Is the Car the New Dining Room?

I've heard it a million times: Part of raising kids right is eating dinner together as a family every night. In our family, our three kids eat dinner together around 5 p.m.; my husband and I cherish our 9 p.m. dinners together once we've put the kids to bed. So, I've wondered every time I heard the "family dinner" advice: How come I don't feel like we're missing out?

And then I figured it out. In our family, our minivan is our dining table. The place where we talk about our day. Squabble. Report test scores. Give the blow-by-blow on whose best friend is no longer her best friend and why.

We spend at least an hour a day in the car together. It's our family time. Some might think this pathetic, or clear evidence of the decline in American family values.

Not me. I'm just relieved to have discovered that you don't need to eat fish sticks together in order to bond as a family.

What about you? Is dinnertime sacred in your household? Does your time in the car constitute family time? Or have you figured out another way to come together as a family every day?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  October 24, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Flexibility
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First!


Since dinner time is practically 24 hours a day, we don't have much division between mealtime and all other family time.

In fact many of our brothers, sisters and cousins frequently join us for a meal! Chomp!

BTW, we hate fishsticks, only eat sushi!

Posted by: nonamehere | October 24, 2007 7:25 AM

"We spend at least an hour a day in the car together. It's our family time."

All of you - or just you and the kids? How "family" is this family time?

Posted by: r6345 | October 24, 2007 7:32 AM

When the kids were younger, we ate dinner together as much as possible. Now that they're teenagers with busy schedules, that doesn't work out as well as it used to, but we certainly still try.

We're rarely all in the car together (two have driver's licenses; a third gets her permit next month). We can usually all talk at breakfast; other than that it's talk when you have the chance.

And e-mail, IM, etc. are good ways to keep up with the daughter at college.

Troisieme, btw.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | October 24, 2007 7:42 AM

Our dinner time is still sacred. We all eat together and talk about our days.

We're usually not all together in the car on weekdays - they kids go to different schools and we have short commutes. On the weekends when we go places together then the car is family time.

Our best family time is the hour or so after dinner. Our kids are still young (7 and 5) and that's our prime time to play before bedtime.

Posted by: dennis5 | October 24, 2007 7:51 AM

"our minivan is our dining table"

Leslie, I thought you drove your kids around in one of those SUVs. New car?

I heard one of the new models of minivans features swivel chairs so the driver and passenger can swing around and eat from a table. the minivan that serves as the dining table is now reality. Gotta get me one!

Posted by: GutlessCoward | October 24, 2007 8:07 AM

Gutless Coward, I saw the ad for that mini van, too, and all I could think was how much I hate flying in the rear-facing seats on Southwest or in the very few times I've ridden in a limo facing the back, so why would someone want to ride that way in a car?

My kids are still pretty small, and right now, the only time we ever eat in the car is when we're traveling. I'm certain that will change as they get older. When I was in high school, my mother used to pick me up from cheerleading practice and I would eat it on the way to work. It was never fast food, though (much to my chagrin in those days).

Posted by: WorkingMomX | October 24, 2007 8:18 AM

Actually, rear facing passenger seats have been shown to be much safer in a crash than the forward facing ones. The biggest drawback to this is the customer preference for facing forward, but oddly enough no one really objects to facing the wrong way on trains.

Posted by: johnl | October 24, 2007 8:27 AM

I object, johnl! When I used to go back and forth between NYC and Baltimore on the Acela, sitting that way made me at least slightly nauseous. But that's interesting about the safety factor. I hadn't thought about that.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | October 24, 2007 8:31 AM

"sitting that way [facing backwards] made me at least slightly nauseous"

Nauseous = nauseating (not nauseated)

Please, say what you mean.

Posted by: mehitabel | October 24, 2007 8:35 AM

Grammar and language police make me nauseated.

