Parenting experts have long promoted the importance of sitting down for a shared family meal. Research shows family meal time comes with benefits; improved communication, healthy eating habits and self-esteem in kids. But what if this 'gold standard' of mealtime parenting doesn't suit you? Worse, what if family mealtimes are simply not enjoyable or cause you stress?
On an episode of Mamamia Outloud last week, Mia Freedman talked about how she has never done family dinners. Her kids have always enjoyed 'picnic plates', a relation to the latest viral TikTok trend, 'Girl dinner', with a mix of fruit, toast, cheese or whatever they fancy.
Now Mia's kids are older, they also use Uber Eats or can help themselves to whatever is in the fully stocked fridge.
Listen to Mia discuss her family dinner style in this episode of Mamamia Outloud. Post continues below.
Mia is far from the only parent to reject the notion of nightly family mealtimes.
Full-time mechanical engineer Hanna Smith is a mum to four-year-old Megan, and she says that while she enjoys occasional restaurant meals out with Megan and her fiancé Josh, the three of them rarely sit down for dinner together at home.
"Both Josh and I have busy work schedules and complex dietary requirements that make family dinner time quite challenging," Hanna tells Mamamia.
"I am a vegetarian and I am allergic to nuts, gluten and apples. Josh is allergic to nuts and gluten but he can't eat dairy. He will bulk cook meat-based meals like spaghetti bolognese or shepherd's pie and I do the same with vegetarian pasta or rice-based dishes.
"Lucky for us, Megan eats pretty much anything so she will have a bit of my food and Josh's and some days a simple snack plate of cheese, crackers and fruit."