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Our Family Is Too Busy
“Our family is too busy to sit down for a meal”. No, no you’re not! I want you to think about how many hours you have in a day. Now think about how many of those hours are wasted doing useless crap. You know what I’m talking about Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, watching TV, video games, etc…. Sorry, this might sound harsh, but I’m here to give you a reality check. Your family is more important than those things. Here’s something I love to tell people who say, “I just don’t have time for that”. Change that statement to, “That’s not a priority for me right now”. Now say it out loud, doesn’t sound so good when you say it in context, does it? I want to show you how even if you have super busy schedules, you still have time for a family meal at the table.
Foundation For Tradition
I was a child of the 80’s. Things were very different for families back then from what it’s like today. It was just starting to become more common for kids to come from single-parent homes. A mother working a full-time job was also still quite new. You could say my family was very traditional. Dad worked all day, mom stayed at home with the kids, and most weeknights we sat around the table for dinner together. I know what you’re thinking, but we were far from being the Leave-It-to-Beaver family.
I remember meals around the table as a wonderful time that we shared. Even though one of my younger siblings may have knocked their glass over and my dad would lose his crap, or my older brother would make fun of something I said, or I would get thumped on the elbow with the heavy end of a butter knife because I kept sticking it on the table it will always be a happy memory. We prayed at the beginning of every meal, we shared the news of the day, and even though we had a TV within eyeshot of the table, it was off. It was something we could always rely on, no matter what craziness was going on during the week. Whether my parents realized it or not, they were instilling in me a very important tradition that I would carry with me into my own family.
Consistency For Kids
When I started my own family I brought with me some of the traditions I learned from my parents. Family meal time became something I tried to make a habit in my own home. After having my daughter I became a stay-at-home mom, so it was something that was easy to do. I tried to have dinner ready and on the table by at least 6p. At that time it was the late 90’s, so neither my husband or I had cell phones and our TV was usually in the other room. Our daughter was in a high-chair, which meant she was pretty much a captive audience.
As our lives became more complicated, it got more difficult to keep up with the tradition. Still, over the years I always made an effort to at least spend one night a week having a meal together. Our meals may not have always been at the table. Sometimes we ate at the coffee table or on the living room floor, but we shared that time as a family. I always felt no matter how turbulent our marriage had become, our daughter would at least have some sense of consistency.
I won’t lie as our daughter got older; cell phones became a constant distraction, Aaron started working nights, and I went back to work/school it became a lot more difficult to get that family time.
Why It Matters
So why is it so important to sit at the table for a meal with my family? Studies show that children who share in family meals at least three times a week have a lower risk of obesity. Other studies have shown that eating regular meals together helps children to develop healthier relationships with their family as well as lessening behavioral issues. Even if mealtime is only 30 minutes three nights a week, the benefit is immeasurable. In terms of marriage, I know that the time I have at dinner with my husband is special. It gives us an opportunity to slow down and share our struggles and joys during the week. Having dinner with my spouse is a brief moment in a chaotic life when I can just breathe and enjoy a moment of peace with him.
As Christians, we are taught in the bible how important it is to break bread with one another. “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts” (Acts 2:46). Every meal in our home begins with prayer. It is the time we take to worship our Savior, to thank him for his blessings, and to ask that he watch over us and bless our food. Spending time with our family at the table should be a direct reflection of the love our Savior has for us.
Think about some of the traditional holidays we have, what do most of them have in common? The meal. Getting together around the table with the family is at the core of most of our celebrations, it’s when memories are made. So why not capture some of that feeling in your daily life?
K.I.S.S. is an acronym for how we try to live our life. Keep It Simple Stupid. If you’ve been around anyone in the military you should be familiar with this method. Don’t overcomplicate things, start out slow. Set a day, once a week where your family has a meal together without distraction. Just 30 min without technology totally focused on the time together, trust me you won’t die. No matter how busy a schedule you have this is doable, and it doesn’t have to be dinner, it could be any meal. It doesn’t have to be a fancy meal, it could be pizza, it isn’t going to matter. This is something you can set up with your adult kids as well. Even if this is all you ever do, you are much better off than you were.
If you find that you enjoy the time and want to make it even more special, take turns every week rotating who makes the meal. If you’re anything like my family a great rule is, “He who cooks, doesn’t have to do the dishes”. After a while, you might see that you don’t have to even schedule the meal, that it will just become a normal routine. When I go to my parents and we have dinner, I make them sit down at the table (with no kids in the house they’ve taken to eating in the living room). I bet they regret starting that tradition now.
Peace In The Chaos
Hopefully, you’ve gotten a little inspiration and understand how important it is to do something as simple as having a meal with your family around the table. In today’s world families really need this moment to connect and have a little consistency in their lives. When kids are being exposed to so much violence and suffering, they need to know they can look to their home for stability. Couples need to find strength in the moments they have together as well.
In honor of Easter weekend and one of the holidays that families gather around the table, I would like to share a recipe. This recipe is one that my family truly looks forward to at our gatherings. We like to call them cholesterol potatoes when you see the ingredients you’ll know why! I hope you have a blessed Easter and start a new weekly tradition with your family that I’m sure will bring many memories and lots of love into your life.
Cheesy Potato Casserole
- 9 Medium to large potatoes
- 2 Cups Shredded Cheddar & Monterey Jack cheese
- 1/2 Cup Sour Cream
- 16 oz Whipping or Heavy Cream
- Salt & Pepper
- Wash potatoes and cook to medium doneness. Allow them to cool before peeling. Should be soft enough to peel skins off with your fingers, but still firm enough o grate without turning to mush. I cooked mine for 10min. in my Instant Pot.
- Pre-heat oven to 400 Fahrenheit
- Grate peeled potatoes with the coarse side of a cheese grater or mandolin.
- Layer potatoes about an inch deep in the bottom of a 9X13in. glass baking dish, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Add a layer of shredded cheese, dollop sour cream across the top, pour half the whipping cream over the top.
- Repeat same steps until the dish is full.
- Place in oven to cook until you see bubbles and the cheese is thoroughly melted. Approximately 30min.
- Let cool slightly before serving, can be hot as lava fresh out of the oven.
- Make sure to taste test before serving to the family. *Gotta make sure it's not poisonous, sometimes I have to take two bites just to be sure.