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Eating meals as a family

(54 Posts)
Jemster Tue 29-Apr-14 19:36:07

I'm interested to know if people sit and eat their evening meal as a family and the effects this has on behaviour, manners etc.
I have ds 6 and dd 2 and only ever really managed to get all 4 of us eating together at weekends up until now.
I am a bit ashamed to say it but the dc normally eat at the table about 5.00 and I stick the tv on for them so I can do some much needed jobs in the kitchen. Me & dh then eat about 7.15 by which point I am ravenous!

This week dh is away and I have tried eating with them although I do find 5.00 a bit early. It felt worthwhile though as I was able to help both with their cutlery technique and keep more of a close eye on how much they were eating. Ds and I even had a nice little chat without the tele blaring out.

I'm feeling bad not making this a regular thing as my family always ate together and I look back on it as a nice thing to do. I'm just trying to figure out if I could make it work on week nights what with dh preferring to eat later and not wanting to let the dc get over hungry and grumpy as a result.

What do other people do please and do you think it makes a difference possibly to their behaviour/manners if you do sit with them?

JiltedJohnsJulie Tue 29-Apr-14 19:41:20

My DH comes home at irregular times so I eat with the DC at 5ish. If he's home we all eat together, if not he warms his up later.

Do think it has a good effect on manners and ability to hold a conversation, but that's just my opinion smile

HolidayCriminal Tue 29-Apr-14 19:41:31

We sit together 6 nights/week. 9yo DS has appalling manners in spite of our best efforts (other 3 DC a lot better). 9yo is an animal, though (sigh).

the main thing is that we all talk & share. Not every night, not most nights, but sometimes. I like it for communication, not manners.

We eat earlier than I like partly for DC sake.

TheWordFactory Tue 29-Apr-14 19:41:59

Jem I'm sure it is a god thing to do as regularly as possible.

However, due to my DH's working hours, we rarely ate as a family until the DC were almost teenagers (exceot holidays, restaurant visits, family occasions etc).

I can assure you that they developed perfectly nice table manners grin.

That said, I did used to sit with them whilst they ate and chat, help them etc.

MagnaCharge Tue 29-Apr-14 19:42:43

We have always eaten every evening meal at the dining table at 5:30pm. We are lucky that DH is Home early enough for this to be possible.

We don't have a TV in the dining room and use dinner time as our time to share news about the day.

I do think it is important to sit with them and model behaviour. In fact part of my job is to share a meal with children in my nurture group (I am a SEN TA) to teach them this important skill.

ilovepowerhoop Tue 29-Apr-14 19:45:12

the kids eat at 5/6sh and I eat with dh. Dh hasnt even come home from work yet tonight so its another late dinner for us. I sit with the children while they eat and have a cup of tea and chat with them. We eat together at weekends.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 29-Apr-14 19:49:13

We have always had most meals together right from having ds1.
I think it sets a good example and encourages manners.
It is also good for catching up with each other, talking about the day.
If somebody really can't be there, like work or hobby commitment etc, we either wait for them or they eat later.
To us it is important and nobody would dream of eating on their own or with others in the lounge, or watching tv.

HosepipeDan Tue 29-Apr-14 19:52:07

As much as possible. Ds has tea at preschool, but at the weekends we sit down together. I also involve ds with the prep and cooking, always have. He's 2.7 and loves food, cooking and will eat most things. smug mum moment

drinkingtea Tue 29-Apr-14 20:03:11

Can you just sit with them on week nights OP, if you'd rather eat with your DH and he can't / won't eat til later?

We've always eaten together - DH has a massive commute these days but leaves the house at 6.15am, partly to ensure he can leave work by 4.30pm and be home by 6pm, when I have dinner on the table Stepford styleeee, but it is the only Stepfordy thing I do, and I do it because I want us to eat together, so I am unashamed about my 1950s dinner on the table as DH walks in habit

I find it is good for communication and ensuring the kids eat "proper" rather than "kid" food. Somewhat good for table manners ... the kids eat breakfast while I make packed "lunches" and do the dishwasher, and they snap at each other for eating loudly etc. which they don't do when we all eat together... DS1 (6) is still a bit awkward with his knife (DD could handle hers easily far, far younger, and DS2 (3) is about level with his big brother) but I think that is just him - I guess he'd be even worse if he ate off his lap in front of the TV or without an adult opposite him!

