Former WNBA Star Lisa Leslie: Dinner Time Is Family Quality Time

August 27, 2015  |  

Lisa Leslie and daughter

She is one talented and successful mommy. With numerous awards and achievements under her belt in the basketball world, former WNBA star Lisa Leslie has teamed up with Boston Market to help inspire families to spend more quality time together. She spoke with Mommynoire about why she believes in the campaign and offers her own mommy tips.

MommyNoire: So tell us about the Log Out, Look Up Movement.

Lisa Leslie: I’ve teamed up with Boston Market and the Log Out, Look Up Movement which is really about parents and children putting down our devices and engaging in conversation and communication at dinnertime. Twenty-two minutes is the estimated time that people are sitting down and having dinner. We really want kids and families to sit around and have a healthy meal whether it’s a Boston Market meal or a meal of their choice.

That sounds amazing, especially since nowadays a lot of young people seem addicted to social media and just being online. How can you break that a little without having them rebel?

LL: Well, I have learned a lot from The Family Dinner Project at Harvard. You really want to try two strategies and number one is engaging in conversation and finding conversation that is appropriate for your kids and their age. And the other thing is to play games. Statistics are showing that kids are more likely to increase their vocabulary and do better in school and increase their grade point average. They’re also less  likely to do drugs and get pregnant early when you engage them in these conversations. So you can learn different strategies at BostonMarket.com.

What are some of the games?

My kids are five and eight and we play games first before we eat. We start out with eye spy or looking at things around the house or just doing some riddle game where we describe something. From those games, it may lead into me saying, “Ok, tell me three things that went well today at school or that you did?” or “How did you help someone today?” And so when you engage them in those conversations they really look forward to that structure, and therefore they look forward to that time we sit down to dinner and also to play the dinner games.  When you go onto the website, you can find out different conversations starters or games depending on the age group–teenagers can be a little more challenging.

Do you have any tips for busy parents and how they can balance family time?

LL: Yes. It can be difficult when you talk about balancing time to get that dinner to the table, but what I found was key for me was meal prep. Whether it was picking up Boston Market before they left for practice at 5:00 or prepping some of the meal before hand and taking that rotisserie chicken from Boston Market, I’m always planning. Then I would chop that up and make the chicken enchiladas or chicken tacos. Preparing meals in advance really helps me get the food to the table quickly but also gives us that time and structure that my kids look forward to. In fact, whenever my kids would eat anything on the go we get home and they’re like “mom when is dinner?” and I’m like “what we just ate,” but they feel like they missed the time at the table so my kids are accustomed to that and also turning the television off. Engaging your children and talking when you think about all of the statistics that I shared it’s definitely worth finding 22 minutes to dedicate to your family.

What’s your favorite meal to cook and do they ever get involved with helping you make dinner?

LL: I really am big on casseroles so I can take the casserole out and then we have left overs. One of the things I’ll do is take the Boston Market vegetables and spread them at the bottom of my Pyrex dish. Then I’ll put in some raw rice and probably a cup and a half of chicken broth on top of it. And then chop up the chicken and then lay it on top and throw that in the oven with a little cream of chicken soup. That’s one of the family favorites because it has great flavor and it can last a few days. My kids also love spaghetti casseroles. Yesterday, I made chicken enchiladas and my daughter helped me chop up the vegetables. She loves when she gets the chance to help me, she’s like: “Mom, can we make a salad?” because she will recognize if we are missing vegetables. I like that because along the way she is eating the vegetables as we are cooking. And it’s really about her understanding how to create a balanced meal as well.

Are your kids into sports or entertainment?

LL: Yes, everything…my daughter plays tennis and basketball as well as the piano. My son is in martial arts and plays soccer, so our schedule is very full. For me it’s really about organizing my schedule and preparing and staying two or three steps ahead of them. I think most moms out there know that when your kids are hungry and you haven’t already prepared something, you’re stuck. It’s then that you’re more likely to go get something that is fried and quick for them–not necessarily the healthiest choice. So for me, I always try to have my meals prepped either ahead of time or I’ll pick up my Boston Market…that’s really one of the keys is getting them the food before they get to a point where they are starving and super unhappy.

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