Over the past few months, I have intentionally invested my best hours in making a better home for my family. Having better family dinners is one of the small victories we have achieved. My son calls it the British influence, attributing his new duty of cleaning the table and the use of actual china to my discovery of Downton Abbey. He protests the "fancy" dinners, but I'm betting that his teachers will be glad to receive homework sans spaghetti sauce, and I believe that deep inside, he loves the floral plates (or at least having a flame on the table).
You see, I am ashamed to admit it, but after coming home from a long day of work including breakfast committee meetings, client lunch meetings and evening board meetings, dinner was about getting food in mouths with enough time to brush teeth before 9. This wasn't the norm. Every night wasn't so full of "my" stuff. Some nights we had football practice, school meetings, grocery shopping, etc. No matter what, dinner became feeding time and with all the rushing and throwing together meals, it was often something that none of us looked forward to.
After spending some time with my in-laws, I picked up on some practical ways to make dinner flow more smoothly. Plans were made in advance on what to eat, and dinner was served instead of thrown together. Babies were fed first and might graze on something during dinner, but advance feeding meant that Mama could eat when the rest of the family ate & engage in conversation too. I came back home and decided that we could make dinner better, even enjoyable again.
Conveniently, I had to clear out my china cabinet to accommodate the construction project going on in my house so why not use the stuff that's been collecting dust (yes, I even washed the dusty plates BEFORE putting them on the table--fancy, I know). I required all homework to be removed from the table as well as the laptop, and my phone can only be used to play some restauranty tunes.
After just a few days, dinner is now something I anticipate with joy. Great conversations have been had. Food has been enjoyed--not scarfed down. Even my stubborn three year old is eating her veggies since dessert is often a planned part of the meal. It may not always be this way, but for now, I am so very grateful for our family dinners--a new sacred tradition in our humble estate.