Posted by: anonfornow | October 24, 2007 8:48 AM

Oh, bloody hell, mehitabel. I've only had one cup of coffee, but you're making me do this. Source: www.m-w.com

Main Entry: nau·seous
Pronunciation: \ˈnȯ-shəs, ˈnȯ-zē-əs\
Function: adjective
Date: 1612
1 : causing nausea or disgust : nauseating
2 : affected with nausea or disgust
-- nau·seous·ly adverb
-- nau·seous·ness noun

(usage) Those who insist that nauseous can properly be used only in sense 1 and that in sense 2 it is an error for nauseated are mistaken. Current evidence shows these facts: nauseous is most frequently used to mean physically affected with nausea, usually after a linking verb such as feel or become; figurative use is quite a bit less frequent. Use of nauseous in sense 1 is much more often figurative than literal, and this use appears to be losing ground to nauseating. Nauseated is used more widely than nauseous in sense 2.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | October 24, 2007 8:51 AM

You have got to be kidding when you equate the back seat of a mini-van or SUV as a dining room! How are you to have a serious
conversation when you are trying to drive while your kids are eating? How are your children supposed to learn how to use forks, knives and spoons and basic manners?
It is so important that families have a time together each day that doesn't involve everyone facing forward in a car. Maybe, if you sat across from each other at a table where each person did something to get the meal on the table, you might learn more about your family than you think. Even 3 year olds can help set the table by putting out the napkins or salt shakers. If your families only experience as a family is eating in the car rather than stopping and taking time to eat together at a non-moving table, then you are missing out on what a family means. Try getting yourself better organized and serve those fish sticks at home, at the table, with no television, and see what you can gain from the conversation. You might be surprised.

Posted by: JOHNSONLYN | October 24, 2007 9:16 AM

The car is a good place to talk to kids. They can't get away and nobody is looking them in the eye.

If you've got their friends with you then you can pretend you aren't there and see if you can find out what's "really" going on!

I would sure rather feed kids at 5 or 6 than try to have them wait until 9 pm to eat. Holding everyone's dinner for a late arriving parent is very stressful and they end up snacking to where they aren't going to eat a decent dinner anyway.

You can try to fit in some whole family dinners one or two days a week or on the weekend. The book "The Culture Code" talks about Americans and dinner. Unlike Europeans we aren't stuck on a leisurely dinner, something fast (round food is preferred) is fine as long as it's shared. There isn't a thing wrong with kids sharing with each other and one parent or the babysitter.

Actually I'm not opposed to eating together in the car. My thing is that you should never eat standing up, so as long as everyone is sitting it's good.

Eventually you get past that always in the car phase. It's not a permanent thing.

Posted by: RedBird27 | October 24, 2007 9:19 AM

JOHNSONLYN, You are so right!

WorkingMomX, rationalizing an error doesn't make it correct.

Posted by: mehitabel | October 24, 2007 9:21 AM

WOrkingMomX - How dare you suggest that words can have more than one meaning? Or that word meanings and usage can change over the time? If that's true, how will the small minded people who spend their time correcting grammar and spelling and word usage on blogs ever have the opportunity to feel superior in any area of their lives?

Posted by: burntnorton | October 24, 2007 9:21 AM

If your families only experience as a family is eating in the car rather than stopping and taking time to eat together at a non-moving table, then you are missing out on what a family means.

Posted by: JOHNSONLYN | October 24, 2007 09:16 AM

If this is what a family means to you then your concept of family is sadly limited.

Posted by: anonfornow | October 24, 2007 9:25 AM

anonfornow -- lowering the lowest common denominator yet again. Eating dinner together isn't the ONLY thing that being a family means, just one of many.

Redbird wrote: "Unlike Europeans we aren't stuck on a leisurely dinner..." Actually, there's much to be said in favor of a leisurely meal together.

Plus, eating in a vehicle can make it start to smell after a while like a rancid fast-food joint -- aplus it increases the risk of the kids vomiting in your vehicle.

Posted by: mehitabel | October 24, 2007 9:31 AM

Leslie,

There was a study done (think I found it in the NYT a few weeks ago) that said eating together as a family was important-BUT that even dinner time in front of the TV counted. Dontcha hate studies like that? I'm waiting for the one that disproves it. Expect it...hmmm...maybe next week.

