It’s been awhile since my last confession (sorry about that), but I have a big one for you today!
My family doesn’t eat dinner together.
I constantly hear things about the importance of family mealtime and there are countless images on Facebook & Pinterest talking about family dinners and how essential they are to a healthy family dynamic. But we still don’t do it.
On weeknights my toddlers eat dinner together around 5pm (before hubby gets off work) while my husband and I eat around 7pm after the kids are in bed.
We could easily do a family meal at 6 or 6:30 but we choose not to. Why? because meals are not “quality family time” when there are rambunctious toddlers involved.
At first, it was really important to me that we all eat together. I would stress myself out to try to get dinner on the table at the exact time hubby got home, so that we would have time to finish before bed. Then I would constantly be up and down the whole meal, cleaning up spills or grabbing extra things from the kitchen, all while spoon feeding the baby. Little Man always wants whatever his daddy is eating, so that was a constant battle during meals as well. It was not restful, pleasant or a fun family “memory” that we were building. It was a stressful and annoying obligation. And it took up 90% of the daddy-time that the kids got in the evenings.
So we stopped having meals together. Now, when hubby gets home instead of being thrust straight into a hectic meal-time situation, he comes home to two, happy, PJ clad kiddos that are ready to play with him until bedtime. I try to feed the kids their dinner and get them all ready for bed before he comes home so they can have quality time reading or playing with their dad before they have to go to bed.
I’m sure as the kids get older meal times will become a great time for conversation and family-bonding, and I’m looking forward to that! But for now our children receive love through playtime, so that’s what we try to give in the precious hour or two with daddy they get each night.
It sounds bad and I’ve even felt guilty that we don’t have those adorable, Norman Rockwell worthy, sit-down dinners together but I’m done feeling guilty. This is what works for our family. It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t have to be.
I’m learning that loving on my kiddos and finding ways that we can build happy memories together is far more important than their ability (or lack thereof) to sit still at the dinner table by the age of two. I know many families that can do it and they have happy meals together with their tiny tots (I have major respect for them!), but that’s not our family yet. And that’s ok. I’m learning that finding what works best for our family is infinitely more important than keeping up with stereotypes and traditions, so we stopped family dinners.
Do you have little “quirky” things like this in your family that’s different form the “norm”?