"Recipe for mealtime madness: Take two working parents. Add a sprinkle of children. Blend in after-school sports, play rehearsals, and piano lessons. Fold in a healthy amount of homework and the tempting promise of must-see TV shows. Mix together frantically and attempt to serve before bedtime." - Erinn Figg

Eating meals together, even for homeschool families, has become increasingly more difficult, but not sharing family meals together can impact our children. The American Psychological Association published a study that proved teens had fewer problems with drugs, depression, suicide, academic motivation, and peer relationships if they ate dinner with their family an average of at least five days a week. Children were also 20% less likely to drink, smoke, or be involved in sex if they ate together as a family.

Communication is the main ingredient of a family's mealtime that leads to these amazing statistics. Each mealtime allows us to connect with our children and be involved with what is important in their lives. Discussions can revolve around their challenges, a favorite book, or the next family outing.

Scheduling a time to eat together at the table is a priority that requires teamwork. Explain that dinnertime is not the time to do homework, shop at the mall, watch TV, text, or answer emails. Then, have your children help plan and prepare the meals. Participating in activities outside the home, such as sports or music, may require compromise, but adjustments should not factor out mealtimes. Simply eat together earlier or later. Guarding mealtimes helps children eat healthier, develop better conversation and decision-making skills, and adjust emotionally and academically.

Some of the following suggestions might also help make your mealtimes more possible and meaningful:

    • Discuss topics that do not allow bickering or arguing.
    • Set your table with different themes.
    • Prepare simple meals so most of your time is spent with your family rather than your stove.
    • Make meals in advance or double a meal to provide leftovers for the next day.
    • Have older children buy the groceries and prepare a meal.
    • Repeat the menu for a particular week night like Taco Tuesday night.
Most importantly, remember that what is on the menu is not as important as keeping a consistent mealtime schedule. Don't allow the flexibility of homeschooling to steal the most important time of the day. So, clear off the books, set the table, and experience what we value most as homeschoolers - family time together.