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Around the Home: Gather the family for mealtime
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The days are zooming by really fast.

In just a few weeks many families — regardless of their size — will probably have more obligations and responsibilities.

Despite the demands of your schedule, it’s important to make family mealtimes a priority. Children of all ages need time to connect with their family members in a positive, comfortable atmosphere.

Mealtimes also give adults the opportunity to slow down and take a break. It’s all too easy for us to get caught up in a list of never-ending tasks.

Doesn’t it seem like there’s always one more thing to do or take care of before we feel comfortable taking a break? It can be quite stressful.

Taking the time to dine with family can give you a chance to step back and re-energize. Unfortunately, family meals are often reserved for holidays or special occasions, and they’re scattered here and there.

Goodness, we’re missing out on a lot of quality time throughout the year. And remember that each family is different. The things that work for your co-workers or neighbors may or may not work in your home.

Don’t compare your household to ones you see on TV or in magazines. The size of your house or dining area or where you live doesn’t matter.

Wouldn’t you agree that it’s all about building memories, traditions and providing a caring environment?

The menu doesn’t have to be chock full of elaborate dishes either. A good soup, tasty sandwich and colorful salad will work just fine. If you’re looking for recipes, check out the cookbooks available at your local library branch.

You can even pick up the phone and call some of your relatives. They probably have some recipes that they’d love to pass on to you and your family.

Need ideas on how to set a routine to make family meals possible and enjoyable?

The University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences offers these steps:

Pick consistent days and times. Reserve the time on your calendar and rearrange other commitments so everyone can be there.

Eat at the table. Children tend to get distracted easily. Don’t allow television and cell phones at the dinner table.

Serve "family-style" whenever possible. Put the food in serving containers on the table.

Teach portions. You can guide children while still allowing them to serve themselves.

Handle spills casually. When spills happen, stay calm. Get your child to help clean it up and continue with the meal.

Talk with your children. Mealtime is a great chance to share ideas and thoughts and to encourage children’s language development by involving them in conversations.

Encourage children to try new foods, but don’t force them. Introduce new foods step by step.

Be realistic about the length of the meal. Young children have very short attention spans.

Keep mealtime routines consistent. Do the same things in the same order every time you eat a meal together. The predictable routine will help them feel comfortable and secure.

Purchase a copy of "So Easy to Preserve" arrived at the Hall County Cooperative Extension Office for $18.

Sandra Stringer is a nutrition educator with the Hall County Extension Office 770-535-8290.


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