Growing up I remember my mom stressing the importance of family dinners. It was a time to sit down and talk about our days without distractions. As I grew older and became very involved in sports it became harder to have those sit down dinners around the table, as many nights we were eating and running out the door to get to the next practice or game. But even in the busy season of my youth, I remember my mom somehow making it work that we did often have those times together gathered around the table with my brother and I talking about what was going on in our various lives. I think those dinners helped to keep us connected even when the world was moving a mile a minute.
Now as a mom, I can see even more clearly why my mom pushed and worked to have those times where we simply sat still, ate and talked together. My husband works long hours, so now I too have to be creative and work to make those meals around the table happen for my family. Our kids are still little and eat pretty early so my husband often misses dinner time with them during the week. For awhile I was feeling bad about the fact that our family doesn’t get those sit down dinners together every night but then I realized this is one of the trade offs right now for me to stay home as he is the sole provider for us. So instead of feeling sorry about our current schedule, we decided to find something that works for us and helps to make those family dinners even more special: “Friday Family Fun Nights”.
Every Friday, my husband leaves work early enough to make it home in time to eat with all of us. Our oldest gets to pick what food we have that night, usually Chick Fil A or pizza, and I prepare something that the twins can have ahead of time. We sit down and have a meal around the table, just the five of us, without any TV or cellphones getting in the way. The twins are old enough now that they babble right along with us. After dinner, we play a board game or watch a family movie together. It’s a time that we have all started to really look forward to. My oldest daughter will start planning out her meal of choice, and looking ahead for a good movie as early as Monday each week. Her excitement for our simple night together is so precious and I know that as she gets older hanging out with her parents on a Friday night isn’t always going to be her idea of fun so I am treasuring these nights one by one.
In addition to our Friday Family Fun nights, we really try to make our weekend meals together count. Saturday brunch is usually after our daughter’s dance class and we have fun eating out together as a family unit (it’s even better when all the kids behave!). Dinner that night we also make sure to spend quality time. Sunday mornings may just be my favorite as we usually have pancakes and dance parties. Cranking up the music and dancing around the house in our pajamas after pancakes sounds like something out of a cheesy sitcom I know but it’s a simple, carefree time together that I will never forget, and I hope my kids won’t either. We started weekend dance parties when our oldest was just one so we’ve had a lot of fun with that over the years and my husband loves to create the playlists filled with a mix of Disney tunes and classic rock. Our lives are busy on the weekends so sometimes the dance parties are cut short or happen as we are getting ready for our day, it’s not a perfect formula, but it’s a little something special we try to squeeze in.
These moments that are rooted around our family meals together don’t happen every night for us so we are doing our best to make them count. I hope that as the kids get older we will get more of the traditional weeknight dinners together but even when we do, I also hope we continue with Friday Family Fun Nights and goofy weekend dance parties after pancakes because I know those simple moments will forever hold a special place in my heart and I hope the hearts for our three little ones too.