Family Life

No more TV dinners... 6 tips to get your older kids to sit at the table

Irish parents spend more time on household chores than sitting down together for family dinners… a fact that, to be honest, doesn't really shock us!

Between finishing homework, trying to get the kids fed and watered before bed and working to a different schedule than your other half, getting the whole family to the sit down at the table each evening is an impossible task.

In fact, research published by Dolmio found that nearly 50 percent of mums and dads spend twice as much time cleaning their house every day (63 minutes) than eating dinner with their family (30 minutes).

And while it is tough to get everyone together, a lot of parents believe that it plays a vital role in family bonding, and is the key ingredient to a happier family.

However, breaking the habit of a lifetime can be tough, especially when your kids are used to eating in front of the telly or doing homework at the same time.

But it doesn't have to be impossible.

MagicMum spoke to John Sharry, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapist, CEO Parents Plus Charity and Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the UCD School of Psychology, and he gave us the following tips: 

1. Decide that you want to do it

And just do it. 

2. Start gradually

Once a week to begin with… gradually increasing it to two, three, four, five etc. nights a week.

3. Involve your kids

Get them to help out with food prep, setting the table and even deciding what to eat.

4. Make it attractive

A special dessert once a week (otherwise your dentist will kill us) to entice them away from the TV and to the table is good way to start.

5. Establish a routine

So that they know what is expected each evening; this will hopefully keep all tantrums at bay…

6. Practice what you preach

Set a good example; don't be running around, putting dishes away when the kids are eating. If you want them sit at the table then you need to do the same.

So why is eating as a family so important?

Well, because this is when the best conversations happen; this is the moment parents hear stories about their children’s day and get the opportunity to share their own news.

And, as John says, sitting together helps with connection, creating good habits and provides a capacity to sort out problems.

"Shared mealtimes are one of the most important family rituals, which you can establish in a happy family," John continued.

"The simple act of having dinner together has a positive and meaningful impact on family relationships, and can even improve children's communication and development.

"The power of coming around the table together at dinnertime is remarkable.”

Join the conversation with Dolmio on the good things that happen around Irish dinner tables at shared mealtimes on

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