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I know I don't reference my Dad a lot in this blog, but that's mostly because I am really good at apologizing to my Mom. (Sorry, Dad.) Although my parents separated when I was little, I have some very nice memories of my Dad. For example, sometimes, he would make us waffles for dinner. It was pretty cool, because waffles are awesome and it added a touch of whimsy to an otherwise regular week day. He'd even put chocolate chips into mine. I have been known to make breakfast foods for dinner in my own household (including today on topsy-turvy Christmas Eve) to rave reviews. (Well, the first time my husband was a bit skeptical, but he came around because, come on, everyone loves pancakes.)

Turns out that Dad had the right idea (kind of). A new study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that teens who ate breakfast with their families every day were more likely to be at a healthy weight and had diets with higher levels of key nutrients. I just have a feeling that the study intended those breakfast foods to be eaten at breakfast time.

Still, the overall findings of the study is fabulous news...but oh wait. I eat breakfast while standing at the kitchen sink, so that doesn't work for us.

Nutritional components aside, I think there is a lot of pressure on parents to have a family meal together. But I have my own take on it. It is nice to eat breakfast or dinner together, if you can, but I believe the larger point is that you spend time together. So, here are some tips for making that happen:

Image by Shawn Carpenter
  1. Create a "meal" that works for your family. Maybe you can't coordinate schedules to have everyone together for breakfast or dinner. How about a pre-bedtime ritual of hot tea or milk and a cookie or fruit before bed?
  2. Create family time. We like to play board games together on Wednesday nights. Wednesdays are usually the easy dinner nights because we let our son pick dinner that week. Do we end up eating pb&j sandwiches? Yes. And we love them.
  3. Find opportunities to talk. Stuck in traffic? Start a conversation. It will be so much better than just fuming at the other drivers.
  4. Family sports. Consider having the entire family join a bowling league, or make time to go bicycle riding or do another sport together. You will get to talk and get exercise at the same time.
  5. Consider having family meetings. Yes, it sounds a little ridiculous and Cosby Show-esque. But it only takes 20 minutes to check in with everyone and get their take on what is going right that week and what everyone needs to work on. Just make sure that everyone at the meeting gets a voice and that they are scheduled as sacred time that can't be broken.

Do you get to eat meals together as a family? Or do you have to find other ways to spend time together (if so, what do you do)? Tell me in the comments.

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