family meals in the evening

(138 Posts)
applebread Sat 07-Sep-13 09:48:31

In a number of European countries it is normal for families to eat together in the evening with a proper meal of two or three courses. We sit down together and eat at the same table at the same time with cutlery and we all eat the sametthing except where a person has a special diet.

The meals do not need to take a long time to make. It may be something like a bit of fish and some steamed vegetables with a mousse after or a pasta dish then poached pears.

The time for eating together is seen as sacrosanct and it isununusual for people to prioritise other things instead of the meal in the evening. It is normal whether the parents work full time or not. The other thing is that with a proper meal that smacks are not so common and not normal (so toddler wandering around with sippy cup and raisins would be seen as odd).

From mn I read threads where posters say there is no tlme t to eat together and kids are fed special food different from adults and sometimes it is even a sandwich.

Although I have lived in the UK for my whole life I didn't encounter much of this in my childhood as I always ate with my family and when I was a student and in my early twenties I thought it was just people being busy and a bit rebellious making them choose not to eat traditional meals.

But I know that some of my dc friends have meals from the microwave all at different times and the children eat fishfingers and beans while the adults eat normal food .it is also very common to snack and especially for toddlers the dc nursery found it odd when I asked that the dc didn't snack between meals. I didn't insist on this in the end as it would have been difficult for them.

Aibu to think the uk way of eating patterns is less healthy and ddoesn't expose dc to family conversation and greatervvariety of food?

BlingBang Sat 07-Sep-13 10:05:09

Wonder if "Europeans " still eat like this. The whole family sitting round the table every night, all eating the same food or have things changed there as well. Ideally yes, that is how it should be and it was like that for us growing up in a little tiny council estate house.

My kids always eat at the table but often they won't eat the food I want or I want to eat a bit later. Husband is a way a lot and after school activities make it harder. But, we do eat out a lot together and still get some meals together at home so probably sit for a meal several times at least 3 times together or the kids sit while I'm there faffing about. We also go about 3 holidays a year so lots of meals together and quality time. Thinking about it though, I do want to make more effort having us all sit round the table together.

FudgefaceMcZ Sat 07-Sep-13 10:11:53

Most european countries have shorter working hours, better hourly pay, more parental leave and closer childcare than the UK too. Funny how you'd choose to think this was a moral failing of UK parents rather than a systemic difference, unless it's because you like to pretend to be superior.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Sat 07-Sep-13 10:14:32

We eat together most evenings.

DH leaves the house at 6am to enable him to be home in time for us to do this.

Soupqueen Sat 07-Sep-13 10:14:34

Lots of uk families do eat together in the evening, much as I'm sure there are many families in other countries who don't.

Pudding every night is hardly necessary though.

BlackAffronted Sat 07-Sep-13 10:15:14

Most people I know eat together as a family in the evening, round a table hmm

BlackAffronted Sat 07-Sep-13 10:15:36

No need for 2 or more courses though shock

PareyMortas Sat 07-Sep-13 10:17:03

We do both. Our default position is to all eat at the table together for breakfast and supper. However DH is never home before 7, often abroad or working until much later at night. So even now our Dc's are older its too late to eat for them on a week night so the children eat at about six and Dh and I will later, if he's away I'll eat with the dc's.

Even given that we still sit at the table and eat together, We don't eat on our laps, with the tv on or all separately. Occasionally if we get a takeaway we'll eat in the sitting room.

We all lead busy lives and often it's the only time we're all together. DH and I did make a rule between us a few months ago not to use this time to nag or be negative. We'd got into a bit of a habit of using the time to tell the off for things like leaving lights on, not putting cups away etc and found it spoilt family time. Now we swap tales of our days and have a laugh, it's one of the highlights of family life. Right now half of us are up but dd1 and DS are still sleeping, when they get up we'll have a big brunch together. We could have just grabbed a bowl of cereal but it wouldn't be the same.

MrsCampbellBlack Sat 07-Sep-13 10:17:27

DH generally not home till the children are in bed. Also my children have a hot school lunch so often do not want a 'proper' supper.

They do talk though and use cutlery at the table.

Yama Sat 07-Sep-13 10:17:27

We eat together in the evenings. Eldest child has same food, always has had. Youngest is a wee bugger.

No snacks here either.

My childhood was the same.

MrsLouisTheroux Sat 07-Sep-13 10:17:50

Of course it's not healthy to gobble food on the run but OP, you sound like my mother who retired very early 20 years ago and thinks everyone has 2 hours for each meal. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are simple dishes but are eaten at a leisurely pace.
Do you work OP? If so, what hours?

TeamEdward Sat 07-Sep-13 10:18:59

We always have a family meal every night, everyone served the same dish. Pudding might only be a yoghurt or a piece of fruit though.
Only night this doesn't happen is once a week when DH has a late meeting at work.

littlemisswise Sat 07-Sep-13 10:19:26

We have always eaten together in the evenings. We are lucky in the fact that DH has a job that enables him to be home in time to do so. When he has worked nights and left the house at 4:30/5:00pm I've always eaten with the DC.

On the snack issue, I have to say I have never understood why some children need so many snacks. It is only since my children have got a lot older that they have wanted something after school. As toddlers they might have had a small snack mid morning, but never had anything mid afternoon.

hmm

Feeling quite pleased with yourself there OP?

I have three children and we don't sit down together in the evening very often. One of my children has tea at after school club and dh gets home much later than us very often - then there are evening activities too. I know this may surprise you OP but everybody in my home is still capable of making conversation. We sit down together at the weekends and the rest of the time we have to ensure our family relationships don't revolve around food.

BTW fishfingers and beans are 'normal' food. Personally I love them.

Lonecatwithkitten Sat 07-Sep-13 10:21:58

DD always sit at the table to eat our meals. Not even two courses here. A main course and then a piece of fruit.

jacks365 Sat 07-Sep-13 10:24:53

Exp used to work 12 hour shifts 8-8 and didn't get home till 10, bit late for school children to still be up never mind eating I would have preferred us to all sit down together.

StanleyLambchop Sat 07-Sep-13 10:30:02

Sorry but you sound horribly smug. Different families, different choices. Personally we never eat takeaways in the sitting room, but hey- that's our choice. Enjoy your brunch and stop judging !

SPBisResisting Sat 07-Sep-13 10:30:56

Why do we get these threads fairly regularly telling us how crap we in the UK are and how wonderful European life is? We simply don't measure up.
Oh and maybe the kids all sit and eat without a murmur because they're all a bit tipsy on that wine that French children have with their meals from the age of 6 so that by the time they're adolescents their livers are sufficiently pickled that they no longer feel the need to binge drink. SO much better than here. Everything.
hmm

SPBisResisting Sat 07-Sep-13 10:32:14

BTW I have no idea how much or little European children actually drink. But we get threads fairly regularly telling us that on the continent children are brought up with a naice bottle of red wine at most meals and it's so much better.

pianodoodle Sat 07-Sep-13 10:34:29

This does sound a but like one of those "I do this, why can't everyone else" threads that are getting really common now!

