Taking The Pressure Off Family Dinner
When I received word that Blog for Family Dinner accepted a post from my blog (http://writeonjana.com), I was ecstatic... and a little shamed. You see, I had fallen into the habit of picking at food while cooking and then serving each child a different mixture of the final meal (to accommodate food allergies and preferences)... never even sitting down to eat from a plate myself. Nice, huh?!
Thankfully, the "call" to represent The Blog for Family Dinner Project motivated me to wake up and smell the spaghetti... I snagged a copy of The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time at Lakewood Public Library and got to work implementing some of the strategies for bringing people to the table.
I've mentioned before that forcing my children to help with meal prep is a recipe for disaster... it is infinitely easier for me to get them entertained on another project than to have them fighting over the step stool or throwing tantrums near a hot oven. And, we always say grace (no matter how "funny" the dinner) so I crossed that off my list of goals as well.
So, the real battle for me was:
- preparing a meal that everyone will eat without complaint (yeah, right!) and
- keeping everyone seated for longer than five minutes in joyful conversation.
A daunting task, indeed. And one that I agonized over for weeks....
And while we do make a point to sit down at the table together, the meal more closely resembles a cafeteria tray than a gourmet restaurant. To keep everyone safe and healthy (and to minimize my stress level which is already through the roof), our super-dull and uneventful meals contain:
- meat (like ground beef or ground turkey, baked chicken or turkey or hamburgers) with little to no seasonings
- vegetables (again raw or steamed, without sauces or seasonings)
- carbohydrate (although my kids are not big fans of pantry staples like rice, potatoes and noodles so I have to get creative)
To be honest, it frustrated me that I wasn't a "better mom" by meal planning weeks in advance, lovingly preparing a three course meal each evening by 6pm and setting the table with fine china and candles (my husband got rid of them after I nearly burned down the house twice and that was before we had kids!).
But I found peace at the library... with a new title that gave me a fresh perspective on this whole parenting thing.
Seriously, the book I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood is amazing. I alternated between laughing and crying over how many similarities modern mothers share... no matter what their career status!
And I recognized that even if my kids are not willingly enjoying a meal and pleasant conversation at the dinner table every evening at 6pm, they are reaping the benefits of my quality time (and attention) while we are playing games together, riding bikes, playing on the playground or even trapped in the car or house on rainy days.
I wholeheartedly support Blog for Family Dinner and appreciate all the amazing benefits of sitting down at a meal each evening. But I also don't consider myself a bad mother if the table isn't cleared off every night... because sometimes the best conversations take place while engaging in the routine tasks of daily life!
I am a health nut, passionate communicator, perfectionist and HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) who rarely respects my own limitations. Born in Michigan and raised in Texas, I am excited about raising my family in Lakewood (although I could do without the snow). After 7 years as a working mother, I recently left my job to devote more time to my family. My enthusiasm for research and passion for natural health and wellness have been critical to resolving my personal health issues and made it possible for me adjust my family’s diet to accommodate multiple food allergies and environmental sensitivities. I blog about my experiences at writeonjana.com.