{ making time for dinners together }

My husband and I both feel that meal time together is really important for our family - we want to teach our kids the importance of eating healthy meals and having time together to talk about our days. Now, this isn't always perfect. There are days that I am tempted to make popcorn for dinner and there have been nights when we have had pancakes. :) And I know this is hard when there are lots of kids...This works for us right now, because Sam is at an age where she can eat at the table with us and be part of the preparations and cleanup and Henry can be in my lap or his seat. My friend who has 3 kids, says dinners together at their house are chaos and not fun so they feed their family in stages - kids first, adults second. So you have to do what works for you and your clan.

A few of the things that help us have fun, healthy dinners together.

Plan Ahead. I've mentioned several times how on Sunday evenings I take a look at what is left in the pantry, freezer and refrigerator...and look at our schedules and plan out meals for the week ahead. On busier nights (swim lessons) I make simple meals {well, they are all simple, but even easier ones or ones that are prepared ahead of time.}

I get a lot of questions about how we have dinners together and whether or not we do takeout. First of all, we occasionally eat out or pick up healthy food to bring home {we NEVER eat fast food}...there is a Mexican restaurant in Durango we love, Zia, and we eat there once every week or two.

Plan to be home. We try to limit evening activities so that we are home most nights together.

Music. We love to play music during dinner and then after dinner Sam has a dance party in the kitchen while we clean up. We generally put our ipod on with a radio station from pandora {the best thing since sliced bread}.

Help. While I am working on dinner, Sam helps by setting the table and after dinner Will has clean-up duty.

Apron. I know some of you who know me are laughing - Jenny, an apron, really? But I love to wear aprons! They remind me of my grandmother in the kitchen and help me feel more domesticated! :) I have 6 different ones.

Simple. I am not a talented cook. I'm just not. I don't LOVE (more than anything else) cooking and I'm not that great at it, so I stick to things I know what I'm doing with. We eat lots of fish (wild salmon), free-range chicken, grass fed beef - on the grill. And lots of salads and veggies and brown rice. I can start the rice in the rice cooker, throw fish or meat on the grill and heat up some frozen veggies in less than 20 minutes. I usually make a batch of healthy casserole or turkey chili on the weekend and use that one or 2 nights during the week. We also will have whole wheat pasta with fresh veggies and a large salad for an easy dinner one night.

Special Glasses. We have special mini glasses and goblets for Sam that I found a few years ago at a thrift store that she drinks her milk out of. It helps her feel grown-up and she enjoys drinking her milk out of nice glasses.

Cloth Napkins. It adds a nice touch to meal-time plus they don't have to get thrown away.

Candles. We usually light candles during dinner, take turns saying what we are grateful for and at the end of dinner Sam blows out the candles and makes a wish {adorable}.

Talk. Don't forget to talk to one another. I know this seems obvious but I am surprised at how many people don't really talk and listen during meals to one another.

Slow down. Don't rush. Don't start cleaning up while your family is still eating. Just slow down, eat slowly, and savor the time together.

How do all of you do family meal's together?


Mom Taxi Julie said...

We USED to eat all together at the table. Now my husband commutes and so everyone would starve by the time he got home. Child #2 hardly eats anything and Child #3 only eats a bit more than Child #2. Child #1 is always "somewhere".

tracie said...

jenny, i LOVE this and completely agree! we {as families} are so busy, that i think it's important to have a time when everyone can look forward to, and count on connecting.

now, i just need to work on what i'm feeding them ... :)

LobotoME said...

Julie - would breakfast work together or friday night dinners?

j :)

Anonymous said...

Family dinners are a must for us as well. It can be hard to work around my husband's schedule, but even if he isn't home, whoever is eats dinner sitting at the table. My kids don't know anything different. I am fortunate that I enjoy cooking and totally agree about the apron thing. I love wearing aprons. I am totally going to get some special cups and candles, my girls would dig that!

heather said...

We just started eating dinners together and I love it! My daughter and I have started having breakfast together at the table too after everyone is gone to school and work. It's nice to reconnect and it's really fun to listen to my 5 year-old ask the questions about everyone's day! :-)

The healthy eating part...I'm not so good at, but you never know! :-)

Katie said...

Jenny! I was one of those who thought, "Jenny in an apron?!" but I think it is so nice that you do that! I should wear my one and only more often! Thanks for the continued inspiration. I would say we are pretty good at sitting together and eating a meal. It's sometimes hard to talk, as we are exhausted from our day, but we try to do the "3 Things" which is nice and simple-1 thing we learned, 1 thing that was great, and 1 thing that was not so great. That way it isn't all just about something negative that happened at work, or about your daily routine, rather it makes you somewhat reflect on the day(short and sweet!). I too, use my "Feed ME" pad every Sunday morning!!! It's a godsend!

Lori's Family said...

I was so happy you mentioned the apron. One of my new years resolutions was to make healthy dinners for my family. For some reason I put on that cute apron and I feel like cooking:-)

Anonymous said...

love this too. wearing an apron is nice and saves your clothes.

we are bringing family dinners back with saying no to other dinner time activities