Wednesday, April 4, 2012


My house moves to the rhythm of mealtime.  I think that this is only natural when you still have very little ones.  The first year of a child's life seems to be broken down into 3-6 hour increments between feedings.  Of course, there is also the fact that all of us here really enjoy eating.  There are times that Max, my oldest, tells me what he wants for breakfast as soon as he wakes up.  Sam occasionally hyperventilates when I open the fridge around lunchtime; he's so excited.  The real reason that mealtime is so important to us, however, is that it's the time when everyone stops what they are doing and sits down together.  It can't always work out for breakfast and lunch, but for dinnertime, we make it happen.

I realize that a lot times, it's just really hard to get everyone gathered around the table.  It's tricky during the baby years, when the parents either scarf down their food at the speed of sound in order to feed their child, or end up eating cold food after everyone else is finished.  I can only imagine the obstacles that arise as kids get older and start having their own schedules and events that have to be worked around.  Still, I think (hope) that if you  start the tradition early, it will carry through as long as you are all together.

Here are four tips that I think help dinnertime come together and go smoothly:

  1. Keep the dinner table clear.  My friends and family are probably laughing at me for making this number one.  At this very moment, I have books, mail, tax papers, laundry to be folded, and more on my table.  My current bad habits aside, it seems obvious that a clear and clean dinner table invites you to sit down.
  2. When at all possible, serve everyone the same thing.  Unless there is a medically necessary reason to do it, I've never been a big fan of making individual dinners for every member of the family. Exposing kids (and adults) to new foods help expand their palate and hopefully deter picky eating.  Obviously, kids have some hang-ups, and this is where clever labeling comes into play.  Onions and peppers are sweet onions and sweet peppers, certain vegetables are described as "the stegosaurus's favorite food," and the word spicy is avoided at all costs.  If, while you are placing the meal you just made on the table, your child whines, "What's that?" and all creativity fails, you can always use the old standby, "That's dinner."
  3. Create some R.O.D. (Rules of Dinner).  Jenny at Dinner: A Love Story posted about this sometime last year.  Rules of dinner just help things go smoothly, and creating them is a great thing to do as a family when your kids are old enough.  We haven't sat down and spelled them out, but we have some unofficial ones:  You have to eat at least one bite of everything, you have to ask to be excused, no singing at the dinner table (sometimes we allow this one to be broken).
  4. What's for dinner isn't as important as sharing dinnertime.  Yes, what you eat is important, but there are days when people are too tired to cook, or sometimes just want to make a meal out of French Fries and mayo (I've been that person too many times).  Don't worry too much about it.  Even when we bring home McDonald's, we all sit together and have the same conversation we would be having if I had made beef bourguignon.  In fact, sometimes those are the best times.


  1. Good post on a very important topic.

  2. We've always eaten dinner together, unless one of us is out (I do work evenings sometimes). I think it's very important too. Unfortunately it's my eldest child who's the fussy eater, so I can't get away with 'stegasaurus's favourite food' with a 12 year old :-)

    1. As Max is becoming more and more investigative, I'm realizing those days are numbered for us.

  3. Dinner as a family has always been a must in our home. And now that our children are grown and (mostly) out of the home, when they visit it's still something we all look forward to - - sitting down for dinner and TALKING! Nothing is better for family unity than meal time together!!

  4. Hi stopping in from the A-Z challenge and am now your newest follower! Love your post today. We had five children and now adding five grandchildren to the dinner equation. Our biggest rule was no tv, phone or other interruptions once we sit down. Dinner at the table was when we caught up on the day. Two questions were always asked...What was the best thing that happened to you today. What was the worst thing that happened to you today. No one could answer that in one word...had to be more than 'Nuthin''!
    Looking forward to more fun and interesting posts.

  5. Well, I'm a teenager and my parents and I still have dinner together. It doesn't happen every night, but more nights than not. It's possible.

    Great topic for D day. :3

  6. These are great guidelines I think every new parent should read. We always ate dinner together growing up and we did when my children were at home.

  7. Yummy for D post
    do check out my D at GAC a-z

  8. i will add another.... when your kids are older, simply making dinner, and telling them it will be on the table at a certain time, on a certain day, will draw them home.. just to eat, but also as a time to catch up.... :)

  9. I am laughing because my table is a disaster. I am now inspired to go clean it off..maybe tomorrow..first I have to come up with an "E" post.

  10. I am laughing because my table is a disaster area. You have inspired me to go clean it off..after I come up with an "E" post.
    Seriously eating together is one of the moments I miss SO much with my kids now that they have had the nerve to grow up, get married and leave me for families of their own. Of course getting together now is tons of fun and usually centers around lots of food!

  11. I love having my kids cook too! It's an important part of our family life - and it really helps when I'm tired.

  12. I would have never admitted this in high school, but I loved having family dinners. And tip number 1 is definitely spot on. It's a lot easier to sit down at the table when a week's worth of mail isn't on it! :D

  13. What a lovely post and I wish more people tried their hardest to establish an eating routine as a family. It wasn't possible when my kids were small to eat as a family in the week as their dad didn't get home in time but we always ate together at the weekends. I'm a new follower from the A - Z challenge.