This post is taken from a blog I write about introducing solid foods to my children – Solid Food Adventures.
I’m continually hearing in the media and reading in parenting books and magazines that family dinnertime is one of those important routines that influences children well in to adulthood. My husband and I both agree that sharing a meal as a family is something we value and something we want to include in our lives, yet moving from the theoretical to reality can prove challenging….
Breakfast at our house is usually eaten in shifts. If I get up early to have some time for myself, like today, then I eat by myself, often in front of the computer. When my son (age 2.5 years) gets up I’ll serve his breakfast and then work in the kitchen doing dishes, or making something else for me to eat, or I’ll feed babies (4.5 months old twin girls) in the living room. If it is a day he is going to the dayhome, I’ll serve him and then try to get babies in carseats while he eats. As soon as he finishes we head out the door. I eat breakfast after dropping him off. The babies get fed then too.
Lunch is also eaten in shifts. My son usually eats fairly early and goes down for his nap. Then I feed babies and then eat by myself, or eat by myself and then feed babies. This allows me a little more flexibility in what I eat for lunch. We often only have enough leftovers for one lunch so my son and I don’t always eat the same thing.
At supper, we all try to sit down together. We usually serve my son first. He starts eating while we finish serving our meals. By the time we get settled, he is often ready for seconds. If the babies cooperate, then we all get to sit down for a few minutes together. If the babies are awake, we put them close to the table to include them. But, dinner is usually interrupted by the babies who need to fed or want attention. I often eat with a baby on my knee or I’m rushing through so I can feed them. Daddy and I are often done before my son, and it is really easy to get up and leave him to finish while we start the dishes, pack lunch for tomorrow, change the laundry, settle a baby, etc. Mealtime often ends with my son sitting alone at the table while I feed a baby and Daddy prepares lunch for tomorrow. I don’t like leaving dirty dishes on the table, but the days when Daddy and my son start bathtime right after dinner and the dishes get left until later seem to better reinforce the essentials of a family dinner.
I imagine the confusion will only grow when we add two babies in booster seats to our family dinnertable. I imagine we’ll feed them first, and then sit down to our meal until they are old enough to feed themselves finger food. It will mean more interuptions, more serving others while my food gets cold, and more wipping dirty hands and faces, but it will also mean our family is growing together and sharing a meal. Sticking with it even when it is challenging will make it that much harder to loose that time together.
Our girls have been eating solid foods for about a month now, and they are sitting up with us three meals a day. Preparing, eating and cleaning up after a meal can literally take hours. How do you ensure your family sits down for meals together as often as possible?