Last year, I tried my hand at homeschool. I definitely didn’t win teacher of the year, but I will always cherish the amount of quality time I got with my kids. Now that they are back at school, it seems like the evening is over in a blink. I realized I need to make more of an effort to connect with them at night in between sports, homework and running to the neighbors to play.

Was it always this busy in life? My mom always tells me that it keeps getting busier! I feel like I am in a constant battle to slow things down.

I recently asked my mother-in-law what she thought had changed about raising children in the past 30 years. What are some of the valuable things that we don’t make time for anymore? Her first response: family dinner around the table.

Immediately, my mind flashed to the countless nights my kids eat sitting at the counter while I scarf food down standing up. Then, I clean while they finish eating. I was usually so proud of myself for even making dinner that I never thought about prioritizing actually enjoying that meal with my family.

The next night, I announced to everyone we would be eating together at the table. It sounds a little daunting when you have little kids because you are constantly getting up to get stuff. I just decided to involve my big kids and had them set the table. Paper plates for the win!

I could actually cry when I tell you how profound this little shift was. My big kids were so settled and happy sitting directly across the table from Kyle and I. Both of us asked about their days, and they took turns with stories. Even my super picky toddler sat in her highchair and ate more than I had seen her eat in months. We all decided this was a new priority in our house, and the research backs up our feelings.

Studies show there are amazing benefits from kids and teens eating as a family. For young kids, it gives them a sense of structure and belonging. They feel much safer. For more than 70% of teens, catching up and spending quality time over a meal is their favorite part. I wonder if they ever admit this to their parents. According to CASA, nightly family dinners resulted in kids twice as likely to get A’s in school. It also helps with healthy food choices, portion control and fighting against obesity.

Most importantly to me, studies involving more than 5,000 kids show family dinners lead to more happiness and strong mental health. I think we can all agree that anything that supports our kids’ mental health and joy after the past couple years is worth investing in.

The special bonding that happens at dinner really gives you that moment, the moment we moms search for each day with our kids where we truly connect with them. They feel our love, and we feel theirs. It’s the moment that helps us sleep at night. Even if we did a million things wrong that day, we got that moment right, and that is what our kids will remember.

Maybe you have been reaping the benefits of family mealtime for a long time. Maybe you started out right and like me, got a little lazy in your execution. If you make one simple shift this year in improving life at home, maybe it should be this one. I know I am so grateful we are working towards more family mealtime in our house.

Katelyn Young is a local mom of three (her #crumblycrew) who shares real moments of motherhood as it relates to fashion, food and fun! Follow her on Instagram @_katelynyoung_ or follow her blog at