If there’s one thing that most families expect when they first opt for a nanny, it’s that they will magically start eating together. Happy families, gathered around the dining table, enjoying nutritious food … that’s the dream.
The reality is often quite different. Families requiring professional childcare often have busy lives with tight schedules and complex demands on adult time. The chance of getting everybody sat down together are often remote, but it’s an important element of family life for the following reasons:
- Better health. Nutritionists suggest that rising childhood obesity might be linked to the statistic that while 57% of families ate their evening meal together every day in 2014, today only 48% do. When children ate with their families, they consumed 125g more fruit and veg than those who didn’t, a Leeds University study found.
- Better family relationships tend to develop over dinner. A Columbia University study found that even teenagers value family dinners – 71% said that talking, catching up and spending time with family members was valuable to them.
- Better eating. Healthier food choices often result from dietary patterns. Especially where a nanny is involved in the food purchasing and preparation, children are exposed to wider ranges of food choice, tend to eat less fried food and eat a greater range of key nutrients like iron, calcium and fibre. This gives children a wider palate and more adventurous attitudes to food.
- Many studies in many countries have shown that family dinners are related to academic performance although it’s not clear if the link is causal (maybe eating together makes children brighter or maybe brighter children like to eat with their parents!) but it’s very clear that families that prioritise quality time together, that eat well, are likely to have children who are more academically successful.
- Slimmer parents. Restaurant meals, on average, have 60% more calories than home cooked food. Given that we often eat more when we eat out, trying to get home and eat with the family is likely to give us smaller waistlines and healthier hearts!
- More resourceful students. Teenagers who ate with their families are better equipped for adult life. They tend to understand shopping, cooking and food budgeting – unlike their contemporaries who have eaten alone.
- Greater food enjoyment. One thing that all our families tell us is that involving nanny in the food planning for the household gives them new ideas and a greater scope to try new foods and new recipes, this breaks the boredom cycle that we all tend to get into which can lead to snacking and TV dinners rather than family feasts.
So while getting together for dinner can seem like a chore, there are so many scientifically backed reasons to do so that we should all make it a priority. And with a nanny to help you balance your childcare, there’s every chance to get into the kitchen and perfect your signature dish!