Sometimes over dinner one of the kids drops something into the conversation that I had no idea about, despite being a sahm - its over dinner and whilst driving that the kids talk most "from the heart" IME (though you never hear "experts" advocating more car journeys to promote communication and family bonding grin )

drinkingtea Tue 29-Apr-14 20:09:08

I actually have a dilemma atm about the logistics one day a week when, due to an after school activity that one child does from 5.30-6.45 and me needing to be at my twice a week evening job 20 mins drive away by 7pm, I have no idea when we can eat (DH does pick up and evening child duties obviously, and I get home after they are in bed that evening). Should the kids and I eat before DH gets home? There is no window for us to all eat together... I guess this is a non problem by most people's standards then? Glad I didn't start a separate thread grin

LiberalLibertine Tue 29-Apr-14 20:13:52

I give the kids a sandwich when ds gets in from school (about 4)

Then we all eat together around 6-6.30.

I love it, we're all facing each other, no screens allowed, and have a chat about our days.

Dd is almost 3, and really does need supervising at meal times.

Theonlyoneiknow Tue 29-Apr-14 20:16:36

DC are 4 and 2. We eat together every night at 5.45/6pm apart from a Saturday when we eat later and have a take away, or cook something more adult based like a spicy curry.

Tweasels Tue 29-Apr-14 20:21:04

I don't eat with them but I sit with them while they eat. I don't want my tea at 4:30 when they do, I want to have it without them, when they're in bed.

To be honest, I don't get the importance of eating together. Maybe when they're older and it's the only quality time you spend together. However at the moment I spend all day with them answering their questions and listening to their muttering a so I want my fucking tea in peace grin

CPtart Tue 29-Apr-14 20:27:14

DC and I eat at the table at around half five, DH never home before half six, and they need ferrying to clubs most nights anyway. It's a nice half hour to sit and converse with them without the distraction of screens. We all eat together at weekends at the table, barring the odd pizza in front of the TV on a Saturday night.

sewingandcakes Tue 29-Apr-14 20:30:28

I eat with the kids at 6, and so does DH if he's in. We have no tv or music on so that we can talk. We all eat the same meal too: I don't do adult meals and kids meals.

But... Mealtimes are generally interrupted by the dog barking, ds1 eating super fast then wandering off (he has SN), ds3 (22 months) climbing onto someone's lap and eating from their plate, or ds2 knocking his drink over. Plus the usual "I'm not eating that" followed by negotiation over amount eaten and pudding.

Sometimes I would love to eat later, with DH!

Jemster Tue 29-Apr-14 20:34:38

Lol Tweasels, I know exactly what you mean! My 2 year old is hard going at the moment, she doesn't stop asking/demanding things all afternoon I'm with her. When I did try having my tea with them today she just wanted me to feed hers to her so mine went cold!!
Was nice having conversation with ds though. Think I might compromise and try & make sure I sit with them and have a cuppa and maybe still eat later with dh.

deepinthewoods Tue 29-Apr-14 20:51:19

I eat with the kids at 5pm. OH isn't home until 7.30. so too long for the kids to wait, and it's more important for me to eat with them so they learn about family mealtimes.

Is isn't difficult to regulate your own food intake so you are ready for a big meal at 5pm. I have a light breakfast and a light early lunch, so by 5pm I am ready for a big meal.

Artandco Tue 29-Apr-14 20:54:44

We all eat together. Kids 2 and 4 years. We eat around 8pm. They seem fine with this and I don't think anyone would be hungry earlier

Artandco Tue 29-Apr-14 20:55:32

We all eat together. Kids 2 and 4 years. We eat around 8pm. They seem fine with this and I don't think anyone would be hungry earlier

deepinthewoods Tue 29-Apr-14 20:59:17

Your 2 year old eats at 8pm? What time is bed? My kids would be falling asleep at the table at that time at 2 and 4.

Artandco Tue 29-Apr-14 21:03:27

Bed around 9/9.30pm, they are having a bath atm with dh.

The wake later than most and just have afternoon nap later.

Ie today woke 8.30am, nap 2-4pm, bed will be around 9.30pm. On average 11-12 hrs sleep at night, 1-2hrs nap. More sleep than most tbh

deepinthewoods Tue 29-Apr-14 21:15:06

No school then? My kids had to get up early for school, and at 4 were at afternoon nursery so no chance of a nap.
My 2 yr olds liked 13 hours sleep a night.

drinkingtea Tue 29-Apr-14 21:18:53

deep 4 year olds don't have to be at school, and none of my kids has ever slept for 13 hours at any age, except maybe one of them once when ill... Mine go to bed at 7.30pm, up at 6am (if I'm lucky, often its earlier), so our life works very differently to Artandco's, but not all families structure their days the same way, and not all DC need the same amount of sleep. She may have to re-think when/ if the 4 yo goes to school though!

Artandco Tue 29-Apr-14 21:19:11

Eldest has nusery some mornings. But just wake him by 8.15am then. He doesn't start until 9.30am and is finished by 12pm.

TheScience Tue 29-Apr-14 21:23:18

We usually eat together about 6-6.30pm - DP works from home anyway and DS1 goes to bed about 7-7.30pm.

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