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NOW CLOSED: Share your family meal time stories and tips with Bisto – you could win a £250 Sainsbury voucher

(152 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 10-Mar-11 10:15:57

Bisto have asked us to find out about meal times with your family as part of their "Power Down for Dinner" campaign. Bisto say "The aim of the campaign is to encourage families in the UK to dine together more regularly and to encourage families to re-embrace the quality family meal without the disruption of emails, calls and virtual pokes". You may recall we previously asked about tips to find time for a family meal. Now the focus is more on how technology may affect this.

We have some questions below for you to think about but Bisto would really like to know what you think about eating as a family, what happens in your home and any tips you have for other families.

Do you get the whole family together for an evening meal? Do work, travel or other commitments get in the way? Do you want to have a family meal in the evening or would you rather eat later when children are in bed? How has this changed as your family has got older - or how do you envisage it changing? Does it get easier or harder to eat together as children get older?

What about technology at the table - do you allow TV on, mobiles or games consoles at mealtimes? Do you have rules or go with the flow?

What about space? Is that an issue for you and your family?

If you manage to get your family eating together in the evening, please share any top tips you have for other parents about how you manage to make it work.

Your stories and tips posted here will be used on the Bisto "Power Down for Dinner" pages on Mumsnet which are coming soon.

Any Mumsnetter can post their views on this thread - everyone who does will be entered into a prize draw to win a £250 Sainsbury voucher smile

Thanks and good luck
MNHQ

zoewiz Fri 25-Mar-11 20:40:44

We try and all sit down together round a table for dinner with no tv or radio on as a distraction. I find our daughter is more likely to sit and eat nicely if she eats at the same time as us and can see us eating the same as she has

nickschick Thu 24-Mar-11 19:40:01

Well done mattytun smile will u buy me a flake easter egg?
please grin

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 24-Mar-11 18:08:32

Am pleased to say mattytun1514 has been selected at random as the winner of the £250 Sainsbury voucher! Please reply to the email I just sent you! smile, Ann

Notnowdear Thu 24-Mar-11 15:09:37

We eat together every evening unless we are having people over after bedtime (dd5, ds2) we have done this since they were old enough to wait for us all to be home to eat. I have such happy memories of growing up eating and laughing together as a family, it is wonderful to be able to share that with my own family now. Phones stay unanswered, toys are banished, manners must be observed if you want 'afters' and for 20 minutes or so despite the constant fetching of drinks, wet wipes, salad cream (did I forget again?), dry wipes and fresh cutlery it feels good, like we are really doing this whole 'family' thing.
Keeping your plates spinning-
Dont kick your brother dear, and how was school today?
Please dont eat your peas like that, your t-shirt's not a tray
What happened to your other spoon? How did it get there?
Shall I fetch another drink, there's ketchup in your hair
I'm glad you liked the singing love but now is not the time
Well just the first verse then maybe, no, those chips are mine
Your sister has the giggles but that doesn't mean that you
Can stop and make a snorting noise, yes I like Barbie too
I do love having tea with you, impossible to beat it
But give me just a moments peace, a chance to breathe and eat it

pepicola Wed 23-Mar-11 21:35:33

We try to eat together 3-4 times a week. I am a house husband so I'm lucky in that I am around to prepare the evening meal. We have a lot of roast dinners because it's a good balanced meal, relatively inexpensive, and we all like it.

We sit up to the table and turn the TV off. A nice way to bring the family together.

MummyDoIt Tue 22-Mar-11 21:36:06

On weekdays we don't eat dinner together. The kids have a school lunch so just have sandwiches or a light snack at tea-time and I eat later. At weekends, we always eat dinner at the table together. I think it's very important to do this, partly because it's a good time to talk together but also because it's vital for teaching them good table manners. We don't have a TV in the dining room and toys and games consoles are definitely banned from the table. I do relax that if we're eating out in a restaurant and I'll let them take a puzzle book or colouring book to occupy them until the food arrives (though once the food is on the table, the book has to go away).

I'm fairly strict about manners at the table, eg using a knife and fork properly, sitting properly, etc. No-one is allowed to start eating until we are all sitting down and they have to wait until everyone has finished before they leave the table. They must ask permission to leave the table too.

At the moment the kids are 7 and 8 so it's easy to get everyone together but I can see it getting more difficult when they're teenagers and old enough to go out on their own without me. I still plan to continue, though.

