Here is the thing………..
as beautiful and amazing as they can be, sometimes family meals just aren’t worth it.
Let me tell you a little story about my house.
5:30 PM normally comes around and I’m walking in the door from a day of work with with two kids in tow who need to be fed, bathed and put to bed while also needing some major TLC time from their mama. After a whole day of school they just need a few hugs and kisses and “lap sits” before bed time.
So getting it all done can be a……… challenge for lack of a better term.
Now I love eating meals with my kids, and so many of the parents I work with love them too. So they feel ohhhhhh so guilty when it doesn’t happen every night.
I love seeing my kids proud little faces as they try to laugh at the right times and chime into adult conversation. I love that seeing new foods on my plate at meal time (ALMOST) always encourages them to try new things as well. I love ALL of the amazing things that mealtime does, and can do, for my kids and my family. But…..parents, I feel like we know each other well enough that I can just tell it like it is.
Sometimes having dinner with your kids literally just isn’t worth it.
Now hear me out. Because for me, like for LOTS of my clients, I have two options at the end of the day.
Option one is: Trying to eat all together which some nights when I’m on my own with my kids looks like me shovelling food in as my kids are asking for more food at dinner, while they also want to sit on my lap, and asking for a drink at the same time so that they get frustrated that I’m not listening to their requests for drinks, or them trying to tell me about their day in their quasi made up two year old language I sometimes need to decipher. All of which means we often end the day more stressed than we started.
Or …….my second option is choosing to not eating dinner with my kids, and instead sitting with them and eating when they go to bed. Choosing not to eat my meal with them and having the time to listen to them. Choosing not to eat dinner with them but being able to laugh and pay attention and hear about their day, and listen to the new songs they learned, and have an easier transition to bath and bedtime.
Sometimes on week nights, when time is short and I have things going on after bedtime, or I feel like my kids are able to stay up later I choose option one. But when my kids are tired, or need a little extra TLC before bed, dinner on my own it is!
Because family meals are amazing opportunities for enjoyable time…..except when they’re not.
My amazing colleague Cori Stern always uses the analogy of “buckets” your kids need filled throughout the day and the behaviour struggles that can often come come from your child’s “buckets” not being filled enough.
Family meals are a great way to fill your child’s bucket but that doesn’t happen if meal times turn into sources of stress instead of times of socialization.
If you’re finding the whole family avoiding mealtime because it’s getting to be THAT stressful, remember that family mealtime doesn’t have to happen EVERY night to be worth while, nor does it have to happen at dinner.
Try implementing one night per week where the whole family eats together, or find another meal (such as breakfast) or snack time that might work better with everyone’s schedules.
The true beauty of family meals is about so much more than the food we put on the table or whether everyone is eating the same thing at exactly the same time, and I would hate for anyone to miss out on any of the benefits of family meal time, by well…..having a family meal!
I would love to hear from you! Do you eat dinner together every night?
What are some of the ways you make sure everyone is able to sit down together?