Pick one aspect of your life that you feel you are doing well at and wonder why others don't do the same. We could probably all find something like that in our lives but people prioritise different things as being important to them.

A family who doesn't sit down together might have some other aspect of their life that they feel is far superior to yours smile

Fluffy1234 Sat 07-Sep-13 10:34:45

I thought a lot of Europeans had their main meal at lunchtime and then a smaller meal quite late in the evening.

jungletoes Sat 07-Sep-13 10:38:36

I was in France recently and surprised that in restaurants children are only ever offered the same three meals;

Fish and fries
Burger and fries
Ham and fries

BUT the French children sit quietly and politely at the table joining in with the conversation. The English children were all on electronic gadgets and at times very noisy(mine included).

On balance I prefer to eat out in UK where I feel a little vibrant chat and laughter isn't going to bring forth the death-stares from other diners.

Minifingers Sat 07-Sep-13 10:38:50

DH gets home at 7.30pm. Kids can't wait to eat until then.

Would love to all have a family meal together in the evening, and if DH got home at 6pm we'd do it.

We sit down to eat together at the weekend and during the holidays.

I seem to remember reading that Brits work the longest hours of all Europeans and have the highest percentage of working mothers, so maybe this accounts for some of the difference in how family meals are organised here.

Soditall Sat 07-Sep-13 10:38:55

We all sit down together for a two course meal in our house and most of my friends and family do the same.

I don't think my children have ever had a microwaveable meal and my oldest is 17.

So to me yabu.

SPBisResisting Sat 07-Sep-13 10:40:41

ooh yes. I alphabetise all my CDs and make a really good job of it. I have developed an app linked to amazon so when I buy a new one it automatically goes into my online filing system. Why on earth don't most people do this - takes so little time yet really enhances your children's lives. Maybe I just love my children more than most people.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Sat 07-Sep-13 10:42:58

DS is a toddler and can't wait til DH gets home to eat. Some people work OP. DH and I eat together once DS is in bed. Last night we had a take away in front of the tv, shock bloody horror...

forevergreek Sat 07-Sep-13 10:46:28

We all sit down together in the evening. Both work full time. Difference is we eat around 8pm instead of feeding children at 5pm like most. Ours have one snack at 4pm ( and usually leave it)

Last night children slept 9.15pm- 8.45am this morning. They will nap later

It's perfectly possible, but not if you want a 7pm bedtime and childfree evening. People have different priorities and preferences

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 07-Sep-13 10:50:18

Hmm. We eat together at weekends, dd and I do duriing the week too. DH comes home far too late so I usually just sit with him while eats and we chat.

Would you prefer meals to be like in Italy OP in the last century when oeasant families ate from one huge shared bowl in the middle of the table.

Please don't generalise and seek to judge; there may be things in your culture that some english/european families would find odd. Hoping all your dc say please and thank you - I find it shockingly lacking amongst some groups who have made the uK their home.

Two points I'd like to make :

1. "In a number of European countries it is normal for families to eat together in the evening with a proper meal of two or three courses ... The time for eating together is seen as sacrosanct ... *Although I have lived in the UK for my whole life*"
Presumably then your parents came from another European country? What often happens is that whilst the 'home country' moves on and continues to grow and change, the emigrants 'stick' at the point they left. So whilst your parents would have clung to the ways of the in old country, their old neighbours may well have changed their habits. You can't really extrapolate the habits of a whole continent from your personal experience. You have to consider that your parents might, over time, have become the odd men out.

2. "the uk way of eating patterns is less healthy and ddoesn't expose dc to family conversation and greatervvariety of food"
There is no one 'UK way of eating'. There are many.

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 07-Sep-13 10:55:09

Hmm. We eat together at weekends, dd and I do duriing the week too. DH comes home far too late so I usually just sit with him while eats and we chat.

Would you prefer meals to be like in Italy OP in the last century when oeasant families ate from one huge shared bowl in the middle of the table.

Please don't generalise and seek to judge; there may be things in your culture that some english/european families woucld find odd. Hoping all your dc say please and thank you - I find it shockingly lacking amongst some groups who have made the uK their home.

Jinty64 Sat 07-Sep-13 11:04:36

I'm very glad for you that things are done just as you like them in Europe. Here, in the Scottish Highlands, we also have children who eat "normal" food, can use cutlery and make conversation.

We do not eat together during the week. Dh and I both work different hours. Ds3 (7) has his main meal at lunchtime and is at after school club until 6pm 3 days a week where (god forbid) he has a snack. He then has a light tea later - which may even include a sandwich. On the other week nights he goes to a sports club, beavers and piano lessons. Ds's 1&2 have after school/college orchestra practice and evening orchestras they attend and ds1 has violin lessons outside school so, although I always cook a meal, the number of people eating at the same time may vary.

Amazingly, despite this, or perhaps because of it, at 18 and 16 my boys are often complimented on their lovely manners and kind, helpful natures and have managed to grow up both capable of adult conversation and with the ability to eat adult food. I hope your teenagers are blessed likewise.

Did you mean your OP to sound so smug?

Doshusallie Sat 07-Sep-13 11:05:23

My children eat at 5pm. They couldn't wait any longer. 4 nights out of 7 this is at their childminder's house. Dh and i eat at about 8/8.30 when they are in bed.

We try and have family meals together at weekend, and of course we eat together on holiday. On these occssions they eat exactly what we eat. or they go hungry. They use a knife and fork, they have table manners and we can all converse.

DramaQueenofHighCs Sat 07-Sep-13 11:09:26

We eat off our laps every night! The reason is that we have a TINY kitchen and a TINY living room. Fitting a dining table, even one only just small enough for the three of us to sit round or a folding one, would just take up too much space! (We also own lots of musical instruments that take up a lot of space.) We do however hold conversations during meals and don't sit glued to the tv, except once a week on 'treat night' where we watch tv or a DVD and get a takeaway.

Just because someone doesn't do the same as you or have the same standards doesn't mean they're inferior!! Different people have different priorities and circumstances!

DipMeInChocolate Sat 07-Sep-13 11:09:36

Ideally yes we'd like to eat as a family. I get home at 6, probably don't eat until nearer to 7 by which time its DDs bedtime. Also my DH works nights so we have a brief 10min handover between me getting home and him going to work.

Silverfoxballs Sat 07-Sep-13 11:10:46

We eat together but my dc are older now so can wait and I no longer work very long hours.

It is lovely if families can do this and it should be encouraged but it is just not possible for some families.

Shenanagins Sat 07-Sep-13 11:12:45

I guess each family has their "thing" and this is ours. It is important to us to sit down as a family to the same meal every night.

until recently we got in at 6 and made a meal from scratch for us all to sit down to for around 6.30. It did mean that we had to work together, with one playing with our toddler and the other making dinner.

now that i am on maternity leave with am 8 week old baby, i have now brought dinner forward to around 6.

it isn't easy and will probably have to adapt as the kids get older and go to clubs in the evening.

as i said this is our "thing" so we make it work but other families have their own priorities which work for them.

