Evolution Of The Family Meal

When we bought our house we were intentional by not putting a television upstairs. People visit and comment on the fact that the television is missing. We had three young sons and we wanted to make sure that family meal time stayed sacred. We knew that a television would be stiff competition for our attention. Little did I know how quickly the television would no longer be considered our major struggle.

 

There was sports! Our meal time evolved once our boys were involved in sports. No longer was 6:00 our dinner hour, but rather anytime between 4:30 and 8:00 as the boys grew. Activities became the main rival for our time as a family. We still managed to sneak in a quick family meal with all five of us around the table, but it was rare. I had to learn to prepare a meal that could be prepared quickly or sit in a crock pot. I was usually running one kid to an activity while another one was at home doing homework waiting for me to come home so that I could run him to his activity.

 

I was the queen of the taxi service. I called my car an expensive garbage can on wheels as many nights I would take a boy through drive through and they would eat in-between activities.  My dad was amazed at how many miles I put on my car just from in town driving. The car became our dinner table. The car is where I would hear how the day went. The car is where I would hear about the issue with friends. I was with the boys actively listening and that was all that mattered.

 

But then my oldest got his driver’s license and we saw less and less of him. I was no longer driving him to activities. I was no longer driving him to school halfway across town. Gone were those conversations in the car. School activities and sports as well as a job kept him away from home most evenings at dinner time. We became a disjointed family trying to have dinner.

 

Then the middle son got his driver’s license and we began to see less and less of him. I still tried my hardest to make family dinner time a priority. I started cooking more interesting meals. I tried new cook books and recipes hoping that it would be the siren song back home. And in many ways it worked. When the boys began dating, the girls would often be at our house and our dinner table began to grow. And I loved it.

 

Soon my oldest left for college. Gone was my adventurous eater who could eat several helpings of food. It was no longer fun to cook as half of what I prepared was now leftovers. I began cooking the same things that I knew our other, fussier eaters would eat. Dinner time became mundane and routine. My middle son’s girlfriend would tease me when my oldest came home from college that now we were going to eat great food. But it was true. I knew that he would eat and be grateful for the meal so I would once again prepare elaborate meals.

 

As the time approached for my middle son to leave for college I realized that we were once again going to be in for a major life change. He too was active his last year of high school and we rarely saw him. But we waited until he got home as he was the last one to usually arrive. We would then eat at the same time. I knew that our meals were numbered and I made them count. My husband and I were busy working and usually nobody made dinner. So we would find ourselves eating at a restaurant, but that was ok as we were together and that was what mattered.

 

Now we have our youngest home. I now schedule meal time around his schedule. He tells me what time he is going to be home and we wait to eat with him. The first thing he says when he walks through the door is “what’s for dinner?” I know in a blink of an eye he too will be gone and it will just be my husband and I wondering where the time went and having conversations about why we don’t have a television upstairs.

 

So when families have issues with kids and adults being on their cell phones during the family meal, I beg of you, take those phones away! As that is the same issue we had with deciding to not put a television upstairs. Put a basket in the kitchen where everyone places their phones during dinner. You don’t want to miss out on the family meal time because that time is fleeting and magical. Let your kids be mad at you because when they are older they will remember the dinner table conversations not the latest topic on reddit!

 

To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,

 

MS. Simplicity

 

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