Gilla01 Tue 22-Mar-11 21:26:46

We have a dining table, but it's often pressed into use for other things.

We try to eat together as often as possible, hopefully at least 5 days a week. Sometimes we manage it.

No technology allowed at the table - even if the mobile phone rings, tough.

Try to get everyone to talk - chatting seems a dying art these days, especially for youngsters.

piperty Tue 22-Mar-11 11:37:11

We try to eat together as much as possible, however in practise this doesn't always happen, due to clubs, working late etc.
At least once a week we have Family Night, when we make sure that everyone is there, and we have a special meal together around the table.

cather Mon 21-Mar-11 21:48:57

There are 4 of us in our family and we always eat meals together at the table. The TV tends to be on at breakfast time but not for dinner or tea. Mealtimes are important and a chance to find out about each others day. My youngest son learnt how to use a knife and fork much quicker than his cousin who is 6 weeks younger as he was at the table with us at mealtimes whereas my sister's family tend to eat in the lounge in front of the TV.
My children take turns to set the table and they don't leave the table until everyone has finished eating.

emiai Sun 20-Mar-11 19:46:51

I think its mostly important to make sure you make time to eat together. We always use our dining table, not just for main meal times for but for breakfast as well.

Theres always a job for someone to do in preperation for the meals too, which I think is just as important. I cook and serve, daughter arranges the drinks and son helps set the cutlery. It doesnt make it a rush, but a routine they enjoy. (especially when the smell of roast is drifting through the house.) Dad ALWAYS has his chair too, which is a bit of fun when he is not at home as we all want it!

I think the worst thing that can happen, worse than the TV being on is someone calling mid meal time. Best to ignor it and call them back later.

margf Sun 20-Mar-11 09:01:18

We eat together as a family whenever possible, the children are involved in helping set the table and putting their drinks out.
The T V is switched off and no DS's allowed, I have there full attention for conversation

LaWeasel Fri 18-Mar-11 15:04:37

We try and have as many lunches and dinner together as possible. For dinner that means we eat at aroun 5.30-6pm so we can fit it in between DH getting back from work and before the bedtime routine. When it was just me and DH we ate much later, but it doesn't bother me now - we don't usually have any dessert after dinner, but sometimes we'll have one together in the evening instead!

We try not eat in front of the television too much, mostly because of the mess involved in letting toddlers loose with food on wobbly surfaces, and multiple plates to move food around between. Especially soup. Do Not attempt to eat soup on the sofa with a toddler. Plus all other types of unmentioned toddler chaos.

So generally sit at the table in the kitchen, with radio 1 on. Everyone does a little bum wiggle when a song they like comes on - probably explains DDs taste for dance music, slows the meal down a bit but much more entertaining than any of the pants family programming at that time of day.

Tech gets banned as and when it gets irritating. I can't be too harsh since I have been known to get MN out while waiting for DD to finish her meals torturously slowly. But generally try to avoid television and eating because once you are already doing too things talking to each other generally gets left out of the multitasking balancing act. Good sometimes when you just want to veg! But makes meals a bit utilitarian most of the time.

Space is an issue. We've just moved house and had to pack up our old table and send it to my parents because we couldn't open the fridge with it in the new kitchen and get a much smaller table. I really like having families round for chaotically large but casual dinners and I think we will end up moving from here quickly because I miss that already after 2 weeks.

Whoever is home first gets dinner on. Makes life miles easier.

latte7770 Thu 17-Mar-11 12:29:50

We always eat our evening meal together. Luckily my OH and I work flexi time so we finish relatively early. My daughter has activities several evenings a week and we make sure meals on those days are quicker as we plan the weeks meals in advance (also makes shopping a lot easier).
We make sure we sit down to eat at the dining room table - no television or mobile phones. Its a great way to talk about each others days and any problems. My daughter sets the table, my OH cooks and I wash up so its a job we all contribute to.
My daughter sits her GCSEs this year and is feeling the pressure - I think she appreciates the time we have together as a family and this is the most important part of the day to me.

crazygracieuk Wed 16-Mar-11 13:41:48

During the week the kids eat together and the adults eat later as dh is not home when the kids eat.

