Consider this: now is not the time for dinner parties of any kind. Instead, people are staying home, enjoying meals with their own nuclear families and looking forward to the recovery period on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, in which the world finds itself presently engulfed. As billions of people around the world face shelter in place orders mandated because of what this writer calls The COVID-19 Effect, family oriented dinners – and breakfasts and lunches – are increasing. This is a positive effect of a bad set of circumstances, as we shall discuss later. My mother used to say, “When you've been given lemons to live with, make lemonade!” This axiom can be utilized literally and figuratively in this respect thanks to circumstances that necessitate home meal preparation.
I wrote a book some time ago titled Kids in the Kitchen, which extolls the virtue of families finding common ground in the kitchen, of all places, to help cement the bonds of “unity within and among family units,” Saying invite as many people over as possible and we can always welcome the stranger into our home are vestiges, it seems, of a bygone era, and let's face it, that's just not something that we can do right now. But I suggest that my squabble holds true for those of us who are stuck at home and want to keep the home fires burning and the family unit intact. Whatever happened to the good ol' days? You know, the days of having home cooked meals with loved ones and good conversation. The fast paced world of today has almost made cooking as a family event a relic of the past. You may be asking: Who has time to cook when everyone is worried about what will happen next in the pandemic crisis? This writer says, “Take it to the kitchen!” The silver lining in the cloud just may reveal the following 6 benefits, which may yield to you, the reader, a change of heart.
Brings the Classroom Home
Learning is something that should be promoted at all times even when not in school. Cooking as a family is perhaps one of the easiest (and tastiest) ways to do this. Turn every cake or pie into a math problem with a delicious prize by working on division and fractions. All subjects can be taught in the kitchen. Improving English or learning foreign languages can be taught through common phrases and ingredients. Social studies is a practical subject that is very easy and fun to integrate: have a cultural dinner once per week to teach about different countries, ethnic groups or traditions (Also the premise of my previously released book Kids in the Kitchen; Amazon.com.)
Promotes Healthy Living
In a country plagued by obesity, parents must remain on the frontline of caring for their children's health. Also, promoting healthy eating for children can be just the jumpstart parents need to eat healthier themselves. Preparing food at home takes longer than fast food and microwave options, and this lack of instant gratification curbs junk food eating. When a family cooks together, a support system is automatically put in place for those who have trouble with snacking and poor food choices. An added benefit of family cooking is that children with food allergies can be catered to and the child can gain back some control over their situation.
Carry on Tradition
Passing things on from one generation to the next has become something of the past. Families that cook together can carry on old recipes and promote family pride while building better relationships with grandparents or extended family. Don't have any family recipes? No worries! You can create new ones with children. Having something to pass on builds a sense of pride and anticipation for a productive future. A tradition of telling stories that surround those recipes is great to pass on as well.
Sometimes young people just need an opportunity to see how great they really are. Cooking as a family can help to build up a person from the inside out. Children can gain self-confidence and pride when achieving cooking goals, such as meeting deadlines and receiving praise for new recipes. Creativity, working well with others and organization are also skills that can be gained through family cooking.
Family cooking is one of the best ways to build relationships. Conversing with children, teenagers especially, can be difficult. Performing activities in a casual environment such as the kitchen while conversing can help to lessen the awkwardness and stress caused by some conversations. Everyone loves and needs to eat, so the neutral territory can ease any tensions. Also, parents may be able to more quickly notice when things are wrong. It can prove difficult to notice when something is wrong with a child who is allowed to spend dinner and all their free time in a private space. When family cooking is established, out in the open interactions are normal and red flags will be raised faster when that suddenly stops. Hint to children: always put dad's TV remote control device back in the same place where you found it!
Yes, really. A marriage, especially one with vestiges of a blended family, has so many factors and sometimes complex issues that, to some degree, an activity as simple as family cooking may not seem like a solution. However, it makes perfect sense when you think about it. Family cooking saves money, time and sanity. The money saved can be spent on tuition, an extra car or home repairs that were causing tensions. Spent over a period of time, money saved can be used on bonding with a spouse instead of cleaning dishes all by yourself. The more sanity you have will help to de-stress your life, and who doesn't need less stress specific to the issues presented by The COVID-19 Effect? No one knows for sure what will happen with the apex of the coronavirus, but this writer is confident that making family meals as a unit, including children, whenever possible, is important because you are attending to the needs of others, even if the kids you are helping are starting to seem very irritating because you've been putting up with them for the last six weeks. If it makes you feel any better; just know that this writer's family is not the exception that proves the rule! By the way son; where is my remote control?