ModreB Sat 07-Sep-13 11:13:30

We always sit round a table and eat together in the evenings and always have done. We are all so busy, its the only time that we get to sit and have a conversation as a family.

nokidshere Sat 07-Sep-13 11:19:58

Blimy we are barely all in the house at the same time these days let alone long enough to sit down for a meal together.

Strangely though neither of my boys have ever had trouble eating real food, holding a conversation or using cutlery!

ByTheSea Sat 07-Sep-13 11:32:42

We eat the same food around a table each evening. And we both work full-time with a fairly long commute. Easy meals can still be enjoyed together. Since they were quite small, DC have waited until 7.30 or 8 for dinner.

TheOnlyPink Sat 07-Sep-13 11:36:51

We eat together for breakfast and dinner, every day.

But, I'm a sahm and dh is home by 5.45 every evening. He leaves at 7.30am and the kids are up in time for breakfast together. If any of those things change then we would change our approach to family meals. People do the best they can with their own situations. What difference does it make if they get quality time together reading in bed, playing footie in the park at the weekend or eating a meal together, as long as they do get time together?

we ate in France recently, mine ate off the normal menu, salad, pasta, chicken.
The French children on the two tables next to us had chicken nuggets and chips and behaved appallingly.
Op you sound very smug.

ToysRLuv Sat 07-Sep-13 11:49:06

I am an "European". In fact half southern and half northern European, whose family has also lived in central Europe for a long time, and now live in Scandinavia. So, I know "Europe" (albeit not France, which I suspect you mean by "Europe").

In the country I come from lunch is the main meal of the day. My df loves cooking, so cooks often, but only 1 hot meal day, even now that he is retired (when we had meals at school we didn't have another one at home). Dm doesn't like cooking and prefers good fresh bread with cold meats and/or cheese fruit and veg, yoghurt, to many hot meals.

I sometimes like to cook, but I don't love it despite df cooking a lot (granted, only at weekends during holidays, but it still feels like he cooked all the time) when I was growing up. I'm a grazer by nature so prefer lots of small meals/snacks (what's so terrible about "snacks"? In many ways having small meals spread throughout the day is healthier than 3 big meals) to a couple of big ones. Also, I love nothing more than a Greek salad with a hunk torn off fresh, seeded bread and a big slice of watermelon. Ds seems to be the same and dh (half central European) too. Ds knows what cooking is and practices on his toy stove. He also sees where fruit and veg comes from (berry bushes, apple tree and veg plot in the back garden). He loves nothing more than eating berries straight from a bush or a fresh crunchy carrot from the ground after the dirt has been washed off. On the days I don't cook, and have a bread based meal (not a sandwich, because we don't necessarily even compile the "ingredients" into one piece- quick get the crucifixes out! grin ) we do something else with the extra time, like paint or do crafts, or discuss space [smugface]

dreamingofsun Sat 07-Sep-13 11:49:11

yes it would be lovely to have such a simple lifestyle that everyone worked 9-5 and could spend evenings at home eating. Unfortunately in our house my husband is away working much of the week and some of the kids have to work during the evenings, or old people in care homes wouldn't be taken care of or people wouldn't be able to shop in a supermarket.

ToysRLuv Sat 07-Sep-13 11:56:19

I have to add that I work from home part-time and dh works from home-full time, so we are together most of the day and can converse until our lips fall off. We just don't always choose to do that over a (cooked) meal. Maybe we will in the future. As a true citizen of the world I know there are no hard and fast rules about how to do anything "right". There is only what is right, preferable and possible for each individual and each family. Personally, if everyone of us nourished, satisfied and at a normal weight, I'm happy.

daisychicken Sat 07-Sep-13 12:01:05

A few very generalised statements here - especially the OP's!

We eat as a family - always have done. Dh's work hours have changed often over the years but we've always done our best to adjust when we eat our main meal to fit everyone in. When the kids were tiny and DH had to leave for work at 5.30pm, we used to eat at 4.30. Now the kids are older and DH gets home around 6pm, we eat at 6.30-7. If he's away or working late then I eat with the kids most of the time. Occasionally I will delay my meal and eat with DH, in which case I have a cup of tea when the kids eat and still sit with them.

But every family has to do what works for them with regards to work hours and meals - it's a shame if they don't get family meals everyday but it isn't the be all and end all is it?

SuperiorCat Sat 07-Sep-13 12:02:01

Ok so DS at 15 is still up at 10pm when DH gets from work, but it is probably a bit late for him to wait til then to have his dinner, and DD would have been in bed for a couple of hours.

Do they not work shifts in "Europe"?

I see where you're coming from OP (my DH is French and we live in France) although I think you're generalising a bit much perhaps.

I think the biggest difference actually is the bedtimes -- it's going to be harder to cook a proper meal and all eat together if your kids are going to bed at 6.30/7.

We do as you do but then our DS(3) goes to bed at 8/8.30.

fedupofpoo Sat 07-Sep-13 13:00:23

Actually I agree with OP.many people seem to prefer getting the kids off to bed first so they can eat as a couple.true as well the kids food/normal food.why don't people just feed their kids their same food I don't get.there seem to be a culture of getting rid of the kids as much as possible/having them leading separate lives in the uk.different meals/mealtimes and the obsession with bedtime at 7,If not earlier.some kids go to bed at 6!

Jan49 Sat 07-Sep-13 13:04:59

I haven't got young dc any more but when I did, we always ate our evening meals together as both I and their dad were home at around 6pm or so and we ate dinner at around 8pm. My ds had the same meals as the adults from the time he was eating solids. We never had snacks. I still eat almost every evening meal with my ds. To me it seems very complicated to do different food for kids and adults or 2 separate meals.

I think it's nice if you're able to have meals together but sometimes it's not possible.

applebread Sat 07-Sep-13 13:07:21

I didn't expect flaming! I hadn't thought of shift work and of course families have to do what works for them. I work ft as does dh but I start early enough that I can collect the older kids after school.

There was one poster who said I probably had odd non uk habits - yes plenty smile

I don't think hmm at two courses is fair. It is not always a sweet course sometimes a starter and sometimes cheese. I don't spend hours in the kitchen every day.

Also 'European' here, and growing up we always ate as a family. It's something that is important to me, and so now we do as well. Both work full-time, so we usually eat around 6.30 - 7pm, kids in bed by 8pm. I think the big difference though is bedtimes - if your kids are in bed at 6.30-7pm then eating as a family can be a lot more difficult.

Mind you, although it is important to me to eat together, part of it as well is that working full-time, the thought of cooking two different meals in the evening is just bonkers, especially as I often have to work more once the kids are in bed, plus as I get in from work no earlier than 6, it would be more work to feed the kids separately anyway.

forevergreek Sat 07-Sep-13 13:10:30

I can't see how many people can eat at 5pm with bed at 6.30pm unless one parent stays home and the other home early. Or I suppose that's why most eat seperatley.