Elzabeth

Posted by: EEEvans269 | October 24, 2007 9:32 AM

plus, not aplus.

Posted by: mehitabel | October 24, 2007 9:32 AM

mehitabel, in a perfect world, everyone would use perfect grammar, there would be no spelling errors, and use of punctuation would be exemplary. I was going to comment upon how nice it must be for you to inhabit that perfect world. . . until I saw your 9:31 post. Suck it up, sister.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | October 24, 2007 9:40 AM

My kids are little - but we really think it's important to have dinner together as a family every night. My DH and I have very short commutes, so that helps us have dinner early enough. We typically all eat breakfast together as well. I think it's very important.

Maybe when they're older they will have more activities, but we always every night had dinner together as a family - with three kids too. Of course, there were times when one or the other of us wasn't able to make it to dinner, but it was very important to my mom. I never had a curfew, except that I had to be home at 6 PM for dinner every night - and if I wasn't I got into big trouble. Mom thought that if she was going to be making dinner it was very rude if we didn't let her know beforehand if we weren't there.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 24, 2007 9:41 AM

mehitabel, if you want to fight with people today, bring it on. JOHNSONLYN's statement was, unless you are eating meals together as a family at home, you are missing out on what a family means. That makes family mealtime a core component of what a family means. Whether you agree or not, if family mealtime is a core component of what family means to you, then your concept of family is sadly limited. This sort of small-minded comment can only come from someone whose view of family requires a man and a woman, two healthy children, 9 - 5 jobs, no layoffs, no outsourcing, three squares a day, and every meal must have meat. You, JOHNSONLYN, and Donna Reed stay in Levittown where you belong.

Posted by: anonfornow | October 24, 2007 9:42 AM

I would be a little more concerned about the quality of the food eaten in a car. Isn't it usually some sort of fast food? Maybe a healthy snack (fruit or something like that) to tide them over, then dinner. Just a thought...

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 24, 2007 9:44 AM

Suck it yourself, WorkingMomX.

Posted by: mehitabel | October 24, 2007 9:45 AM

anonfornow, like Chitty and Hillary on other days, you deliberately chose to interpret a comment in the worst possible light, because it suited your snarky purposes. A reasonable reader would understand that JOHNSONLYN was advocating that a family eating a meal together is merely one of many ways of fostering family bonding.

Posted by: mehitabel | October 24, 2007 9:48 AM

Catwhowalked makes an excellent point re the nutritional quality (or lack thereof) of food being consumed in the car. I'd add that if due to time constraints one absolutely must eat in the car rather than at home, it's safer to pull off the road for a few minutes in a legal parking spot, rather than try to drive one-handed and distracted while eating.

Posted by: mehitabel | October 24, 2007 9:50 AM

Is the car the new dinng room?

Duh, no.

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 24, 2007 9:51 AM

"How dare you suggest that words can have more than one meaning? Or that word meanings and usage can change over the time?"

Indeed, words can mean anything we want them to mean! Also, yakka foob mog, grub pubbawup zink watoom gazork. Chumble spuzz.

Oh, I'm sorry, did you still want to stick with the rules that YOU agree with?

Posted by: acheron2112 | October 24, 2007 9:54 AM

No, we eat at the house. But generally speaking, the kids and I have had plenty of discussion prior to dinner, so meals are quiet.

Which is not to say that there haven't been foods consumed whilst in the Mom-Mobile. The day the yoghurt spilled on the upholstery was memorable. Despite having the child clean it up, Febreze, etc.

For those who inquired, sponge candy IS delicious. There are two varieties. The kind where it's looks a little bit like a pumice stone on the inside (lots and lots of tiny air pockets [Andy's Candies, Rochester, NY!]), and the other kind where the holes are bigger and run longitudinally (The Candy Bar in Mt. Airy, MD). It's not treacly sweet because it has molasses.

Oh. So. Good!

Note to self: wheedle and cajole family member to buy some and ship it to me for an Upcoming Special Event. Offer to pay, naturally. It just seems to mean more when it's sent by immmediate family, you know? Duct-taped so no candy-snatchers can purloin my prize.

