There are countless articles explaining why family dinner time is important to the health of a family. But two years ago, my family made the decision to stop eating together.
It seems crazy, but we actually did this to make our family stronger. We have two small kids who aren’t great at sitting still. Any one who has ever eaten with a two year old knows that mealtime with a little one isn’t fun and games. It’s messy, stressful and not a great environment for connecting with any one.
My husband works long hours so he ends up getting around one full hours with our kids every day. Now sure, we could spend this time around a dinner table, doing the stereotypical family thing. There was certainly a time I would stress myself out trying to get dinner on the table the minute my husband walked through the door. This was the only way we could finish the meal before the kids have to get ready for bed.
Eating with littles means that one or both parents end up getting up and down to clean up spills, grab some extra dip or spoon feed the baby.
The kids relentlessly try to eat the food form mommy and daddy’s plates and it becomes a battle instead of a picturesque dinner.
When we do dinners together, it takes up 90% of the time the kids get to spend with their daddy every night.
So we stopped having meals together. When my husband 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 feed the kids their dinner and get them all ready for bed before he comes home so they can have quality time reading, playing and wrestling with their dad before they have to go to bed.
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. Those few precious minutes that the four of us have together are filled with fun, not dinner drama.
Stopping family dinner time isn’t what you’d expect from a family that is actively trying to grow together, but I’m done feeling guilty that we don’t have those wonderful, Norman Rockwell-worthy dinners. This is what works for our family. It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t have to be.
I’m learning that loving on our kids 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. Those are skills that come with age, and I’m honestly not concerned if my toddler’s aren’t capable of sitting still or mastered table etiquette. Those things can come with time and finding what works best for our family is infinitely more important than keeping up with stereotypes and traditions.
Are there cultural norms that your family completely ignores? Is your family ready to abandon the family dinner concept (for now, at least)?
If you need to hit the reset button…
If you feel like you need to hit the rest button with your family right now, I want to invite you to join a free family reset challenge from one of my partners.
This challenge is FULL of positive and fun resources and activities that will help you reconnect as a family and go back to laughing and enjoying each other…yes, even after a tantrum filled day with the toddler! I love it so much, and it’s my joy to offer the Family Reset Challenge to you for free! (My friend who is hosting the challenge does have a number of paid resources for moms, which I will earn a commission on if you choose to make a purchase at a later time.).
Are you ready to reconnect? Sign up for the Family Reset Challenge today!!!