Thursday, September 27, 2012

B4FD Reflections: Fitting Family Dinner into Crazy Family Life

This month, Blog for Family Dinner founders will reflect back on some lessons learned from our B4FD guest bloggers over the past year. This week, I share my reflections.

"Really? You have family dinner every night?!" It's a question I get asked quite a bit. I sense people feel I am lying when I say yes. That's one reason I love  Jennifer Grant's Blame it On post for B4FD. Her post speaks to balancing the modern reality of crazy-busy family lives with the ideal of nightly family dinners. Let's just say, reality can be messy.
Blame it on my husband’s travel schedule. 
Blame it on my four children’s soccer, lacrosse, and softball games. 
Blame it on my daughter’s passion for viola or my son’s commitment to cello. 
Blame it on whatever you’d like, but my family isn’t able to sit down and eat dinner together every night of the week. But, most nights, we manage to make it happen. The kids are given heaping bowls of Cheerios or Life cereal before they run off to sports or music lessons, but when we all return home, sweaty, tired, sometimes jangly and out of sorts after too long a day, we sit down to dinner together. 
Read Jennifer Grant's full post, Blame it On... 
Jennifer writes elegantly about what could be the story of my day...juggling the activity and homework schedules of three kids, husband travelling or working late, my own work commitments, random school meetings, illnesses or other minor emergencies that can throw even a well-planned schedule into chaos. Yet, we still manage to find time for family dinner most nights, because it is a touchstone and a center of gravity for all of us. I find when there's been too many nights without family dinner, because of work or other evening commitments, everyone is cranky and out of sorts. It's important to schedule in that little bit of family time to keep us all grounded. 

So, while I laugh when someone mistakenly thinks our family dinner routine is "picture-perfect," I am also grateful that we have found a way to make family dinner consistent in our lives when our schedules are anything but.

As Jennifer counsels, when life is crazy-busy, the answer is not to give up family dinner all together. Instead find the happy medium that works for your family. Find that happy place and forgive yourself for not reaching some "made-up" ideal.  Just remember the "real goals" of family dinner, finding a daily connection among you and your loved ones. Relax and enjoy it, even in the chaos!

Read Jen Grant's Blame it On and her other great B4FD post, Ordinary Pleasures.

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