Life never stops being busy and your To-Do List seems to stay the same length, no matter how much you scratch off of it. It’s the price we pay to live the lifestyles we choose and most of the time the sacrifices are worth it. If you have children, you will understand first-hand the frustration of missing important events and moments. Well, research has come to the rescue to let you off the hook for skipping dance recitals, soccer matches and plays.

For most Australian families, meals are hastily shovelled down around the kitchen table, or shared late at night in front of the TV on the sofa. Turns out there is only one meal you need to make sure you attend together that will really benefit your family. It’s time you dusted off your dining room and table set, because research shows that sharing a mealtime around the dining room table will bring more unity to your family.

Research done with families all over the world from various incomes, backgrounds and cultures have all come to the same conclusion, and that is that having dinner as a family can have untold benefits for your relationships with your children, even from infancy. According to Harvard University Researcher Anne Fishel, children who share meals with their family experience the following benefits:

  • Increased vocabulary – children who attend family dinners from a younger age pick up about 1000 more words than those who don’t. They also start reading earlier and with fewer problems.
  • Increased academic performance – regular meal-time attendance is positively linked to higher achievement in school.
  • Healthier diet choices – formal shared dinners lead to a higher consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables for children, a habit most will keep even after they grow up.
  • Better mental health – increased parental attention means that children are more likely to have a positive moods and lower rates of depression

The biggest concern that most families have is that their dining room furniture was not purchased with family meals in mind, but rather to match the rest of their home furniture or to entertain small groups of adults. If you feel your current dining furniture is too formal, small or modern to be enjoyed by the whole family, you can always upgrade it by visiting your nearest furniture store and finding something more suitable. If you are going to invest in your family time, you might as well as invest in the setting where it will take place.