Working and living in London I know very few people working 9-5. Most 8-7, 9-7 or similar, so everyone we know does eat together but later. 8pm dinner is normal. Children go to bed around 9pm after. If children are under school age they all nap a few hours in the afternoon, and if over school age sleep 11 ish hours at night.

Ours are at the nap in day age, but friends just wake children at 8am, dressed, breakfast and out the door by 8.30am for school.

According to the NHS, 11 hrs a night is perfect for a 5 year old, which is roughly school age
www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Childrenssleep/Pages/howmuchsleep.aspx

AnneUulmelmahay Sat 07-Sep-13 13:14:55

Ofc you hadn't thought of folk working shifts, especially them there Continental Shifts eh.

#eyeroll

Dawndonnaagain Sat 07-Sep-13 13:18:19

I am from a European culture, brought up here, but with Spanish cultural stuff thrown in. My children are all in their late teens/twenties now. We have always had an evening meal together, as they got older, it got later, we all sit down around half seven now. It's a nice way to catch up on the day. However, it really isn't possible for some families to do this and judging helps no-one.

AllSWornOut Sat 07-Sep-13 13:33:07

I currently live in a European country and the only people I know that have a cooked evening meal are British confused

All the "continentals" eat a main meal at lunch and then sit down for a light evening meal (we have bread, cheese, meats and salad).

So I would say YABU and come over as being pretty smug as my French friends' children eat plenty of crap and the supermarkets here have as big a choice of fish fingers as the British ones

BalloonSlayer Sat 07-Sep-13 13:43:06

We don't eat together all that often as the DCs used to have their tea at 5 and be in bed at 7, then DH would have our "us" time.

Now the older 2 DCs don't go to bed till later, although the 5 yo still goes quite early. I am thinking about starting to have the family meals again - the DCs love it. Recently we had my sister staying and we all had dinner together at about 6pm and it was great (and I lost weight!)

It will also be good to make the older 2 socialise as they are getting a bit teenagery hmm - stuck in their rooms sort of thing.

Hogwash Sat 07-Sep-13 14:50:05

We'd have only eaten every four days then as DH was often away. Life just isn't like that for a lot of people, as idyllic as it sounds.

ouryve Sat 07-Sep-13 14:58:12

Well, OP, I've lived in my UK for my entire life, as far as I can recall, and we usually all eat together in the evenings. There will be some variation in who has what because the boys don't like spicy food or rice or potatoes that aren't chips, DS1 has some food intolerances and DS2 gags violently with certain food textures (he has ASD) but we all sit down at roughly the same time, around our sociable, circular table and get shouted at by DS1 because he is facing DS2 and the only thing worse than that is sitting next to DS2

CharlotteBr0nteSaurus Sat 07-Sep-13 15:00:01

we eat together pretty much every night

I'd like to say it was to promote good table manners, eating habits, and the social aspect of family meals, but in reality it's because I'm far too lazy to cook and clean the kitchen more than once. TBH if I had the energy I'd rather eat later with wine DH.

PaperSeagull Sat 07-Sep-13 15:27:36

When I was growing up, my parents always ate separately from the children. My father was a writer who organized his time to suit himself, which meant he stayed up half the night writing and slept half the day. He could have eaten with us, but for whatever reason decided he didn't want to and my mother went along with it. I hated having separate meals. To be fair, I don't think my siblings were all that bothered, but I really disliked it (probably because it seemed as though my parents just didn't want to spend time with us). It is one reason I have made family meals a priority. I love sitting around the table together.

On the other hand, I can certainly see there are situations when a family meal would be logistically impossible. If one partner works very long hours, of course it would be madness to make young children wait until 9:00 p.m. for their evening meal.

catgirl1976 Sat 07-Sep-13 16:07:44

YABU

Lots of people in the UK do what you describe. It's the norm

Those that don't generally can't due to work or other commitments. The world hasn't exploded because some people get home too late to eat with their families and I have no doubt that happens all over Europe and is not confined to the UK

SpiceAddict Sat 07-Sep-13 16:17:09

Well I don't want to bloody talk when I'm eating my meal! I don't get the sitting at the table making conversation thing. I want to eat my dinner in PEACE while watching my favourite programme.

DS is starving when he gets home from school so will have main meal at 4pm. He has schopl dinner, so is fine with a quick simple meal like sandwiches.

Dinner is cooked by 6:30pm and he can have some more then, of whatever we are eating. DD eats her main meal then.

I have mine at 7 when DC are playing upstairs with DH. Shock horror- eating alone is my favourite way to eat a meal! DH will have his at 7:30-8pm when I am putting DC to bed, as he also prefers to eat alone in peace too.

Our DC are small at the moment though so it will probably change as they get older. At the moment mealtimes is not a time that we want to make conversation!

everlong Sat 07-Sep-13 16:20:53

I think eating together is a good thing, an important thing. It can be quite hard to orchestrate mid week though with after school activities, music lessons, DH going out doing his hobby, youngest ds needing to be in bed at a reasonable hour etc.

But I hear what you're saying OP.

madmomma Sat 07-Sep-13 16:46:27

We'd love to eat together every night. But dh works long hrs and is only home once the children are in bed. So we make a huge effort at weekends to eat every meal together. My kids have nice manners, are well fed and can hold conversations just as well as any child. They don't wander round with raisins in between meals generally because they're harsh on the teeth, but they do get to eat between meals because sometimes they get peckish. I don't see what the issue is with a sippy cup of water. So what if europeans don't use sippy cups?

Icedink Sat 07-Sep-13 16:47:02

Wow condescending post hmm

We eat together most nights unless dh is doing overtime then dh and I have a later dinner together after dcs are in bed. Both dcs have snacks and the hv told me thats a good thing but obviously you know better

ToysRLuv Sat 07-Sep-13 17:07:47

Snacks are the food of the devil, dontcha know? It's really unsophisticated and bad manners to not eat at the table with cutlery in a ceremonial manner all the time. Crudites, breadsticks, cheese, yoghurt, fruit, all EVIL <waves crucifix>

ToysRLuv Sat 07-Sep-13 17:10:04

madmomma: Sippy cups are ugly and unsophisticated I use them a lot with ds 4, because he has a tendency to have a drink sitting down and then put the cup down on the sofa, so it falls over and soaks it

murvanutta Sat 07-Sep-13 17:10:06

Wow, so you just came on to brag did you?

I don't get what all the fuss is about food, it's like an obsession with mum's competing, trying to make an other feel bad if you do something different. ( something I've come across lots among friends, in toddler groups etc. ) I go with not making a big deal about anything, food included. We eat what I cook, they snack as necessary, we eat together when time/ work allows, sometimes we eat in front of the TV. My kids are healthy as are my DH and I.

Ifcatshadthumbs Sat 07-Sep-13 17:14:43

We all eat together and all have the same food. It's shit.

The dc's are fussy with food and generally look at me like they have been served a steaming turd. DH stresses and rants at the lack of food being eaten and I want them all to fuck off and leave me to eat in peace.

