to get closer to their children.
Solid relationships are built upon quality conversation. Quantity of communication is also important, and tying conversation to a daily ritual, such as meal time, ensures that family time is regularly had. Cooking time is a great opportunity to get to know each other, learn new things, stay informed about each other’s lives, and simply share life together. Every aspect of meal time can lend itself to relationship building.
Planning and Shopping
Children of all ages can learn to plan meals. If they help choose and plan some of the family’s meals, it will foster a healthy sense of pride and accomplishment for them. It also gives parents a chance to incorporate nutrition advice and to witness their child’s intriguing thought processes.
Grocery shopping is a prime time for discussions. Strolling the aisles while obtaining items from a list made together, is a comfortable platform for conversation. Whether it’s casual conversation about the day, or deeper talks about future plans or potential vacation spots, as examples, these moments help form tight family bonds.
Smells are closely related to memories. In an ABC Science article, “Smells and Memory 2,” Karl S. Kruszelnicki reports that smells make great triggers for memories. Many people can smell a food and instantly be taken back to their childhood. Cooking with children can help form these memories that will be a comfort later in life.
Cooking is also an opportune time to slip in a little math and culinary education. Encourage a sense of adventure by combining new foods and flavors. Discuss how the food being prepared went through an amazing journey and many people’s hard work to get to the dinner table. Don’t forget to play with the food, too. Flip pancakes super high, don aprons and fake mustaches, and arrange brownies into pyramids. These are the moments a parent wants to engrave on their child’s memory, and their own.
Serving, Dinner, and Clean-Up
This part of family meal time is a great occasion to exemplify the joy of serving others. Children love to bring a smile to people’s faces and receive praise for a job well done. When they feel appreciated in this manner, meal time will become a tool to strengthen the family.
The actual eating time, as well as after meal clean-up, are good free moments for further discussion. Hi/Lo is a great conversation game to play during this time. To play, just go around the table and everyone discloses their best and worst moments of the day. Sharing in each other’s lives is what good family relationships are all about.
Time spent in the kitchen can be used to be together as a family. From the meal preparation, to the cooking, to the final clean-up, there are many chances on a daily basis to express love and appreciation for one another. The kitchen is still the hub of a strong family life.