Posted by: maryland_mother | October 24, 2007 9:58 AM

maryland_mother, I love sponge candy. There's a fabulous shop in Old St. Augustine that makes dark chocolate covered sponge candy and it really should just be illegal. I don't remember the name, but I'll ask my mother. She makes a special trip there before coming to visit.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | October 24, 2007 10:04 AM

mehitabel,why so cranky pussycat? That's my domain ;). The thought of all that food in my car makes me queasy. My wife though would let them eat pancakes and syrup in her car, she incorrigible.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 24, 2007 10:12 AM

-she's incorrigible- correction

Posted by: pATRICK | October 24, 2007 10:12 AM

Oh pATRICK, wouldn't you rather eat flan at a table in a leisurely setting with scintillating conversation, than in the car with one hand while driving and with the risk of flan spilling onto the upholstery (not only a mess but also a waste of good flan)?

Posted by: mehitabel | October 24, 2007 10:14 AM

MD mother - I had asked about the sponge candy. Sounds delicious, I love molassas flavoring.
Is it lunch time yet? Maybe I will just have dessert first...

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 24, 2007 10:15 AM

"My wife though would let them eat pancakes and syrup in her car, she incorrigible.'

No, she's an airhead. A BIG one. That's why you married her. And what are you to tolerate/enable this nonsense?

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 24, 2007 10:19 AM

Posted by: mehitabel | October 24, 2007 10:14 AM

A girl after my own heart, cars are for driving not eating and flan is too good to waste.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 24, 2007 10:19 AM

CHITTY, or as we all know, HILLARY. My wife is not an airhead but a smart lovely person who can do what she damn well pleases, she doesn't need my permission.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 24, 2007 10:21 AM

In my small family, we always eat together. It's much easier to make one meal and one set of dirty pans than for each of us to make our own dinner.

But we eat in front of the TV (we even bought TV trays for that specific purpose). So our time to talk is in the car. We carpool and try to run errands together so that we have lots of face time to share thoughts. We almost never have music playing.

But with my mom, we always go out to eat and plan meals together. my family is notorious for not talking on the phone, so the only time we really talk is while preparing and eating a meal.

Posted by: Meesh | October 24, 2007 10:23 AM

Why should one never eat standing up? Is it one of those silly Weight Watchers tips?

Posted by: GutlessCoward | October 24, 2007 10:25 AM

Acheron - How about we stick to rules that have found their way into the dictionary? Or is Merriam Webster's entry for "nauseous" not sufficient evidence that the particular usage mehitabel and other pedants object to has become common and acceptable? The purpose of language is to communicate common meanins - if an incorrect usage becomes common enough, it becomes correct and fulfills its purpose.

But hey, if yout think there is some imaginary point in time at which the English language should have stopped developping, let us know when it was so we can communicate clearly with you.

Posted by: burntnorton | October 24, 2007 10:26 AM

"My wife is not an airhead but a smart lovely person who can do what she damn well pleases, she doesn't need my permission. "

Indeed - "My wife though would let them eat pancakes and syrup in her car, she incorrigible."

What is smart or lovely about that?


Posted by: chittybangbang | October 24, 2007 10:30 AM

Can't eat in the car. I am too much of a klutz, and always end up wearing my food. blech.

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 24, 2007 10:30 AM

I really don't like the kids to eat in the car. When they're drinking - it's always water. Nothing else. We have snacks from time to time in the car (like this AM, when 2 YO needed to go to school, but decided he wanted to have a temper tantrum instead - so we didn't quite have enough time for breakfast, he took some cheese and cereal in the car). If we're on a road trip, they will eat snacks in the car.

Growing up we were NEVER allowed to have food in the car EVER. And we spent enough time being shuffled from activity to activity.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 24, 2007 10:31 AM

What I find troubling is the idea that it is a given that teens are so busy that there is no time for a proper meal. Maybe the fact that we are so busy should be a wake up call and evaluate our priroities. Is the travel softball team more important than family time? What do we teach our kids about the importance of family and the importance of balance and making choices when we structure our lives like this?

