Family Life · Parenting

Making Time For Family Dinner

img_3601There is nothing more “Perfectly Backwards” than the lost art of the family meal.  Can we just park here for a minute? I want to acknowledge that some of us may not have such fond memories of family dinner.  Maybe that seemed like the most tense part of the day, maybe it often was met with parents arguing, or when everything slowed down just enough to bring out the reality of just how broken the family has become.

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I have my own not so fond memories of having to gag down creamed tuna with peas and the chaos that would ensue when I gagged so much that I threw up at the table.  Or the times that my brother and I nervously sat at the table wondering if mom would spill the beans to dad about whatever nonsense we took part in that day, or the report card that once again mentioned how much I liked to talk during class.

There were also many wonderful dinner moments growing up.  Teasing my mom about the turkey she had accidentally left out of the Turkey Pot Pie, or the rice she hadn’t cooked prior to putting into the meatballs.  (She was a great cook, but we all have our moments!)   Our favorite times were when my dad would tell us stories of he and his brothers growing up…so good.

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Over the last 2 decades, the tide has turned and  we have families with both parents working, growing work hours, out of control extracurricular schedules, and the black hole of technology.  Many of us now crave the nurturing and connection of family dinner.  A time carved out to reconnect as husbands and wives, parents and children, and brothers and sisters.

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A time dedicated to nourishing our body’s and souls, chatting about the days “highs” and “lows”, and laughing over the tragedy that is moms meatloaf. 😉

Having dinner together as a family has been a priority of mine since the beginning of our marriage. It has not been easy, please know that, but I do feel as though we have overcome many hurdles that many families face when trying to create this time in their homes.  Here are a few hurdles, along with some ideas on how to overcome them.

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Shift Work- Oh boy.  Whenever Josh had a schedule change, the first thing we would do was identify when we would all eat together.  Sometimes it was breakfast or lunch, or maybe an early dinner…but we made it work.

Sports Schedules-  The more kids you have the trickier this gets.  We generally eat at 5:30pm every night, but flexiblity is key.  If it’s reasonable to wait until everyone’s home, we do that, otherwise we save a plate for whoever is gone.  Sometimes we eat early before games or practice…

Allergies/Pickiness- Ugh…this is tricky!  Thankfully I love to cook and can adjust recipes pretty easily.  I make food that is safe for everyone to eat and we follow the rule “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit!”

Teen Work Schedules-  Same as sports…

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The bottom line here is sacrifice and flexibility.  If you want it to work, you’ll make it work.  Another misconception here is that you have to cook extravagant meals. Umm, NO!  Everyone loves tacos, spaghetti, and pizza.  Have it every night if you must..

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Family dinners are a part of the very fabric that holds our family together. When we come together at the table, we feel re-connected and aligned, which then carries on throughout the evening.   I love that after a long day of everyone fighting their various battles in the world, they come home to the table, where they are loved, nourished, and safe.  Family dinners say “this is where you belong.”  “You are home.”

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