Here's a little inspiration for you: Joanie Brogan and her brood has family dinners for 12, nearly every night of the week. I found their story, which was in the March 2010 edition of a local Michigan magazine, through my favorite Google search (um, "family dinner").
The numbers say a lot: 10 kids, ages 3 to 19 (with 9 living at home), 230 meals per week, 6 dozen eggs per week, 3-5 loads of laundry a day. This is a household that must take some serious management to run. When the kids outnumber the adults, you have to depend on the kids themselves, and your partner, to play as a team and "pick up the slack." In Brogan's kitchen, the kids really help with the cooking prep, with the 11 yr old wielding the cleaver and the toddler helping mix the sauce. Helping out is not "optional" or to teach some kind of abstract moral lesson; it is absolutely essential.
As the mom of "only" three kids, I do think that having multiple kids does demand a different level of scheduling and balancing. It becomes almost impossible to keep up with everyone and everything at the same time. What happens, then? Well, all chaos breaks loose, of course. (Not really. OK, sometimes.) What really happens is you let go of your assumptions and prioritize. For me, family dinner is the touchstone in an otherwise hectic life; a chance to remain connected amid competing schedules and busy lives. Whether you have 10 kids or 1 kid, or no kids, it's about making a commitment to what's best for you and your family.
I love Joanie Brogan's statement:
“I really fight for the family dinner. I think it’s a dying tradition,” said Brogan. “Being the youngest child of seven, when I was growing up, [dinner] was one of the only times I had with my older siblings. And with schedules today, we could stop every night and grab something, but we don’t. I really fight for us to sit around the table.”You go, girl! Just another testament to make the family dinner commitment and sticking to it.
Fighting for the Family Dinner, by Julie Becker, Capital Area Women's Lifestyle Magazine, 2.24.10