- The Quality Time study, recently conducted by Lancewood to gain insight into South African families' eating and cooking habits, revealed that 89% of the 2100 respondents interviewed believed that quality time with their family is essential.
- However, many participants said that quality time is not always easy due to fast-paced, modern lifestyles.
- Four local expert collaborated on the study to add insight and share their tips on making the most of family mealtime.
The study showed that work commitments and communing are two of the most considerable barriers to families spending quality time together.
Additionally, close to half of the 2100 respondents, 45%, said they spent their mealtimes watching TV or using their cellphones.
On the bright side, 59% said that the nationwide lockdown provided their families with the opportunity to enjoy more mealtimes together, with 43% stating that their families are cooking together more often due to the lockdown.
READ MORE | WATCH | How to be truly happy and clear your mind of thoughts that bring you misery
Finding balance is key
According to acclaimed media consultant and author, Vanessa Raphaely, many people battle with spending too much time on technology, with several of us trying to limit screen time and remaining unsuccessful. However, according to Vanessa, technology isn't always bad.
"It is about ensuring a healthy balance," she says.
This is reiterated by psychologist, Dr Ilse de Beer, who recommends families try to find a happy medium between quality family time, and time spent on technology.
"Parents should encourage quality family time to engage and have fun. It is also important to limit time spent with technology. If we can balance these two things, I think our family structure will develop in a much healthier way," she says.
Moreover, Vanessa says, quality time doesn't always have to be centered around a large, formal meal.
"Just having a sandwich together, or even a cup of tea can do wonders to help families bond. There's something about letting go of everything formal and finding simple and creative ways to spend time together," she says.
READ MORE | If you're beating yourself up about absolutely everything, it's time to detox your emotions
Create a designated area to enjoy mealtimes
Although it is often impossible to sit down for meals in dining rooms and kitchens, 34% of respondents still said that this is where they spend their mealtimes together.
Having a space in your home to eat and be present goes a long way in creating quality time together as a family, says Vicki Sleet, a former magazine editor and stylist.
"Where possible, try and separate your workspace from the area where you eat to help with distinguishing between work time and family time," adds Vicki.
READ MORE | 'The festive season triggers my suicidal thoughts, here's what I've learnt to deal with them'
The uniting force of food
For chef and food stylist Zola Nene, food has always been "an expression of love."
It's like presenting your soul on a plate to somebody. It's the value you put into making sure that somebody enjoys whatever you give them to eat. Food is love - I think everybody thinks this, just to a different degree," she says.
However, mealtimes do not have to be an intimidating experience. It's about the simple things that can be done to make little moments more special, says Shereen Anderhold, marketing manager at Lancewood.
"A good idea is to dial up your creativity and find new ways to serve up old favourites," she says.
Compiled by Tyler Setzer
Do you have a story to share with us? Tell us about it here.
Follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Sign up to W24's newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our stories and giveaways.