Imagine sitting down and connecting with your children every day in a cheerful, significant, and meaningful way. Sound impossible or completely unrealistic? It’s not. It’s called family dinner.
Honestly, my childhood family dinner experiences didn’t serve as very good role models for success. We had a five-night-a-week, home-cooked sit-down meal, but I barely remember a family dinner that didn’t end with someone crying. Usually it was my older sister or my mother. Occasionally it was me.
I dreaded many of those meals. They were something to be gotten through quickly, with the least amount of emotional bruising. As an adolescent, my prevailing thought was always, Who is going to go down tonight? Followed by, How fast can I get excused from the table, out the door, and back on my bicycle? That was not history worth repeating in my own house.
As an adult, other dissatisfying dinner experience added to my anxiety over how to make dinner fun and rewarding instead of just a chore. The first that came to mind was the Five-Minute Meal. As a working couple, my husband and I made a habit of them when we weren’t eating in a restaurant: Zap something in a microwave and wolf it down leaning against the kitchen counter.
Oh, and don’t forget the Two-Point-Eight Dinner that friends often complain about: You lovingly prepare a meal for two hours (not counting the shopping time), and then watch it get thoughtlessly devoured at record speed (eight minutes by one girlfriend’s count). There’s also the Silent Supper. You know, the one where no one talks because everyone is in his or her own digestive fog, or watching the game or news on TV.
If I didn’t think of a way around these scenarios, we’d be destined to a future of a million boring, predictable meals. After giving some thought to the problem, it occurred to me that my professional skills as a producer could come in handy: Why not treat dinnertime like an event! It would require cooperation from my spouse (at least a little), planning, and perseverance, and most important, consistency. Oh, and maybe a few cooking classes too. How tough could it be?
So I made family dinner into my project, and the process turned out not only to be fun but truly life changing. The key ingredient was the desire – of which I had plenty—to have everyone stop what he or she was doing at around the same time every night, and sit together for a satisfying amount of time to eat, talk and connect as a family.
And so began the adventure.
I hope you will join the adventure along with us. Come back next week for “A Sweet, Sweet Potato Story.”
Meanwhile, take some time for yourself and the ones you love and try this easy, family favorite – Crispy Lemony Chicken Roasted with Potatoes.
Photos courtesy of The Family Dinner