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Finding Time For Family Meals During A Sports Season

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This resource stems from a question submitted to the Ask PCA blog. Responses come from our experts including PCA Trainers, who lead live group workshops for coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes.

"Like many families, our game and practice schedules make it hard to have dinner together each night. Given the importance of this family ritual, can you offer suggestions to parents who are conflicted?"

PCA Response by Joe Scally, PCA Trainer–Chicago
Research shows that there are many benefits to family meals, such as developing healthier eating habits, learning good manners, bonding, communicating, planning, and solving conflicts. Kids who eat with their families four or five times per week showed better grades, less susceptibility to addiction and less prone to other problem behaviors.

For busy families, meals together won't happen often enough by chance, so try to schedule them just like games and practices. You may have to be creative, for example, sharing breakfast instead of dinner sometimes.

Even when there is just not enough time and flexibility within schedules to allow for family meals, many of the benefits can be obtained in other ways. For instance, avoid eating fast food just because it’s more convenient after practice or a game, and use the time driving to practice or games to discuss current events, school, family issues or other topics not related to sports.

One last train of thought is to find other things you can do together as a family, including exercise, board games or doing chores and housework at the same time. Such activities provide opportunities for bonding, communicating, and developing a sense of family just like meals do.

Download a printable version of this resource, including any additional commentary from PCA, by clicking the PDF below. To read more questions and answers like this, or to submit your own question to the Ask PCA blog, click here.

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