Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I've always been a big advocate for family dinners.

My family always gathered around the table at the end of the day as I grew up, so I figured it would be a natural occurrence for me when I became a wife and a Mom.

So, I worked to make it happen. When Cub was a baby, I tried holding off his feeding until my husband came home. It was stressful at times, but I was determined to make it happen. As he got older, it became easier and eventually our little family of three ate together every night. It was still a bit of a challenge to hold Cub off until my husband came home, but we made it work.

Then, enter Naomi.

I still tried to get the four of us at the table when my husband came home, but oh my goodness, sometimes it was tough. And, recently, it's become a ridiculous aggravation. The kids eat lunch at 11:00, so attempting to hold off dinner until 6:30 (even with an afternoon snack, or a pre-dinner snack) became a daily battle. I would try to time dinner to the second my husband walked through the door, but what he walked into was a bit of chaos. Naomi was hungry and fussy, seeing as her bedtime is around 7:30. Cub would be cranky because Naomi was cranky. And, when they didn't like what was being served for dinner, the chaos became a war and my husband, fresh home from work, was smack-dab in the center of it. Tired and hungry kids greeting a tired and hungry husband made for one really aggravated and exhausted Mama.

So, with a huge load of guilt, I decided to let it go.

Last week, I started feeding the kids their own dinner (typically a version of what we're eating) at around 5:00 or 5:30. When my husband would come home, the kids would play and he and I would eat at the table together and talk about his day.

And, oh my goodness, it's been amazing.

The kids are happy. My husband is happy. And, on the weekends, eating together will be a give-in. But I've realized that, for us, at this time in our lives, pushing the event of eating together when my husband comes home from work creates more stress than is necessary. And, since my husband and I are able to eat much more quickly when it's just the two of us, it leaves more time for all of us to end up in the pool, spending the evening together and having fun. Oddly enough, the time is more quality now that we have separate dinners.

So, you can shame me. You can tell me I am deteriorating the fabric of America. One day I aim to accomplish the lofty goal of meals together--I mean, I believe it's hugely important, hence our emphasis on it during weekends and early weekday evenings. But, right now, with two toddlers, it's just a little tough to try it when my husband gets home late.

I guess this was just another example to myself of how I hold on tightly to something without realizing it's causing more harm than good. I'm so much for the principle of eating together that I wasn't realizing that it wasn't serving its primary purpose: Quality time. Now we've figured it out. For this season.

And that's all!

Have a lovely day!


  1. Eh, that's what we do, too! And it works. Or Russell will feed her as I cook and we chat...and we can actually chat, because E's mouth is full of food and she's QUIET! ;) I say do what works. You're still all together. That's the best part of the whole deal. :)

  2. 6:30 is late...you have to do what works for your family. My kids can't make it past 5:30, so dinner is on the table at 5:30 each night. Sometimes my husband is home in time to sit right down with us, sometimes he walks in mid-dinner. We still end up all sitting at the table together and talking about our day, so it works. I think it'll always be a challenge...especially when kids get older and start getting involved in after school activities/sports. For that, weekends are so important, like you said.

    I think you are doing great!

  3. I tried the same thing but it was a battle for us. Sometimes my husband doesn't get home until after 7:00 which is just too late for my 3 year old. If he's home when dinner is ready around 5:30/6:00 then he eats with us. If not then I keep a plate warm for him (sometimes I wait but sometimes I don't). No matter what we always (almost) eat at the table and I either sit with my son or talk to him while he's eating. We probably all eat together 4 nights a week but we always have family time at night. Sometimes it's reading a book. Others it's my husband and som wrestling while I watch and laugh. I think the important thing is that your kids know what it means to be a family. I know families where everyone is always doing their own thing, and that's what I find sad.

  4. As long as your goal is quality time, it doesn't matter what it looks like, IMO...every post you've written seems like family is a very high priority. Every season of life looks different and we are in a similar one at my house too...although my hubby gets home much earlier, so that part looks different :-) Yay for quality time, however we can get it!

  5. Oh good for you. I completely understand and would love to eat dinner with our little ones and my husband -- but there are just far too many extenuating circumstances during this particular season. :)

    My daughter is almost 2 and my other one is 20 weeks. I race home at 5 to nurse my 20-week-old, then my 2-year-old eats... THEN, after my husband gets home, we play with the kids, bath them, and then WE eat together from about 7:30 - 8. Then I feed the baby.

    All this said: I get it. It's chaos sometimes. My goal is to have us all eating together by the time they're 3 and 4.

  6. We do the same thing! Although unfortunately sometimes Jonathan and I end up eating after Riggs goes to bed, because he hits the hay around 7 and I've decided that baby in bed trumps baby at the table if Jonathan is running late! I shoot for a family meal when we can, and know that some day it will come a bit more easily.

    One great idea I read in a book recently (Toddlerwise...I know...but it does have some good ideas!) was to have dessert together as a family. So feed the kids at 5, mom eats with dad after work and then the whole family gets a bit of something sweet together before the bedtime ritual begins. Thought that was kind of a fun solution!

  7. There will be plenty of time for family dinners when the kiddos are bigger. Enjoy the special time with your husband!