At weekends we make the kitchen(diner) into a restaurant. We put on a fabric tablecloth, placemats, light a candleabra and put napkins out. One of the kids act as a waiter(or waitress) and we put on Classic FM to make it sound like a real restaurant. Before we eat, we hold hands and somebody says a few words like what they enjoyed doing today) and the we tuck in.

We never have technology at the table apart from the odd photo of us eating and the radio which is fine.

Space is not an issue as the kitchen/diner is the biggest room in the house. As a family we love cooking and food and the kitchen diner was a major reason why we chose our house.

Isthreetoomany Wed 16-Mar-11 12:05:40

Do you get the whole family together for an evening meal? Do work, travel or other commitments get in the way? Do you want to have a family meal in the evening or would you rather eat later when children are in bed? Try to have family meal, although it is often more relaxing if me and husband eat after the children are in bed, as they are only 3 and 5 yrs. Also husband is not always home from work in time to eat with girls. Probably eat a family meal together 4-5 nights a week. Fridays I always eat later with husband, so we can enjoy a meal and glass of wine in peace!

What about technology at the table - do you allow TV on, mobiles or games consoles at mealtimes? Do you have rules or go with the flow? The rule is no TV/consoles, although if the girls are mid way thru watching a programme I leave the TV on till the end of whatever they are watching.

What about space? Space is fine

ArfurBrain Wed 16-Mar-11 12:00:24

My Dh works later than me; my kids are older but can't wait until 8pm ish to eat, so we try and make time on sat nights, sunday dinner and sometimes a sat or sun brunch feast.
Sat night - everyone helps make the meal on a sat night, but we eat it altogether in front of a movie - tends to be homemade pizza, or fajitas - informal food but cooked from scratch with everyone helping.

Sunday dinner - always a roast, but we have a silly tradition where one family member chooses the soundtrack for the meal and creates it on Spotify. So we all get a chance to listen to each other's choices. The compiler is encouraged to include some requests from other family members. It is suitably random, with the Muppets rubbing shoulders with Black Sabbath, and Tchaikovsky rubbing shoulders with, er , Elbow grin

Is good for encouraging debate and discussion too.

kiki725 Wed 16-Mar-11 11:51:51

I WANT our family to eat together but due to age of children and work it rarely happens. Twice a week i dont eat until much later due to work commitments and its unfair to make others wait.

At the dinner table there is no tv, no phone etc. Only talking allowed!

Eating around the table is a common thing in our family. Its the time to get together - when possible!!

The kids 'job' is to set the table. Which is always fun!

stimpy1 Wed 16-Mar-11 08:10:05

My children are quite small (4 and 2) and we both work shifts however on the days when we are together we try and all sit at the table together as I think it gives us time to chat about our day. It also means the children eat better and I think it promotes good manners........... as such if we go out for a meal with the kids we rarely have any problems as they know how to behave (most of the time!!)

angrymum49 Tue 15-Mar-11 19:41:25

As the children have get older we eat together more. It tends to be later so that we are all together but, amazingly, whatever battles/stresses are going on in our lives, mealtimes tend to be a time of pleasant discussion about our day. The only rule I have is no arguing at the table! It is put on the plates and they arrive as it is put on the table and there are no electronic distractions. They can manage 20 minutes without facebook!
Sometimes, if I am lucky, they will even cook and it is usually pasta or sausages and mash With the obligatory bisto.

Professor Mon 14-Mar-11 21:57:58

withagoat, am so with you on this!

Hate mealtimes with a passion and just want to get them over with asap.
In fact, whilst they are --moaning about the meal--eating I am actually washing the pots at the same time to make it go quicker!

RoundOrangeHead Mon 14-Mar-11 20:44:51

6pm is the cranky hour in this house, everyone tired and I can only take so much PLATE SCRAPING after a long hard day

RoundOrangeHead Mon 14-Mar-11 20:43:21

I like spending time with my family hmm

just not around the dinner table EVERY NIGHT

withagoat Mon 14-Mar-11 20:42:08

ouryve
ooh er!

I love spending time with my girls and us as a family. Certain things happen in life to make you reliase every moment is precious and i wouldnt want to spend my time with anyone else, and that icludes my TV!

We try to eat the same meals as if I know I will it it, not full of crap and therefore good for them. Yes some nights we might not eat together but mainly we do, and tbh withagoat I think your missing out.

ouryve Mon 14-Mar-11 19:29:46

Some of us actually like spending time with our families, withagoat

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