When I grew up, we always ate dinner as a family. My mom always cooked and had dinner ready for when my dad arrived home from work. I always pictured my own family doing the same. Of course, like many things in life that I underestimate, weeknights don't always lend themselves to this.
I don't know about you, but this is something that I truly strive for and have little success with. It's no secret that Shaun and I really love food. And not only do we love eating it, but some of my favorite moments are when we are cooking together in the kitchen with an open bottle of wine and chatting about our day or the latest craze circling the Internet. This doesn't happen so much anymore. Often our dinners consist of Shaun prepping while I get some Penelope time and then hurrying to finish it all up so that we can eat right after Penelope goes to sleep.
It's not very glamorous and we certainly don't eat with Penelope on most evenings. I don't arrive home from work until almost 7, which just feels so late to only be starting her dinner. Because after her dinner, it's bath time, then milk & snuggle time, and then bedtime. That's a lot to squeeze into one hour. So usually, Shaun ends up feeding her when they arrive home from daycare around 6:15, and she's finishing up by the time I arrive home. I take over for bath and pre-bedtime duties. Then it's Mom and Dad's dinner time.
Now that she is getting a bit older, I want to make an effort for all of us to eat together. It's not always going to be realistic due to these truly sucky time constraints, but my goal is two week nights each week to start. This will mean having our food prepped in advance or eating leftovers, which I'm not opposed to, it will just require more planning. It's the only way to get dinner on the table quickly after work and still get Penelope into bed at her usual time. And as a bonus, Shaun and I get what feels like a longer night!
As Penelope grows, it's becoming increasingly important to lead by example. I want her to enjoy preparing food and then sharing that meal with the people she loves. Some of my favorite family memories are of us sitting around the kitchen table, and these memories continue to be made as we are adults.
This weekend, Penelope was enthralled by helping me make a French toast scramble. She peeled and broke up the banana, she watched amazed as I cracked the eggs. And she was so excited when I gave her a fork to help mix it all up. She watched as I cooked it on the stove top - I made sure to explain to her that only Mommy and Daddy do that part because it's very hot and dangerous - and then couldn't wait to sit down together to eat it all up. And she did!
So ultimately, this is a new weekly goal. Two dinners together each week. I'll keep you posted on how it goes!
Do you eat meals with your children? Or do your kids eat first while you and your spouse eat at ungodly hours after they've gone to sleep?