Can a too-busy family with a dinner-discouraged mom actually sit down to a home-cooked meal on a regular basis?
So far, the answer seems to be that with a little more planning and a little less denial, YES they can!
Tim and I had a discussion about this subject on Friday night. I've known that it would be nice for the family to have dinner together more. And I've heard all the parenting experts talk about how important it is to eat together. Over the years, though, I've let some circumstances get in the way of making dinners a priority. The roadblocks?
- Two kids who practice gymnastics 4 (Tucker) and 5 (Austin) nights a week and are not home at dinnertime.
- A mom who transports those kids (30 minutes round trip) once or twice a day.
- A husband who comes home sometime between 4:00 and 7:30, depending on what's happening at work.
- A husband who sometimes likes to workout before eating, and sometimes likes to workout after eating.
- A wife who feels like cooking is a lot of work and it just creates a big mess for her to clean up, and who honestly is just fine with a nice bowl of cereal whose name is dinner!
Put those all together, and dinners together become a thing of the past, unless they're eaten out.
There are some circumstances that work in my favor:
- I am a good cook.
- I enjoy the process of cooking once I actually get into it.
- I have lots of good cookbooks with lots of good recipes.
Well, so far, so good. Sunday night was a Mexican cornbread casserole. Monday was twice baked potatoes with broccoli & cheese. Tuesday was baked ziti (from the Nordstrom Family & Friends cookbook -- SO yummy!). Last night was our worst dinner of the week, but it was because Austin had to be at gymnastics at 5:00, Tucker had church at 6:30, and we had Bible study at 6:30. I picked up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and we had that and salad and good bread. But I did make guacamole for the kids as a snack, and also made them smoothies.
A few random things that are helping with dinners for me:
- Cloth napkins. I have some in really great colors (what a surprise!) and they make dinner feel nicer to me.
- Music. We have a playlist on iTunes on the kitchen computer titled "Family Dinner." It makes the time feel so nice. We all contributed to the songs in the list (and Austin published the list on iTunes as "Family dinner!").
- Setting the table early. Just having that done makes it feel like dinner's going to happen, and that's good.