Tee2072 Sat 07-Sep-13 17:15:56

The only reason we are able to all eat together in this house is because I freelance and organize my schedule so I can pick my son up from school and make dinner etc.

Not everyone can do that.

You're attitude and opinion are very condescending. And rather rude.

LRDMaguliYaPomochTebeSRaboti Sat 07-Sep-13 17:18:46

My parents did the whole 'all eat together' thing, two or three courses, alway beautifully cooked. There are many good things about it, but these days both of my parents are overweight, my mum quite a lot so, because three courses is actually quite a lot of food, even if they're tiny courses, as you get older.

I like a proper meal on the table but it's also nice to curl up in front of the TV with a bowl of soup sometimes, too.

colourmehappytheresasofainhere Sat 07-Sep-13 17:22:32

We eat together as a family when we can. I hope you don't mean to, but your post can be read as judgemental and rude.

mumofthemonsters808 Sat 07-Sep-13 17:31:22

I was brought up with one meal being served at the table and all sitting down together. However, it does not work in our house, children come in hungry from school so they usually eat 4.15 ish, far too early for me. OH comes in later from work 6.30ish and eats, I then take the dog out and eat when I return. We all eat different foods also.None of us touch breakfast because we are not hungry (yes, food is offered to the kids but very rarely do they take anything but a drink, maybe a piece of fruit ). That's just the way it works for us.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sat 07-Sep-13 17:33:04

I love these 'child-rearing on the continent' threads. They are so 50s / Daily Mail.

YY we all know continental Europe is so much more child friendly than the UK. They have seven years paid maternity leave, the children start school at 14 but all are qualified rocket scientists AND existential philosophers by 18. They never have sordid teenage sex outside a loving relationship even though the age of consent is 11 and nudity is a regular feature of children's TV programming. They never binge drink because they've been supping Chateau-Neuf-Du-Pape since they had a sippy cup. Overall the children are politer, thinner, better looking, more sophisticated, richer and more intellectually gifted as well as trilingual.

And it's all thanks to having a two-course hot meal on the table at 5pm.

Tee2072 Sat 07-Sep-13 17:34:24

I love you Tondelayo. grin

melliebobs Sat 07-Sep-13 17:38:47

What's wrong with snacking? So long as its healthy? Me n DH like to eat with dd but as we work full time tea isn't till 6pm at the earliest. Do you seriously seriously expect an 18month toddler to go without food for 6 hours??????? Cos lunch at nursery is 11:30/12 and 'snack' at 3 ish. Bonkers. Not snacking or discouraging from eating little but often just encourages ignoring hunger signals and over eating at the main meal. Take it from someone that works in weight management

Meglet Sat 07-Sep-13 17:42:44

We eat together at home probably once or twice a month. It's not much fun trying to make conversation with young children and no other adults to talk to. I need quiet time to eat after work so try to eat once I've put them to bed.

What I do do is take them out for a meal most weeks so we can have quality time together. They are well behaved in restaurants and totally unfussy.

pointythings Sat 07-Sep-13 17:46:17

We eat meals together at the table, but only a main course and usually something simple as we both work. The DDs have to be up at 7am to be ready for school and they need their sleep, so bedtime is 8.30 - dinner is at 6pm so that there's time for homework, talking about our day and reading to them at bedtime.

However, DH and I have standard daytime 9-5-ish jobs (8-4 and 7-4 in our case though). It isn't possible for everyone.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sat 07-Sep-13 17:50:45

God, the OP has reminded me of meals with my parents 30 years ago. Dreary food served up at the alter dining table. Nobody allowed to miss a meal.

Well, I warn you OP, dont be surprised if your DCs reject your fish and steamed vegetables (I am trying and failing to think of food which sounds more grey) and choose a more relaxed and tasty approach.

wordfactory Sat 07-Sep-13 17:59:15

I think eating together as a family is A Good Thing. I'm sure most people agree.

However, in the UK, professional people generally don't get home in time to eat with their DC. Non-professional people often work shifts. Trades people often use their evenimgs to give quotes and price up jobs etc.

House prices often mean commutes are long.

So most people do it when they can. That said, I wouldn't feed my DC something I wouldn't eat myself just because the family can't eat together that night.

WireCat Sat 07-Sep-13 18:01:02

I'd love to do this.

Except, my kids are starving when they get home from school so eat by about 4.30. Dh doesn't get home from work till 7pm at the earliest.

So the kids eat by themselves during the week.

chebella Sat 07-Sep-13 18:12:36

I live in a 'European' country famous for the 'sacrosanct' family meal. After school, snacks are doled out - normally some sugary baked goods/biscuits - this keeps kids going til family dinner time. But the kids have a nap at school in the afternoon so waiting for a later dinner is no big deal. BTW, I sorely miss the low sugar/salt kids snacks that are available in the UK supermarkets - bosoms would be well hooked if most UK parents could see how much sugary crap is doled out here dailey by schools and families - although there is a lot of great seasonal stuff too, so,all in all a balanced diet I suppose!

Jan49 Sat 07-Sep-13 18:22:06

What's wrong with snacking? So long as its healthy? Me n DH like to eat with dd but as we work full time tea isn't till 6pm at the earliest. Do you seriously seriously expect an 18month toddler to go without food for 6 hours??????? Cos lunch at nursery is 11:30/12 and 'snack' at 3 ish.

I don't really understand about snacking. Isn't it just eating lots of extra food? When I had a toddler, he didn't have snacks and we would have had lunch at around 1pm and dinner at around 8pm. I don't really understand why a toddler can't have 3 meals a day like everyone else. Isn't the intention behind weaning a child that they should move to 3 meals a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner, not 3 meals plus several snacks, and there will be around 3-6 hours between meals if they're up for 12+ hours. I appreciate that all children are different though. I just wonder if it's a generational thing that parents now think their children have to be constantly fed rather than given 3 meals a day and now we have a childhood obesity problem.confused

LtEveDallas Sat 07-Sep-13 18:25:39

DD and I eat together at the table around 1800-1830. DH isnt hungry until later, so eats off his knees at about 2000 (and DD is in bed).

We eat together at weekends, because DD is allowed to stay up later so we eat later in the evenings.

DD eats whatever we are eating, but if its something spicy (chilli/curry etc) I will tone it down to suit her.

I get pissed off in pubs/restaurants when the kids menu is all nuggets/chips, sausage/chips when DD would be better off with just a smaller version of an adults meal.

My mum and dad are the most old fashioned 'English' people I know, but they did exactly the same, bought me up that way and I'm now carrying it on with DD, so I just don't get how this is considered a 'European' way to eat. To me that would be a large cooked midday meal and a cold 'snacky' evening meal.

BackforGood Sat 07-Sep-13 18:40:09

Only English and Welsh blood in me (does that count as 'European' ?) but we all eat together around a table, as a matter of course, with it being very unusual for it to be any different. It's a pretty normal thing to do in the circles I mix in. Obviously I think it's a good thing (for all sorts of reasons) - that's why we do it - but I understand there are lots of reasons why not everyone can.
I don't know if it's an 'English not being your first language' thing, but your OP does come across as being very judgemental I'm afraid.

wordfactory Sat 07-Sep-13 18:40:51

Jan even the French give their DC a snack at around 4pm. Le Gouter is usually a chocoltae spread sandwich, or chocolate biscuit or similar.

