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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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

northernlurker Sat 07-Sep-13 10:21:49


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.

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.

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