8 reasons to make time for family dinner

Don't let scheduling conflicts interrupt the tradition of sitting down to dinner with your family.

Story highlights

  • Finding time to eat with your family may leave you feeling less stressed
  • A family meal is the perfect opportunity to expose children to different foods
  • Eating frequent family meals helps children do better in school
Soccer practices, dance rehearsals, playdates, and other scheduling conflicts make family mealtime seem like a thing of the past. Suddenly, we're feeding our kids breakfast bars during the morning commute, sneaking 100-calorie packs at our desks, and grabbing dinner at the drive-thru window.
Despite the feeling that there's no time for such luxuries, 59% of families report eating dinner together at least five times a week -- an increase from only 47% in 1998, according to the Importance of Family Dinner IV, a report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University.
If you're finding it difficult to get together with your family at the dinner table, here's a little inspiration.
Supper can be a stress reliever
Believe it or not, if you have a demanding job, finding time to eat with your family may actually leave you feeling less stressed.
In 2008, researchers at Brigham Young University conducted a study of IBM workers and found that sitting down to a family meal helped working moms reduce the tension and strain from long hours at the office. (Interestingly, the effect wasn't as pronounced among dads.) Alas, the study didn't take into account the stress of rushing to get out o