KY Families Talk About Family Meals

KY Families Talk About Family Meals
In 2007, families from western KY sent in their thoughts on family meals as part of a contest sponsored by the Barren River District Health Department.  Some entries are funny, others are moving and some are just great ideas. If you think having family meals is near impossible, read these comments for inspiration. Enjoy!

It is hard during the week to eat as a family with work and kids in school. So every Sunday we have games and a meal. We grill every Sunday (that isn't raining) and sit on the deck together. After we eat we play a couple of games. I believe Sunday is meant for the family to get together and catch up on the whole week.

My son and I eat dinner together every night.  We feel it is important to share this time together to discuss how our days have gone and how we are feeling.  We have been through a lot together during my son's life and we know and understand the importance of being there for each other and how important it is to talk to each other.  My son is constantly telling me that families who eat to together are less likely to have children who abuse drugs or give in to peer pressure.  Even if we eat fast food, we eat it at the table together-- not on the run.

My family is very busy with farm work and taking care of our special needs child. We take 30 minutes a day to eat together and talk about our day at school and work.

You know what?  We just do it.  When you get right down to it, family is all you have.  Jobs come and go, along with material possessions and everything else, but you always have your family and you should never take that for granted. 

It all starts with routine and responsibility. I started with my children when they were young. I have three children who are now ages 14, 12 and 7. As they were growing I would incorporate a lot of kitchen and food preparation activities. That would increase the excitement of trying different foods and having the rest of the family sample meals and treats that were made.  I also started having my children set the table by themselves, adding candles for more lighting or to set a certain mood. I noticed quickly that having the children help in the kitchen and setting the table made them fill up with esteem. They wanted Daddy to taste their food or comment on their tablescape.

We have a small tradition. After everyone has sat down at the table and our prayer is said, we all name three things that we are grateful for on that day. It may be that someone held a door open or that so and so helped me when I fell.  Itís a direct reminder of things to be thankful for.

Eating dinner together is automatic in our home.  We do not eat in front of the TV.  The entire family helps to plan, prepare and clean up. We change the duties depending on time and ability.  This way all of the children get a turn doing different tasks.  They have learned that it takes time to prepare a good meal and have a greater appreciation for it.  Even if we are in a big rush and pick up fast food, we sit at the table and talk.  I want to know what happened to each of them while we were apart during the day.  We wouldn't think of missing family meals together.  It is our tradition and I believe it is a good one.

Place a roast in the Crock Pot with a glass of water blended with a package of onion soup mix. Cook in the crock pot on low all day for at least 8 hours while you are at work. Place cans of whole potatoes and carrots on the counter next to the crock pot. The first person to get home empties the canned vegetables into the Crock Pot. By the time everybody gets home the roast and vegetables are hot and ready to eat together.

We all agree to pitch in and make dinner.  If you want to have meals together it's as simple as making the goal to do so.  Then don't allow anything to distract you from reaching your goal.  45 minutes is a small amount of time to invest in the well being of your family.  In our home we take it one step further, we have a rule that if you help eat dinner, you help clean up.  This keeps us from rushing back to our own busy lives and helps us to show our appreciation to the ones who made the meal by taking the burden of clean up off of them. 

My husband and I are raising three great nieces, ages 9 and twins 10. We are extremely busy. I used to sit the girls down in a rush to feed them while I ate standing up rushing around doing other stuff, taking a bite here and there. My husband works in Nashville and is rarely home for dinner. About a month ago my 35 year old son who lives in California told me he missed being near family and he appreciated the fact that growing up we always sat down and had dinner together. He asked me if I knew how rare that was. Boy, did that make me stop and re-think our current dinner situation. Itís very hard to get out of bad habits, but we are making the effort to have sit down dinners now. Since time is limited I try to do easy quick meals or take-out when my husband will not be home. Then on his days off I try to do something more elaborate. I am also doing cooking lessons at the same time with my girls. That way when they get a little older they can take over! Yeahhh!!!!

My husband is a truck driver so he's not home a lot. The kids and I always eat dinner together, but without dad it's not the whole family.   On Sundays we always fix a special dinner. The kids know that this is the one time that they have to use manners, no arguing at the table, and talk about what ever has gone on in the week that dad might have missed.  After dinner we clean up and make home made ice cream and go outside to eat it and play ball in the back yard.  We have time as a family while daddy is home.  We are a complete family at least one night a week.