The dinner hour


When Tyler and I were first living together, in pre-children days, we would often eat dinner at eight or nine at night. We both had more evening activities including second jobs, and it was not uncommon for me to have a bowl of cereal for dinner, while Tyler had a hotdog a few hours later. When I was pregnant with Soren one of the things I started to think about was the importance of family dinners. I had always had them growing up, even though my three siblings and I had a ton of activities. Dinner was always served, and more often than not a good percentage of us were in attendance. I never thought this was unusual until much later in life. I was shocked to hear of friends whose families ate in front of the TV, or separately in their rooms, or ordered in take out more nights than not.

While I probably never appreciated the sacrifices my mom (and dad) made to get a healthy and nutritious dinner on the table seven nights a week, it became my normal. I expected that once I had a family, I would do the same thing. We probably started making the effort to eat more home-cooked meals while I was still pregnant, as we were home more evenings together. Once Soren was born and I was home on maternity leave, dinner prep quickly became part of my daily routine. I looked forward to preparing something we could eat together at the end of the day. (Although for some reason Soren would break out in hysterics the second dinner was ready, for at least the first two months of his life. Just as we'd sat down and put a fork to our lips, his crying would start and he would want to be nursed.)

We looked forward to one day letting Soren enjoy real food too, and once he was big enough we would prop him up in his highchair as we ate. We'd talk to each other and make funny faces at him - laughing as he tried to imitate us or grab at our plates. It was an exciting day when our dinners of two expanded into three eaters.

These days dinner is hit or miss. As a toddler, Soren has a lot of strong likes and dislikes when it comes to food. We still eat together most nights, but there are often some tears thrown into the mix, and to appease him we too often let him eat applesauce or yogurt, instead of encouraging him to try new foods.

It is also a struggle to plan meals and get dinner on the table by six or so, when I am arriving home from work only an hour before. Our family dinners serve multiple purposes. I hope we are instilling a love of food in Soren, and an ability to try new things. As well, it is a special time of day when we can sit down and catch up on our days. I still look forward to family dinners at my parents house, and hopefully our children will one day look forward to eating with us. It's also why I often light a few candles, put out fresh flowers, or make a special desert. Because it's about the occasion - and I don't want it to feel like a chore.


Unknown said...

I can totally relate! We were the same exact way pre-babies and now that my girls are only 3.5 and 2 we have 3 nights a week of activities! I don't know what I'm going to do when they are older! It's tough to get dinner on the table when every activity is at 6!

Courtney B said...

Eating dinner as a family (and that dinner being a home cooked meal) is extremely important to me but I totally understand that life is crazy! My baby is 4 months old and I'm already experiencing the craziness of trying to get dinner on the table! Sometimes my hubs is home WAY late from work. Sometimes Mia freaks out when it's time for me to cook. Sometimes I forget about coming up with a dinner idea...until dinner time. I can only imagine once Mia gets older, and we have more kids! Maybe the crock pot will just have to become my best friend, ha ha!

Jessica @ The Wondering Brain said...

Isn't that so true? Many people do not eat together as a family. I personally think it's important because of the togetherness and bonding of a family. Thanks for sharing! I found you through Mommy Brain Mixer. If you have some time, stop by and link up with us @ The Show Off Blog Party too!

The Wondering Brain

Jelli said...

I can relate to your family dinners growing up. Somehow my mom always managed to wrangle us all together every night. My husband grew up on the completely opposite end of the spectrum with a maid who prepped food and left it out so that each member of the family could dig in (separately, most of the time) whenever they chose. I definitely try to keep our meals special & a time of togetherness, no matter how crazy it gets sometimes. It's a great tradition to pass on to our kids, one that I know many people would love to have grown up with.