family mealtimeIn his farewell address to the nation, President Ronald Reagan declared, “All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So tomorrow night in the kitchen, I hope the talking begins.”

Barack Obama has a strict rule in The White House, at 6:30pm each night he stops work (albeit sometimes temporarily) and enjoys his evening meal with his family.

Meal times are a great time for families to get together, share stories of the day and spend quality time with each other. Life is busy and it’s often difficult to get everyone in the same place at the same time, but whenever you can, try to all sit down and eat together, it will do wonders for your families relationships and your children’s social skills.

We’ve developed some top tips to help you and your family to get the most out of meal times.

Every meal is an opportunity to bond

We understand how busy we all are today, so eating your evening meal together might not always be possible. But you can eat any meal together, not just dinner. Why not try to eat breakfast together before everyone sets off for the day, start the day with a positive feeling and a sense of belonging.

Get everyone involved 

If you can, try to get everyone involved in the preparation. Perhaps the children can lay the table, chop vegetables, or put the dishes in the dishwasher afterwards. Make everyone feel that they have a part to play in the family dinner.

Technology free zone

Turn off the TV, the mobile phones, tablets and games consoles. Sit together at the table and talk about your day. There are so many distractions in life, use this time to slow down, relax and share time with your family. A little background music, perhaps the radio, can take the pressure off, silence can make you feel pressured into talking, which is counter productive to a relaxing time.

Set a good example

This is the perfect opportunity to teach your children manners. Lead by example and show them the correct way to behave when eating a meal.

Ask questions

If you are lucky enough to have children that eat well, you will be hard pressed to get them to talk, they’ll be too busy eating! Allow them to eat but encourage them to slow down, take their time and enjoy the food. Ask them questions about their day. What did they enjoy the most? What did they find most challenging? What did they learn in school? Ask them about their friends and extracurricular activities. They will need prompting at first to learn the art of conversation, but persevere, they will soon get the hang of it.

Join Niche Etiquette Children’s Sunday dining sessions to enhance your child’s table etiquette, at home and when out at one of your favourite silver service restaurants. mealtimes