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Family Dinners: How Do You Make Them Happen?

Tina Rupp

I grew up eating dinner almost every night with my family, and always planned to do the same with my own kids. Studies have shown the importance of family dinners in preventing drug abuse and encouraging better grades. I believe for my own small children, eating that meal together would discourage picky eating (no personalized platters) and help reinforce polite table manners.

My question: how do you actually make it happen, especially when both parents work outside the home? My husband works late most nights, and with my commute I don’t get in the door until 6pm. That leaves an hour until my 16-month-old son’s bed time, which is just not enough time to pull together a meal, get a bath in and read together, especially without another parent around to help. Before my son was born, we tried to do family meals with my daughter, but most nights I spent listening to her moan about how sooooo hungry she was while I struggled to pull together a halfway decent meal (her whining lead to wine for Mommy most nights). Often she got to bed late since I was late getting dinner on the table. When the baby was born, I threw my hands up, decided to have my sitter feed them early, and resigned myself to eating sans kids with my husband after bedtime each night. We do eat as a family on the weekends, but for now, I’m guiltily giving up on weekday suppers together. I hope we can make it happen when the kids are older and bedtimes are later.

Am I the only one? Does anyone else find family dinners too tough to pull together? (Phew: Parenting Post blogger Erin Zammett Ruddy’s written about her struggles with this too.)

Plus: None happened to work for my particular situation, but this article is full of good tips on working through things that get in the way of family dinners, from crazy schedules to picky eaters.