Dinner at 3:30pm Instead of 6pm? (Or, do what works for you)
ETA: of all the things I’ve written, this post has generated the most controversy. Women wrote me to say they’d never consider ditching family dinners in the evening because studies show that family dinners lead to great outcomes (like smart children who don’t end up in jail, I’d imagine). If this were true, families with spouses in the military, law enforcement, or any other kind of non-traditional jobs wouldn’t stand a chance. We know this simply isn’t true and on further inspection, we understand that these studies are probably showing correlation, not causation. In other words, the kinds of families who are in tact and able to sit down to dinner together have a lot of other things going for them, as well. In other words, do you—without fear of headlines or what the house next door is doing. Do what works for your entire family (yourself included) for the season you’re in.
A friend of mine read an article from a mom who feeds her kids dinner when they get home from school. Since I work from home and my hours are flexible, I tried it.
After a week or two, we love it. It works SO well for us.
1. I'm not shelling out tons of snacks and then making a dinner nobody wants to eat. That is morally deflating and it does not encourage me to cook. My kids are also more likely to try new foods when they're hungry. (fyi, if they need a snack later, they can have one. But they usually don't.)
2. That 3-5pm time block was uber awkward for me. I was too tired to really work productively and the kids were in various states of bouncing off the walls. But, I hated leaving such a big block of time without purpose. Now, it has purpose and I don't dread this time of day.
3. I usually invite my first grader to help me make dinner. He feels SO IMPORTANT (his love language is quality time) and it's such a better time for us to connect meaningfully than at the end of the day, when I'm just DONE. Also, I've noticed he's so much calmer and quicker to share what happened during the day when his hands are busy doing something meaningful (I'm the same way!).
4. Evenings are just more pleasant! There's time--to do the dishes, to go for a walk, to take baths, to go to bed early. It sounds blasphemous to have dinner at 3:30 or 4 instead of 6, but it's been a great hack for our family!
What are your best dinner hacks?