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 24, 2007 10:32 AM

I am tired of the lifestyle police. I agree that eating in the car can be dangerous, and can ruin upholstery etc. But people have the right to relate in a way and venue that works for them. Maybe sitting around a an elegant dinner table for three hours eating fattening desserts doesn't fit in for those of us who have to work at least 40 hours a week. (Which Europeans don't.)If a person is sensitive to what is going on with their family members, they can pick up on clues in the car, while going for a walk, while folding laundry etc. You don't have to be sitting around a table shoveling food in your mouth to be relating to eachother.

Posted by: skylark1 | October 24, 2007 10:38 AM

Moxie: I totally agree with you. What do most people feed their kids in their cars, anyway? It can't be the best stuff. So then they don't develop good eating habits.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 24, 2007 10:40 AM

I read somewhere that soup is a popular item to eat in a car. SOUP! Unbelievable

Posted by: pATRICK | October 24, 2007 10:41 AM

What do we teach our kids about the importance of family and the importance of balance and making choices when we structure our lives like this?

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 24, 2007 10:32 AM

You got to the heart of it right there. This year for the first time, an unexpected change in the dance class schedule means my kids have to gobble down something between their after-school program and dance classes. We've had dinner together every night until now. Last Weds when this new schedule first went into effect both my girls came home and had a meltdown when they had to do homework/instrument practice.
We're all a bunch of introverts and we need to touch base at home to keep our heads together! But we either adjust this one day per week or we have to ditch dance! Not sure what the outcome will be. But some of us need dinner at home more than others!

Posted by: anne.saunders | October 24, 2007 10:43 AM

"You don't have to be sitting around a table shoveling food in your mouth to be relating to eachother."

I proudly rise to the floor in the name of the great, sovereign state of Zenobia, to nominate this as the OB "quote of the month".

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 24, 2007 10:47 AM

"I read somewhere that soup is a popular item to eat in a car. SOUP! Unbelievable"

Yes. It's also UNBELIEVABLE that

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 24, 2007 10:49 AM

"I read somewhere that soup is a popular item to eat in a car. SOUP! Unbelievable"

Yes. It's also UNBELIEVABLE that

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 24, 2007 10:49 AM

Sometimes eating dinner together isn't about *relating* to one another -- it's a symbolic touching of home base before we all spiral out again. We probably do talk more in the car or at bedtime.

Posted by: anne.saunders | October 24, 2007 10:54 AM

We do the exact same thing. My 2 year old eats at 5 and I sit with him, and the my husband and I eat at 7:30 after he goes to bed. It works for us, but i am sick of people telling me I have to have family dinner. He can not wait for my husband to get home from work, and I sit and talk with him while he eats.

Posted by: jmstrauss | October 24, 2007 10:57 AM

jmstrauss: but your child is 2. We have 'family' dinner, but the 2 YO typically either doesn't sit with us at all, or he sits with us for a few minutes and then he gets up to play. It isn't realistic that he can sit for that much longer.

Yes, we do go out to dinner, every once in a while, with him - it's rare, though, since he can't sit and play like my older one did when he was that age. They're all different. BUT as the kids get older things change. Of course, you can't necessarily change commutes (even if you wanted to) overnight.

My DH and I, back when we had one kid, would typically put the kid to bed and make a really nice dinner to enjoy together (on Saturdya nights). You do what you can when you can.

But, anyway, it sounds as if you *are* having that quality time with your child - you are sitting with him, focusing on him, etc. Not checking email, not watching TV, etc. And really, at 2, not much is going on in his life without you knowing about it. But it's a beginning and a bridge hopefully to another time when he will know that it's okay to talk with you and that you are listening.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 24, 2007 11:05 AM

Conversations with a two year old are too amusing :-). Great that you don't have to miss that!

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 24, 2007 11:05 AM

I cannot fathom making two dinners a night. The three of us eat together every night. My daughter (age 9) also loves to help cook. Dinner time is a great time for everyone to catch up on news/happenings. Family dinner was very important to my mother (seeing as she had to feed 10 people most nights), and she sure wouldn't spend extra time preparing special meals for anyone.