FamiliesShareGerms Sat 07-Sep-13 18:43:18

We make an effort to have breakfast together at the weekend and Sunday lunch whenever possible, but it is just impossible to have dinner all together during the week. Somehow my children are still able to use cutlery, hold a conversation etc.

ToysRLuv Sat 07-Sep-13 18:47:08

A toddler being made to wait for 6 hours between meals doesn't sound right to me. They have small tummies that need to be filled often. The "goal" of weaning is simply moving on from milk to solids. Three meals? No. It would be impossible for DS. He is like me and gets very grumpy and light-headed if there's too long a gap between food. Eating snack doesn't equal "obesity". How ridiculous!

Jan49 Sat 07-Sep-13 19:09:14

ToysRLuv, I wasn't suggesting a toddler should be made to wait, I just would expect them to be eating 3 meals a day and not need feeding inbetween. A child who eats breakfast lunch and dinner isn't being made to wait for anything. And if snacking means lots of extra food then it's not a great leap to connect that with childhood obesity.

happyhorse Sat 07-Sep-13 19:13:22

DH has European parents who share your horror of sandwiches and every meal has to be a long drawn out affair with many courses. DH says he spent most of his childhood bored out of his wits at the table and passive smoking as all the adults puffed away.

applebread Sat 07-Sep-13 19:17:23

My toddler doesn't wait 6 hours between meals. We have the gouter after school around 4. The sort of thing the kids have had for their gouter this week are yoghurt and grapes, buttered toast, bananas, pain au chocolate, cheese and apples. This is a small meal 3 hours before we have dinner at 6.30. The little dc have their bath before dinner and eat in pyjamas and go to ned straight after. My eldest has a bit of time before bed

ToysRLuv Sat 07-Sep-13 19:19:31

Well, is extra food bad if it means smaller, healthier meals so there's no need to gorge when you do eat, because you know you won't have to last 6 hours without?

I understand there are differences between individuals. Some do not need much food and don't mind waiting in between meals (you are probably like this), but most people do need snacks. A snack can be an apple, a yoghurt, whatever. It doesn't need to be crisps, chocolate, sausage roll or anything like that.

The obesity crisis is not solved by removing snacks. You can still be obese eating 3 meals a day if you eat the wrong amounts of the wrong things.

wigglesrock Sat 07-Sep-13 19:21:21

My husband works shifts - nights, earlys, weekends, bank holidays etc. We very rarely eat together as a family - my kids are small 8, 5 &2. They have their one course meal at 5pmish.

I eat with a very large extended family every Sunday - parents, grannys, great grannys, aunts, uncles, cousins, various aunties who aren't really aunties smile. Do I get extra European points for that?

Crowler Sat 07-Sep-13 19:26:54

Like I'm going to eat dinner at 6. No thanks.

I feed my kids at 6 and am there while they eat, normally my husband is too. We chat during this time. Then we eat after they go to bed.

There is no way I'm going to eat dinner at 6.

SpiceAddict Sat 07-Sep-13 19:32:57

Maybe older kids can do without snacks but my Ds is 5 and asks for food all day. He eats his breakfast/lunch/dinner too, but just seems to need something every few hours.

He is as skinny as a rake and my friends say their DC do the same! Fwiw I haven't seen any overweight kids in his class or nursery.

I don't know if kids now snack more than they we used to. My mum does say that she couldn't afford snacks when we were little so there probably was less food available. Maybe is was usual to feel hungry for part of the day. Why should my kids feel hungry if I can afford to feed them well? If they do start to put on weight I will look at things, but for the moment they look like they need it!

ToysRLuv Sat 07-Sep-13 19:43:28

Besides, to me the idea(l) of 3 meals a day is a bit arbitrary. Why not 2 or 4? Is the logic: "the less you eat, the more virtuous you are"? Is snacking in fact "gluttonous and a mark of a weak body and spirit"? I have been anorexic, so I would win that "competition", I'm afraid. I just don't see the point (or "virtuousness") of denying myself or my DS food if we fancy some/are hungry. No obesity problems here..

manicinsomniac Sat 07-Sep-13 19:46:52

I suppose it depends on whether you live to eat or eat to live.

We eat to live. I'm not going to waste all night every night in the house just so we can eat a meal ffs! My children and I are at the same school (no father) and don't leave there until 5pm 3 nights a week and 11pm the other 2 nights. On the 5pm nights we go straight onto dance or gymnastics. Breakfast and lunch are always eaten at school and dinner either in the car or at school depending on the day. We also have school and stage school on Saturdays so our kitchen only gets used for 5 meals a week, 2 of them being breakfasts.

I just don't get the importance of food. Obviously we need to eat but I don't care when or what, as long as it's healthy food. Why's it so much worse to have a pasta salad or a chicken wrap in the car on the way to actually live life than to have a spaghetti bologneses at the table before spending all night stuck in the house?

FoundAChopinLizt Sat 07-Sep-13 19:50:36

We usually have canapés and aperitifs at 7pm, light starter around 7.15 followed by a quick sorbet, main course at 7,45 then a dessert with seasonal fruit and cheese platter with coffee.

The children do eat with us, but they don't have to wear white tie on a school day and they aren't allowed coffee so late.

We live in a very provincial town in a lesser known part of Europe known as OopNorth.

CashmereHoodlum Sat 07-Sep-13 19:50:43

With cutlery?

Therealamandaclarke Sat 07-Sep-13 19:52:41

All this talk of raisins and sandwiches and slatternly food consumption!
I need a lie down, a brew and a biscuit

dreamingofsun Sat 07-Sep-13 19:58:36

at one stage my son used to have a snack before dinner (say 4 bananas), eat dinner and desert, and then an hour later have another snack because he was hungry again.

he was having a growing spurt and needed the energy. i think this is fairly common for teenagers, and no-one would describe him as obese...though he has always been very sporty

so are you saying i should have starved him?

I do agree, in principle, with sitting down eating as a family. But not if it gets in the way of work or hobbies or education. that is just sad, putting food so high above other things

Icedink Sat 07-Sep-13 20:01:50

Gouter? You've just described exactly what we call a snack in our house!

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 07-Sep-13 20:05:01

Today: DS has been to one rugby club with his mates. Came home 7.15 bolted food and has gone to a party in town. DH is at twickenham with three mates and god alone knows what time and state he will be home. DD has dragged round shops all afternoon to get the stuff she forgot to mention she needed for school. I had some commitments this morning and jobs to do at lunch time and am exhausted.

Hence buying an anti-pasti platter (yum) and some good bread from the local caff. It's on the kitchen counter for folk to have as they want. I' having a little bit and mainly wine for dinner.

