Saturday, October 1, 2011

Family meals: great in theory, tough in execution

A few months ago I was sitting in a meeting (ironically, if I recall, about mommy bloggers) when the presenter suddenly sprung this beautiful video on us about the importance of eating dinner as a family. We were discussing it in dry marketing terms, but I couldn't help but wonder how everyone else around the table felt, because most of us never get home in time for dinner, and it made me feel like crap. Because in my house, the pre-school set likes to dine right about the time that the last round of formally scheduled meetings start: 5:30. I wondered how many years would have to pass before we could all be eating together at 7:30 - because right now that hour is reserved for bedtime.

Then, in this weekend's New York Times Magazine, there was this article about what eating together means to different families - and acknowledging that it's tough to pull off for a full half of the country. Half!

In our house, we started doing family meals on Sunday - either lunch or dinner. With a three year old and a five year old it was time to finally start using the most expensively furnished and least used room in our house: the dining room. A meal is prepared, the table is set, and then chaos begins. Food is rejected, manners are poor, spilling is unavoidable and tears are not unusual. After three attempts even my husband complained, "This isn't fun." I agreed, but we also agreed that's why we had to stick with it. Because you have to learn how to have a family meal, and use your fork, and politely decline offensive offerings. And in between all the coaching, pleading and bribing, we are laughing, praising and treasuring two genuinely funny (and messy) little people.

When that 7:30 dinnertime finally rolls around, we'll be ready.

Is it hard for you to eat as a family? How old were your kids when you started?

1 comment:

  1. allyn has made family dinner a daily ritual since we moved the office to our home in '03. it was the best thing we ever did. perhaps the kids could eat (partially) at 5:30 and then sit and have the rest (or desert) with you and scott at 7:30? afterall, it's less about eating together than being together. the 'in between' moments are what you will remember and treasure. thank you for sharing your personal but universally-appealing drivel.