Why Family Dinner Is Making a Comeback - Moms across the Country Unite In Challenge to Reclaim Dinner with the Kitchen Skinny

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Research confirms what parents intuitively know - family dinner is one of the most important activities parents can do to set their kids up for success - including higher grades and less risky behavior. The challenge for parents is how to reclaim dinner and make it a more feasible task.

Family dinner is one of the most important activities parents can do to set their kids up for success.

Why are moms & caregivers from around the country taking the pledge to reclaim dinner on September 24, 2012?

“As parents, we all want our kids to excel in school and to stay out of trouble. There is simply no other tool as powerful as a family dinner to help make that a reality for our kids.” shares Karen Friend Smith, founder of The Kitchen Skinny, a company that provides nutrition education & meal planning for busy families.

The statistics behind the benefits of family dinner are compelling for any parent. Research from the prestigious Columbia University and the National Center on Addiction and Substances Abuse (CASA) (http://www.casacolumbia.org) shows that teens who have regular family dinners (5 or more meals a week) compared to those that have less than 3 a week are:

  •     42% less likely to drink alcohol
  •     59% less likely to smoke cigarettes
  •     66% less likely to try marijuana
  •     3 ½ times less likely to have abused prescription drugs
  •     40% more likely to get A’s and B’s

In spite of these benefits, with work, after-school commitments, and so much competing with the dinner hour, families continue to struggle to get five or more meals together each week. With American families spending about 45% of their entire food budget eating out (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) and 1 in 5 meals being eaten in the car (The Family Dinner, Laurie David), it’s clear that families are hard-pressed for time at home sharing a meal together.

For many families, the idea of a family dinner 5 or more times a week seems impossible, but Smith suggests that with a little strategy and planning, families can get there faster than they think.

What can you do to ensure more regular family dinners at your house? Smith suggests:

Make a commitment. Decide when you are going to start. Family Day - A Day to Have Dinner with your Children is on September 24, 2012. What a perfect time to make a decision and take action.

Set a realistic goal. Start with just one more family dinner together each week. Once that becomes easy, add one more and then another until your reach your goal of 5 or more.

Get some support. Take advantage of the wealth of online resources for family dinners from meal planning to conversation starters, games, and cookbooks.

Be consistent. Schedule dinner time and make it a priority. It’s not easy, but that consistency is where the magic occurs. Kids need to know they can count on this time with you.

Create accountability. Share your commitment to reclaim dinner with a friend or on Facebook. There's nothing like making your commitment public to help motivate you to stay the course.

Have a plan. Plan and shop for dinner ahead of time – even if it’s something fast. Get your family involved. Set the table and clean up together. Let each family member take turns choosing what you will have for dinner.

Make it fun. Play some good upbeat music while preparing the food and setting the table together. Light a candle and use your nice dishes. Share highlights from your day and strike up conversations.

Be fully present. What kids value the most is time with their parents and your undivided attention. Turn off your cell phone, the TV and any other distractions that might keep you from enjoying every minute of your time together as a family.

"Dinner should not be another chore, but a time that everyone in the family looks forward to. It's a process to get there, but the rewards are well worth the effort," Smith explained.

For more strategies and support from other moms, visit http://www.reclaimdinner.com and join the 30-day challenge to Reclaim Dinner. Participants receive free recipes, conversation starters and tips, as well as encouragement and accountability, throughout the challenge as they spark a new family dinner habit.

About Reclaim Dinner
Reclaim Dinner is a free 30-day challenge to reconnect families around the dinner table - created and hosted by The Kitchen Skinny, a platform for helping families improve their health and connectedness. For more information about Reclaim Dinner, visit http://www.reclaimdinner.com. For more information about The Kitchen Skinny, visit: http://www.thekitchenskinny.com

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