ToysRLuv Sat 07-Sep-13 20:06:26

I think for some people food is a hobby. Fair enough. I always wondered who the hell watched cooking programmes on telly as to me they are dull, dull, dull , but there must be some people who enjoy that kind of stuff. The superiority that goes with that is a bit incomprehensible, though.

I couldn't say that it is slatternly, and a mark of a mind devoid of imagination and lacking in individuality to not make your own furnishings and have your own art on the walls. grin

Therealamandaclarke Sat 07-Sep-13 20:10:22

grin toys

vj32 Sat 07-Sep-13 20:16:40

We only have a table big enough for two people to eat at, and no space for a bigger table. So DS eats with either DH or I and the other person eats in the lounge.

This is partly why I am really really looking forward to moving. We will get room for a table in the kitchen diner, a garage and a downstairs toilet. And a garden that you could actually kick a football in (very gently, but enough for DS who is 2).

Sadly all sitting round a table is not always possible if you live in a small modern house/flat. They aren't built with rooms big enough.

sameoldIggi Sat 07-Sep-13 20:38:58

Yy vjay, we have a table that would in theory seat four, but only if pulled away from wall into middle of room, and with all the toys and school stuff cleared off it. I dream of dining rooms.

sameoldIggi Sat 07-Sep-13 20:39:15

Sorry, vj

sameoldIggi Sat 07-Sep-13 20:43:23

You eat in pyjamas? And go to sleep with no time to digest the food? That sounds as strange to me as my family's eating habits would sound to you.

ToysRLuv Sat 07-Sep-13 20:50:37

sameold: I was wondering the same thing..

pointythings Sat 07-Sep-13 22:00:27

Jan49 3 big meals a day is not a normal human eating pattern and is not healthy. It is far better to keep blood sugar levels even and have 3 smaller meals plus two snacks - you actually end up eating less.

A healthy snack for a toddler can be wholemeal pitta bread sticks with a bit of hummus, fresh fruit and a small helping of cheese, oat biscuits with something on them - we're not talking a helping of chicken nuggets, bowls of crisps or chocolate here. My two most certainly needed snacks between meals when they were little, and now that DD1 is almost a teenager she needs them again. She's grown 5 inches in the last year and shows no sign of stopping.

Obesity is what you get when you feed too much of the wrong food at the wrong time, not what you get when you feed sensible food when they need it.

Jan49 Sun 08-Sep-13 00:00:25

Pointy, I appreciate that there are good and bad snacks and I didn't suggest anyone should be on 3 BIG meals a day. I'd assume breakfast lunch and dinner means 1 big meal a day, that is, dinner. Also it doesn't follow that just because a child has snacks they will also be eating smaller main meals. They might be eating enormous amounts 5 or 6 times a day including meals and snacks. To me, giving a dc snacks as well as meals just sounds like they're being encouraged to constantly eat. If a child is constantly hungry despite eating well, wouldn't you seek medical advice rather than feed them constantly? Anyway, each to his or her own. smile

kerala Sun 08-Sep-13 08:14:09

Don't idolise other European countries I've been hosting Spanish/ Italian students for years and manners are often not great and they don't all eat as a family often. Also the tend to be mono cultural balk at curry or Asian food if its not traditional Italian they won't eat it.

Dh doesn't get in til 7.30 can't expect my 4 year old to wait til 8 to eat.

whatever5 Sun 08-Sep-13 09:27:34

We usually eat as a family but I don't see it as being that important. I give the children their food earlier if DH is going to be late home from work as I don't think that it is a good idea for them to eat just before going to bed.

I ate my food before my parents as a child even at weekends (my parents never eat before 8 p.m. even today) and I don't think that it has had any adverse effects. The main thing is that you eat healthily surely? Can't see the problem with snacks either as long as they're healthy.

dreamingofsun Sun 08-Sep-13 09:31:33

jan49 - as i said higher up the thread, if a child is growing very quickly they require more energy. at this stage i would expect a child to be constantly hungry, especially if they were very active and did lots of sport. under these circumstances i would be more worried if they weren't eating all the time

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sun 08-Sep-13 10:21:08

DS 4 has a Spanish childminder. I was shocked at the amount he gets fed there: fruit and yoghurt or biscuit at 10am, two course lunch (properly cooked meal plus pudding) at 12.30 plus a 'snack' of a sandwich / cheese and biscuits plus fruit or ice cream hmm

No wonder he is always in a good mood for her! I am under feeding him.

(She and her DCs are all slim as rakes btw)

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sun 08-Sep-13 10:21:53

The snack is in the afternoon around 3 btw

ringaringarosy Sun 08-Sep-13 10:52:34

we all eat together every night,dh comes home from work at 6 ish and i try to make dinner ready for around that time,i give the kids a snack when they get in,usually fruit with something else,so they dont get too hungry.

I have had au pairs from france and spain and they both said thts the way they did things too,but later,dinner over there is more like 8pm,but i guess the pace of life is different and they have the siesta in spain (not sure about france)I worked as an au pair in spain and italy for years and i saw it there too.

kids eating something for kids at an earlier time seems to be an english thing,as does them going to bed at 7 pm every night.i like to try and do things the more "European" way,its much more fun for everyone.

Therealamandaclarke Sun 08-Sep-13 11:06:57

Eating together as a family is a positive thing. it's nice to have that time together and eat in one sitting IMHO.
I don't think it's particularly a uk thing to either snack or have seperate meals. Some ppl need to snack and others don't. Most kids will need to eat between a midday lunch and a 7 or 8pm supper. So either parents need to be available and happy to eat at five ish, or they don't eat supper together or the DCs need to snack.
I don't think a daily shared meal is essential tbh. Either for communication or nutrition.
If you eat too much you will become overweight. As there is so much food available it probably makes sense for ppl (within reason) to just eat when they're hungry.
What works for some families is undesirable for others.
What works on a week day might change at the weekend.

So, I think YAbu in your assertion because it's too simplistic and generalising of different cultures.

LoopyLoopyLoopy Sun 08-Sep-13 11:12:49

I'm European (British) and we do as your family. Kids have a 'gouter' (French for snack...) a few hours before a proper cooked meal, with le cutlery and everything. This is pretty normal on both sides of la Manche.

Therealamandaclarke Sun 08-Sep-13 11:28:28

ATM we all eat together at around five or six. Our work patterns allow for this. My eldest DC is not yet three, and I have discovered he sleeps best if in bed by 730.
I would imagine when the DCs are older, with a later bedtime, we might all eat later. I never ate before 7 before I became a mother (other than in childhood).
When in a hot climate DS woud nap in the afternoon and we all ate together at sound 8pm, because it was cooler then.

I like eating with my kids. It's quite fun. I love being with them. I can "show them how to eat" and only have one lot of mess to clear up and when they're in bed I don't have to start cooking again.
But sometimes I think I'd like to give them "tea" and pop them to bed and have a grown up meal, very occasionally, with my DH. This has not happened since my DS was born.
So, that is why I think that flexibility is the key.

madmomma Mon 09-Sep-13 07:25:44

Haha jan I can just imagine how delighted gps would be if parents made appointments to tell them worriedly that their skinny teenage son or football-mad 4 yo wants to eat in between meals. I think the answer may well be that they are active, growing children and need more opportunities to eat than adults.

