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The Family Meal - is Work and Life Stress Affecting It?

This has been reproduced with permission. Copyright remains with the Family Resiliency Centre, University of Illinois.

Managing Work Life Stress for Better Family Dinners - Why Does it Matter?

Why doesit matter?
Picky eating behaviors have been identified by families as a
major barrierto having regularshared familymealtimes.
Parentsserve asimportantrolemodelsin helping children
develop healthy eating habits. Thisis especially important as
food preferences are formed early and remain stable
throughout childhood.
Tipsfor Parents:
 Try new foods yourself ‐ parents and other adultsserve as
important healthy role‐modelsfor children.
 Help kids get out of a food rut by encouraging and offering
new foods on a regular basis.
 Children need early and repeated exposuresto healthy foods.
 It can take children up to ten timesto accept a new food.
 Offer a wide variety of healthy foods.
 Try offering food served in different ways or cut up into
differentshapes.
 Let children help select new fruits and vegetables atthe
grocery store.
 Make healthy food accessible – have itstored in your
cupboard and serve it atthe table.
 Turn offthe TV ‐ parentsserve asimportant gatekeepersto
help children avoid unhealthymediamessages.
 Avoid using threats, pressure or bribesto get your child to
eat.
 Help your child learn to recognize when they are hungry or
when they are full.
 Keep portion sizes appropriate to the age of your child.

Managing work‐life stress has become an increasing challenge for parents. All too often, stress from the work day spills over into family time and this can adversely impact the physical and emotional health of family members. Parents report that not being able to balance work/life stress is a major barrier to shared family dinners or family mealtimes.

Tips for Parents to Create a Family Meal Time Free from Stress

  • Develop a routine for transitioning from work to home.
  • Make a conscious decision to create a boundary between work and home when you are with your family.
  • Turn off your cell phone and put away your computer for a few hours.
  • Before leaving work make a list of things that you need to do the next day.
  • Changing out of work clothes is an easy way to transition to home.
  • Let the work stress out – take a big breath before leaving work.
  • Make a plan. Knowing that you have everything on hand for dinner can help alleviate post‐work stress.
  • Learn to say ‘no’ to additional time demands.
  • Use a different tone of voice at home than you do at work.
  • Focus on what you’re doing. Multi‐tasking can add stress, not relieve it.
  • Institute a no‐screen rule at the dinner table – turn off smartphones, tablets, laptops, and televisions.
  • Learn to ask for help. Kids as young as three can help around the house and with dinner preparations.
  • Control your schedule – don’t let it control you. It’s okay to say no to activities and obligations.
  • Help children learn how to transition from school to home ‐ talk through strategies the whole family can use.
  • Parents with flexible work schedules report having reduced work/life stress.

From Mealtime Minutes

image Flickr ambernectar 13