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With a bunch of busy older kids, Jake Frost works out a way to prioritize regular family dinners together.

We had a family dinner last night for the first time in a long time, and it was wonderful.

Not for any culinary extravagance. The food itself was fancy like ... left-over veggie soup from the freezer.

Nothing wrong with that.

Standard, but tasty, wholesome, and health-some.

But what made it wonderful was putting the “family” back in the “dinner.”

We don’t achieve that much anymore. The kids are getting older and we have a raft of activities among the family. Which means everyone’s running in many different directions all the time.

Sometimes literally. Some of our turn-arounds are on a pretty tight timeline. Like a sports practice that ends at the same time as a piano lesson starts. Kinda hard to make that on-time. But with some hustle (and an understanding piano teacher), we get close.

And don’t even get me started on before school activities. Who ever devised such parent-punishing policies? As if getting everyone ready and out the front door in the morning wasn’t already enough, suddenly over the cereal bowls someone announces: “I have to be at school early today!” It’s like having daylight savings time sprung on you at random intervals—and always in the wrong direction.

One upshot of all the activity and motion is that we end up eating dinner in the same way: on the run, in ones-and-twos, instead of all together.


family cooking together


And then last night we unexpectedly had a family dinner again, and it struck me how good it is. The chitchat, the kids’ happy banter back and forth, the catching-up, and time to relax and be together, was just what we needed. Plus, I got more news in that forty minutes around our dining-room table with warmed-up leftovers than I’ve had in the last two weeks.


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Family dinner is the nerve center of family life, the way to stay connected to each other. #catholicmom

Family dinner is the nerve center of family life, the way to stay connected to each other.

So I have a new goal. I know we can’t do family dinners all together every night anymore. Those days are gone. But if we make it a priority, we should be able to manage at least one no-rush, all together, family dinner each week.

Again, it doesn’t need to be a Thanksgiving-rivaling extravagance of the gourmet arts.

The key is just to be fancy like . . . all together.


family enjoying a picnic dinner

Copyright 2022 Jake Frost
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