Meal time madness

How to conquer the insanity of family meal time

I had a little giddy moment today. I was approached by multiple friends about what they’ve seen here on MM, which means someone other than my mother is reading what I write! (Not that I am any less excited about you reading this, Mom.) And what did I hear from these sweet friends? Some awesome food for thought, actually. My aim in contributing all this prattle to the void that is the internet was more than just finding a creative outlet…it was about establishing a REAL approach to the mama lifestyle.

The secret to meal-time sanity is doing what works for you, mama.
Sometimes this is us after a hard day. Or an easy day. It’s just real.

It’s funny to me. We can pass through life as squatters on each other’s livelihoods. We’re silent observers. We see each other, but we don’t really KNOW what’s happening. I am super guilty of this. I see what someone else’s life appears to be, and I fill in what I don’t know with my own assumptions. So of course, that well-put-together, clean-eating, fit and healthy mama is always on top of it. Of course her well-groomed children in their Matilda Jane clothes are always perfect little angels. And my loud, wrinkly-clothed children, who can’t brush their hair, let alone keep a bow in it, are the exception vs. the norm. So when I heard other moms today talking about the stress of fixing multiple meals every night or how they would get dinner that tastes good for both parents and children on the table before 8:00, I realized- WE ARE ALL THAT MOM. Say it with me friends…I’M THAT MOM, and SO IS SHE. So when I walked out of Panera Bread after having spent $50 on a lunch that my kids mostly threw away, with a toddler throwing a tantrum so epic he was sweating, I didn’t sit crying in my minivan. I started thinking…why the hell don’t we just say this is what our lives are??

So here it is. Full transparency. Do my kids eat the same veggie-laden goodness I make for my husband and myself every single night? Absolutely not. Do I make a minimum of two meals for our family every single night? I do. Does this make me a mom whose kids are spoiled rotten? It doesn’t. Why am I doing this? Because friends- my hubs and I deserve to eat food that we like without listening to three people whine about it or threatening to starve them out or make them sleep at the table under pressure of eating like us. And I am not about to eat pizza 5 nights a week. Nope.

It's okay to make two meals for your family. And here's why.
Does my two year old want to eat this? Ummm…no. But since I don’t want PB&J and I want a peaceful mealtime, I’m cool with making two dinners. So long as they’re quick and we draw the line somewhere.


So what do we do? Here are my non-negotiables for mealtime sanity:

  1. I may make a kids’ meal and a parents’ meal- but they’re always clean. And there’s only ONE kids’ meal. This means that if tonight is pizza for kids and spaghetti squash for grownups, PB&J is not an option. I will offer an adult meal to each kid, and they can choose that or the alternative. That’s it.
  2. We DO have meal-time together. Sometimes that means waiting until 7:00 when daddy gets home. Sometimes it’s dinner at 5:30. That’s a moving target for us, but we like being together as a family.
  3. We wait until after we pray– even the toddler. And you know what? He gets it. The stinker won’t even let me eat a snack now before he says “uh-MEN!” And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
  4. EVERYBODY CLEANS UP. I may be a chef, a laundress, a taxi-driver, and a maid, but I am NOT a busboy. Everyone knows how to rinse dishes and put them in the dishwasher- we have a special step-stool for that very purpose 🙂
  5. Pots and pans are mommy/daddy chat time. We don’t get enough time together. Commutes in this city are time-robbers for parents, and by the time everyone is in bed, we both need some conversation to relieve the tension of the day. So these wait until everyone is asleep, pour some wine, and wash and dry and catch up. It’s actually pretty awesome.

    Dinner fails are real. And that's okay.
    See these beauties? Delicious looking right? Don’t be deceived. Dirt my friends. Dirt.

Last thing: I’m not a perfect cook. I’m not. I’ve had some epic fails- a beet/carrot/goat cheese bake that looked gorgeous and tasted like a pile of dirt, a tofu-meatball stroganoff that could have been used for insulation, and many, many more that probably should have shamed me away from cooking for a long, long time. I’m not too proud to let the fam tell me the truth- Cora once told me “mom, I’m not trying to hurt your feelings with this, but I’m not a big fan of these green beans you keep making, and I really wish you would just switch back to peas.” I’ve been significantly less stressed since I realized this cooking thing is less about being Wolfgang Puck and more about being together at the table. I just keep the frozen pizza crust at the ready and some organic tomato soup and grilled cheese on standby for when those instances occur. And I try to remember that Hall of Famers only get on base 30% of the time…I can live with those stats.

Happy dinner to you mamas!

xoxo~ LWH 


2 thoughts on “Meal time madness

  1. I feel so much better now knowing that the craziness of dinner time does not only occur at our house. I truly get the two different meals each night. Sometimes, we even have three different ones. However, I gave up the fight on trying to make everyone like the same things. There are some battles worth the effort and others that I just have to say “it doesn’t really matter”. I grew up a kid that was forced to sit at the table until I finished my green beans or turnip greens, and I swore when I grew up that I would not make my kids do this because even today, I cannot stomach green beans or turnip greens. I might have felt differently today if not forced to eat them as a child. I love reading your posts. Please keep them coming.


    1. I couldn’t agree more, Laura! Fighting over food isn’t going to shape anyone’s character…better to make happy memories around the table and try new things together as it works for you. Thanks for following me!


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