Groovee Mon 09-Sep-13 07:32:38

We mainly sit down and eat the same meal. But dh sometimes comes late and if I don't know then his tea is left for him to eat when he gets in. He does "On Call" every 15 days so I normally eat with the children then. Sometimes I meet friends for dinner, so if dh isn't home the children eat together and I sit with them with a drink of juice.

Well, it depends what you all do after school/work doesn't it?

There cannot be this rule we all must follow-family dinner at 7pm. Because we are not all the same people.

I have 3 DCs who all do various extra curricular activities.
I finish work at 5:30. DH finishes anywhere between 4pm-6pm.

Everyone eating a 2 course meal at 7pm wouldn't actually work for us. Unless no one ever did any sports/drama/clubs in the evening.

It seems bizarre to assume that your way is the right way. It isn't, it's just your way.

We do what works for us. I have never felt the need to tell anyone else that their children must join a football team or a drama club or a swimming club, just because that's what my children do.

Oriunda Mon 09-Sep-13 08:03:16

My DH is from a European country. Friends of his came over to stay. Kids went to bed 10/11pm. Wake up around 9-10am next day. I asked how they managed at school. Answer: they often go to school without breakfast (which is only usually milky coffee and a biscuit, very healthy that) as they are so hard to wake. On, and they're not doing very well at school. Wonder why?

My DS has his tea around 530pm because he goes to bed at 7pm. In the uk, most children go to bed early so they have adequate sleep before a school day.

My MIL spends nearly all day in the kitchen preparing that simple 2-3 course meal (lunch - evening meal is either pizza out or something similar). She told me that the toddler groups I attend with DS wouldn't work in her country as the mothers need to be at home preparing their husbands' meals!!

MrsMook Mon 09-Sep-13 08:14:22

We eat together at about 8pm. DH is rarely in before 7 and frequently after, but it's important to me that we sit together around a table and have conversation. DS is 2 1/2 and goes to bed around 8.30 to 9, and wakes around 7.30. It may need to be tweaked on timings in the future but at present it works well for us. A late time for eating and bed allows DS to nap around 4-6. If he napped earlier in the afternoon, it would write off several activities we do. Despite DS's allergies, we've usually managed the same adapted meal. Sometimes there are variations, but rarely something totally different.

It's important to me, partly because it was a family time growing up, and my friend's fragmented eating time put me off that concept. Her DF came home from work late, then went running so ate later. The DCS ate at around 6 and their mum had a partial meal/ snack, and then ate with the DF which contributed to her being overweight (and trying to diet). My friend was anorexic. I know what the root cause was, but I think the fragmented, incidental way that food/ meals was treated didn't help support a healthier attitude to food in the face of the other issues going on. I'm not convinced that a 2wk holiday of quality time was enough to compensate for 50 fragmented weeks a year.

ToysRLuv Mon 09-Sep-13 08:44:15

MrsMook: Having had anorexia myself, I don't like the way you speculate about the causes of someone's illness. Also, from all the materials I have ever read (loads), actual food is hardly ever mentioned. Anorexia is really not about food, as such. Finally, if you are referring to a lack of communication or togetherness (or perhaps to the stereotype/classic anorexia family set-up of meddling mother and distant father, which does carry some weight) - well, again, nothing to do with food or mealtimes. You can always eat together and still have issues. Why does communication and togetherness have to happen over a meal?

kilmuir Mon 09-Sep-13 08:50:41

British are lazy and moany. ' oooo but i am so busy' my mum had 2 jobs and always managed to cook a healthy meal for us. My dad worked shifts , so was not always there, so no help with children.

ToysRLuv Mon 09-Sep-13 08:55:05

I understand that for some families togetherness has to/is good to be "done" while eating, as if you are short on time it's really a bit of multitasking. Also, you often need an "excuse" to sit all together, so food is excellent for that.

ToysRLuv Mon 09-Sep-13 08:56:52

kilmuir: Yes, you're bang on! RT, ffs!

PaulSmenis Mon 09-Sep-13 09:01:12

I think a majority of UK families eat dinner at the table don't they? hmm

Last time I visited family in Europe, I couldn't get my head around why people would take so long eating a bloody meal. That, and all the kissing and stuff.

I like a good meal as much as the next person, but I've got stuff to get on with and don't want to spend ages over it.

pinkdelight Mon 09-Sep-13 09:09:51

Ha ha Tondelayo - spot on.

Also, on the healthiness aspect, seems like we're often being told stuff like five small meals, eating little and often, is better than a slap-up dinner every night too. And cheese is no better than a sweet pudding, so don't make health a smokescreen for your smuggery, OP.

Sorry to be harsh, but if you hadn't even considered shiftworkers, you hadn't thought it through very much at all.

MadeOfStarDust Mon 09-Sep-13 09:50:09

We eat together... mainly.... I work til 8 on Wed so leave something like cottage pie that the rest can have and I can have later... but generally we like to and can eat together...

Everyone is different.. I have a friend who's child has eaten a sandwich in the car on the way to dance classes for the past 4 years - ( she has school dinners too) ... I would not want to live like that, but her daughter just got a dance scholarship and they feel it was all worth it!

I think it's very important to sit at a table together eating socially often. The DC do not eat meals away from the table unless a picnic or other unusual circumstance. We never take food upstairs (including if ill).

But before DC2 we lived in a small flat. The only accessible table had a computer on it. British houses are famously the smallest in Europe. If you don't have a table to eat at, you can't eat at a table. One of the things we were looking for when househunting was an easy dining space. We'd have to walk past our dining table to get from the kitchen to anywhere else, which means we tend to have even a drink and a biscuit at the table.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Mon 09-Sep-13 10:22:46

I get home from work at 21.30. Should I keep my toddler up until then just so he can eat with us?

Eating at the table as a family may be the ideal but there are lots of reasons stated on this thread that means this is impractical. so there's no need for some of the smugness on here.

Incidentally my 19 month old stayed up to eat at 7pm last night, resulting in a grumpy, tired and hungry toddler. So if it's alright with you OP I'll let him eat earlier without us.

Silverfoxballs Mon 09-Sep-13 10:31:33

Good grief I have been giving dc some of that fancy Le Gouter malarkey without realising it at quatre heures for years.

SignoraStronza Mon 09-Sep-13 10:50:54

Ha ha ha ha!!!!grin ALL the Italian people I knew, if they did all eat at the same time, were glued to the telly blaring out with Berlusconi's latest mediaset offerings.
Mostly, the nanny/housekeeper/grandparents would cook something basic for the kids (who, if secondary school age, had grabbed a pizzetta on the way home anyway) and the parents would eat later when they got in from work.

MadeOfStarDust Mon 09-Sep-13 11:19:09

My best friend is Italian - if I suggested to her that she eat at the same time as her kids, she'd think I was nuts....

she runs her own business and eats at 9 with her hubby after the kids are in bed...

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