I was introduced to The Family Dinner book last year by my sister and Ali. I devoured the book – literally inhaled it in my first sitting. I have since probably read it 5 times. I’m passionate about spending time with my children and husband, knowing what is going on in their lives, and food. So this book was right up my alley.
I worked tirelessly trying to figure out a regular dinnertime schedule but became frustrated. Beyond frustrated. Then finally the guilt settled in and I felt like the worst mother in the world. You see, our schedule is different due to 2 things, my work schedule and the kid’s swimming/baseball schedules.
I work 12 hour shifts. At the time I worked 8 am to 8:30 pm two days a week and the kids had swimming and baseball until 7:45 pm. The kids were unable to wait until 8:30 to eat dinner all together.
And yes, sports are important to our family. Period. No apologies. No guilt. Our kids play ONE sport each. The girls swim and Ben plays whatever sport rotates with the normal local league schedule (football, basketball, and then baseball). Jeff and I were competitive athletes and we credit a large part of who we are to the discipline and the relationships formed as a result of golf and swimming.
So we adapted and had Family Breakfasts during the school year. The kids get up and are ready for school by 6:30 am. We sit at the table and have a big breakfast every morning all together. We clean up at 7:30 and then Jeff takes the kids to school at 7:40 am and I head to work. We love breakfast and we eat well. Eggs, bacon, waffles, pancakes, yogurt, tons of fruit, blended shakes with greens, pastries, monkey bread, muffins, etc.
We end the day with Happy Hour from 8:00 to 9 pm. We typically eat fruit/dessert and get the highlights from swimming/baseball from the kids. No more hurried moments to get the kids fed or making kids wait to eat until late at night.
This summer we adapted one more time and we are eating our big meal at lunch. The older kids wanted to sleep in more and Jeff is able to come home for lunch. It’s been fun coming up with new recipes and the kids have been heavily involved in cooking and baking with me. And I LOVE this!
I understand this isn’t a schedule for everyone. But it works for us. I have found that with 2 working parents and 3 of the 4 kids being involved in sports, flexibility is key. But we don’t sacrifice family mealtime as we are intentional about making eating together a priority. The flexibility for us is that family mealtime doesn’t have to be dinnertime exclusively.
And remember the guilt? Well I threw that out. I actually love this now. I have tons of breakfast recipes and my lunch recipe arsenal is now growing.
As soon as I stopped comparing myself to the mythical Cleavers who have the perfect schedule I freed myself to be creative and find the best solution for our family. So let me encourage you to be intentional to find YOUR time with your family to break bread together. If it’s dinner for your family, then great! But those Cleavers … they don’t exist. I know you think they do, but they don’t.
And while you are working out your meal schedule, try this delicious summer salad. It’s one of our favorites!
Chicken and Rice Salad
Small box of Rice-A-Roni (I used chicken flavor with vermicelli) – prepare and let cool
One sliced avocado
1 medium purple onion rings
Small can sliced or whole black olives
1 head romaine lettuce torn into bite sized pieces
3 to 4 grilled chicken breasts (sliced and cooled)
Pineapple – cut into bite sized pieces
1 tomato wedged or chopped (I substituted 2 roma tomatoes that I had on hand)
1/2 cucumber peeled and sliced
Dressing: Bernstein’s Cheese Fantastico or Girard’s Champagne Dressing
Toss in dressing and serve. This recipe can be prepared ahead of time with having the rice, chicken, and almonds prepared the night before. Enjoy!
This was a perfect recipe to put everyone to work and have a part of making our lunch together. As you can see in the picture above, we eat many meals where you assemble your own salad/meal. Our rule, you must have one piece of everything. Then if you want more, go for it. As long as you eat one of everything first.
Blessings sweet friends – Jenny
Remember the next photography link up will be this Friday, June 15th.
The next 5 pictures will be:
1. Something you can’t live without.
2. A favorite snack.
3. Your ride.
4. Weekend routine.
5. A place you get your food.
You can read about it more here.