When I owned a business and had a toddler and was pregnant, I was TIRED. A tired I can not even begin to describe. So began my habit of eating dinner on the couch, wrapped in my blanket, where Bal would take my plate away and I would fall asleep.
Unfortunately, after selling the business and having the baby, I kept up this habit.
Partly because it was comfy. Partly because I grew up eating dinner, watching TV with my family (single mom needed her veg out time too!) Partly because adults, preschoolers and babies just never seem to eat at the same times. Partly because it had become a habit. It was just what I did.
When Brennyn turned one, I knew I needed to stop this habit. But like any bad habit, it’s hard to shake.
Then this past December I saw a book called ‘The Family Dinner- Great ways to connect with your kids, one meal at a time‘ and was immediately drawn to it. I kept going back to the online bookstore and looking at it, reading the reviews. I visited a bookstore for the sole purpose of flipping through this book. Eventually I just ordered it and it was a Christmas present to me from my family. Because even though they didn’t know they were getting it for me, they needed to get it for me.
It wasn’t until Jan 1st, the classic time for renewal and resolutions, that I opened it up and began to read. Immediately I sensed that this book was going to change our lives, and almost a month in, it has.
First and foremost, we now eat at the table, all together. Non-negotiable. I was shocked by how much this delighted Kaya. After two nights in a row, she asks me the morning of the next day, “Are we going to do that very special dinner tonight too?” When I answer yes, “YAY!!!” I had no idea it would have such a profound effect on her. I see her all day, every day yet she needs that full, undivided attention of family time. We all needed that apparently.
The second biggest thing I got from this book is the inspiration to make dinner time fun. From putting herbs in martini glasses to playing musical chairs, to all getting felts and a paper to doodle on while we eat. Granted, this slows down dinner when Kaya already eats so very slowly, but it makes it more fun too. Even on a day when I had a migraine and all I wanted to do crawl up in bed, Bal made bacon and eggs and we had it amongst candlelight. Dim lights for my head, and a fun novelty to boot. Breakfast at dinner by candlelight? Sweet!
Another bonus we have found is Kaya is better at eating what is made if she has had a hand in making it or presenting it. If she gets to dish out her own food or sprinkle parmesan or butter her bread, there seems to be more of a commitment to eat it too. Though it’s not full-proof. We still remind her constantly to keep eating. We still fill up her spoon and insist she eat her bites. “4 more spoonfuls” is a common expression in our household. Some days it drives me crazy, these constant reminders, but mostly I just appreciate that she will, at least, eat it. Eventually.
Since the author of the book is also the producer of “An Inconvenient Truth”, there is a ton of great green options. Most of which seemed pretty straightforward and normal to me, though I sense that for many Americans this is not the case.
Finally, ‘The Family Dinner’ has a ton of fantastic recipes. Like, really fantastic. And simple. I made Vietnamese Soup and Moroccan Tagine for crying out loud. Me!
Yah, so I love this book. Our family is more cohesive. Plus, any book that encourages me to read some Shel Silverstein over dinner that then prompts Ickledy Pickledy rhymes throughout, is a winner in my books. Go check it out!