By Hannah Werthan
April 15, 2014
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This week is the Jewish holiday of Passover, and tonight we have the second seder, or Passover dinner. What I enjoy about Passover is the opportunity to have back-to-back dinners with family and friends, some of whom we might not see often. It's an excuse to skip after-school and after-work activities and come together. The seder, with all of its prayers and traditions, slows down the night and allows us to enjoy each other's company. For me, simply sitting down at a kitchen table and eating a meal is something that I don't normally do.

The good news is that more families are regularly having dinners together. According to the Importance of Family Dinner IV, a 2007 report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, a surprising 59 percent of families report eating dinner together at least five times a week, which is a 12 percent increase from 1998. Even President Obama and Lean In's Sheryl Sandberg make sure they are at the dinner table almost every night. There are some great benefits from eating together as a family. Research shows that children who eat with their families regularly are more motivated, receive better grades in school, and get along better with others. Family dinner is also a way to strengthen communication and bond with your kids. Kids who eat with family members are more likely to eat healthy foods and less likely to become overweight. Moms benefit from family dinners, too! Researchers at Brigham Young University studied working moms at IBM in 2008 and found that sitting down for a family dinner relieved their tension and stress.

If you're looking to get more use out of your kitchen table, there are plenty of online resources to get you started. On Dinner a Love Story, blogger Jenny Rosenstrach shares how she schedules family dinners around after-school activities and reveals her favorite recipes for busy parents. Our site also has plenty of easy, family-friendly recipes. If you're worried about silence at the dinner table, check out the Family Dinner Project for their fun conversation topics, games, and activities. Have a great time with your family!

Try one of these one-pot suppers this week and browse kids' place mats.

Image via Shutterstock.