Making Mealtime Happen: Dinner Time
Dinner time. Choose one. It’s easier said than done, you say? Oh don’t I know it! Having raised 6 children, trust me, I get it! Like you, we were crazy busy. I gave it my best effort to make mealtime happen because also, like you, I realized that the time my family spent together around the table was important. Here is why; if I were to have said to my children “Stop playing with your toys, get off the phone with your friend and shut down the video game because we are meeting in the family room to visit with each other”, it is reasonable to say I would have encountered some resistance. Once in the family room, after fussing about who was sitting where first, the conversation would have gone something like this:
Me: So, how was everyone’s day?
Me: Anyone want to talk about your day?
Kids: (mumbled) No.
Me: Ok, want to hear about my day?
Kids: Sure. (Eye rolls all around)
Me: (Trying a new approach) Johnny, did your teacher like your project?
Me: Susie, who did you play with at recess?
Susie: I don’t know — people I guess.
Me: Bobby, how was school for you?
Bobby: It was school.
Susie: Johnny’s foot is on my couch cushion! JOHNNY! Stay on your own side!
Me: Would you like to hear something funny I heard today?
Silence, shrugging, and eye rolling!
Bobby: If we listen to your funny story, then can I go back to my game?
Susie: Yea, I told my friend I would call her back. JOHNNY! I said stay on your own side!
Well, you get the point. However, put some yummy food on the table, call everyone for dinner, and dish it up — now we’re talking! And laughing, and sharing, and learning about each other. Mealtime is important.
Are you so busy that the thought of dinner on the table every night seems impossible? If you are, select just one night a week. As you begin to implement some of the ideas you discover here you will find dinner time easier and very pleasant. When that happens, mealtime will happen in your home more often!
Let’s Get Started!
Select a time. In a perfect world, when would you prefer to gather the family for dinner?
Get it on the calendar! Create a mealtime calendar. I’m not kidding. It can be part of your daily planner if you like, but write it down. I would suggest that you do this for a week at a time at first. Look at each day and consider the activities you have on that day. Some will be “Must-Do’s” and others will be “Nice-To-Do’s”. We are concerned with the “Must-Do’s”. Work your mealtime in around the “Must-Do’s” and do as many of the “Nice-To-Do’s” as will work around your mealtime. I know it might be a little tough at first, but this is important to you! If it weren’t you wouldn’t still be reading this. Choose a time closest to your ideal time to serve dinner on each night. EXAMPLE: You decide 6 PM is dinner time in your perfect world. In your real world there is basketball practice after school until 4 PM and Parent/Teacher conferences starting at 6:30 PM. You are home from work at 5. Given this scenario I would select 5:15 as dinner time on this day. This time allows 1 hour to eat, clear the table and head to the school. Your basketball player even had time to shower after practice and before dinner. Personally I prefer an hour and a half for dinner, but it is not always possible.
The next night dinner might need to be served at a slightly different time. What I found was that there was usually a time that worked on most nights, with a little adjustment required on the others. The key is to have a mealtime plan.
Select your menu. Oh you didn’t think I could hear you when I selected dinner at 5:15 after writing that you get home from work at 5? Oh, but I did! If you didn’t think “She’s fallen out of her empty nest and hit her head because she is nuts to think that is possible”, then you probably at least asked yourself “How is that possible?” — am I right? I have 1 word for you — Crockpot! Oooohh! See? It is possible. It takes a little planning, but it is not too hard. I found that if I got everything out or cut up and prepped the night before, dumping it all in the Crockpot on my way out the door in the morning only took a couple of minutes. I also created a sample mealtime calendar and a blank one you can use.
Finally, to borrow a slogan from Nike, Just do it! Stick to your mealtime plan. You might have to tweak it here and there from time to time, and that’s ok. The more you do it, the more incentive you have to do it!
How about this dialogue:
Your friend: That was a great PTA meeting. Now to gather the kids, fly home and get ready for the school program. It looks like we’re grabbing something on the way again. (cringe) Where do you think your kids are going to want to eat?
You: (smiling) At home.
Your child: We’re having chicken tacos tonight. Mom made ’em this morning.
Friend’s child: Can I eat at their house?
Friend: Really? Where do you get your cape?!
Wouldn’t it be nice if your kids were this excited about mealtime? C’mon! Make your plan. You and yours can be enjoying delicious, healthy, home cooked meals and each other! What’s better than that?
Love it! Great job!
Thanks Laura! You have a lot of experience in this area! If you ever want to write an article for Kitchola, just say the word!
Trenton-first off let me say thank you for visiting the blog! We have some great things coming up so I hope you will be back often! As for your questions about writing, ! am no expert but I am happy to share some of the key things that work for me. I am more creative at night-not sure why-just am. I sit at my computer in the evening when all is quiet and the responsibilities for the day are complete-and I let my mind wander. As my mind wanders I write. Sometimes I have an idea already composed in my brain and sometimes I do not, but it comes. Think of those 10-15 minutes you feel you are wasting as brainstorming time. It is usually in that window where my topic is discovered and starts to come to life! I never edit as I go. I write until the ideas quit coming, then I go back and read what I have written and do a very rough edit at that time. Usually by the time I have read through it once more ideas have come and I continue writing. I think the most important thing to remember is that writing should be fun! Too many people try to write about topics they think will interest readers, instead of writing about topics they themselves enjoy. I believe when our topics are things we are passionate about, that comes through in our writing and then our writing, whatever the topic, is more interesting to readers! When all else fails-walk away. Try again later. Sometimes there is just too much muddled up in our heads to tackle at the moment. I hope that helps a little! Good luck Trenton! I would love to read something by you one day!
thank you Freelance!