Posted by: p_hamilton | October 24, 2007 11:18 AM

Dinnertime together is important to us but not sacred-what is with 3 kids? I really enjoy the ritual (yes, ritual!) of sitting together. We say a kind of grace (what we're thankful for)that is somewhat weird for new friends when they join us but old friends say they enjoy.
The days are so hectic that making time most every night to sit and savor food and eachother is the best part of my day. Amazingly enough, our teenagers still show up most nights as well. Resistance against "kid over-booking" is another column..

Posted by: johngarib | October 24, 2007 11:18 AM

mom of 3 boys

I firmly believe that sharing meals is an integral part of bonding together as a family. I have two 12 year old boys that play football, soccer and participate in choir. My 18 year old is a college student (at a local university)with a part-time job and involved in a drama troupe. My husband and I both work full-time and are involved in activities of our own one night a week. That being said, the dinner table is where everyone comes together to share the trials and triumphs of the day. It's a chance for everyone to reconnect, unwind and be encouraged. For example, last night's meal of meatloaf/mashed potatoes/green beans sparked a conversation about why not everyone's mashed potatoes taste the same, why mine are better than dad's, cafeteria food, and the boy at school who buys 3 lunches. This was a small window into their world that we would've missed if we were eating burgers in the van. Is any of this going to change the world? Probably not but it teaches all of us to care about someone and something other than ourselves. Just my .02 for what it's worth...:)

Posted by: CheleFernandez | October 24, 2007 11:22 AM

I'm one of six kids, all three years apart, and we were all expected to make dinner one night a week. Sure, we had pretty basic meals, but we all learned to cook. We had to serve one meat, one vegetable, one starch. And a different kid was assigned to wash the dishes each night, so depending on if we liked that particular sibling, we were encouraged to either make something elaborate involving many dishes or stick to a one-pot meal. Decades later, my husband still marvels at how I can look in the fridge, freezer, and pantry, and figure out something easy, quick, and tasty, while he just doesn't SEE the options. I'm appalled at how many people these days do not cook. Make your kids do it when they're young--it takes the workload off you and teaches them valuable life skills!

Posted by: newslinks1 | October 24, 2007 11:25 AM

My daughter and I commute together, but we also usually eat dinner together (unless she is spending the night at a friend's place or I have a date). I guess it's easier to get two people to the dinner table than it is to get a larger family to the table.

Leslie, two dinner times is a different way to go about things, but hey, what a great idea for you and your husband to be able to share some quiet time. Too many couples forget about their own "downtime."

Posted by: pepperjade | October 24, 2007 12:29 PM

Eating dinner in the car - yeah, fast food - is a necessesity when we have to be someplace for 6:30/7pm school-related meetings. With a spec. ed. kid in the family we have to attend some of those.

On stay-at-home nights family time is when we're all in the kitchen helping get the meal together. There is no dining room table in our house. We lap-feed in front of the computer monitor or the television.

Okay, there is a table, but no one has seen its surface in about 2-3 years. DH uses it as his workbench for rebuilding computers, which he donates to schools or to kids who don't have one.

DH gets one-on-one time with each kid, and so do I. When one kid is at music lessons or after school program, the other one is with one of the parents. Younger son loves gardening with me. Older son takes walks with me.

I can't see worrying about family time too much. After a five-week road trip all around the country (including DH's home town, New Orleans, a month before Katrina), we know all about family togetherness. Respecting each other's space, and eaveryone having down-time/alone-time seems like a necessity for balance and sanity.

Posted by: sue | October 24, 2007 12:37 PM

I don't think you need fishsticks 3 times a day to have a healthy family unit going on, but exactly how often DO you make it to the table?

A family dinner is SO much more than just fishsticks. Who decides what to cook? Who goes to buy it? How is it bought? How does it fit into the budget? How healthy is it?

Who cooks the food? How is it prepared? What time do you need to block out for it? How many courses? What family recipes would you share with your kids?

Who sets the table? How formal is it? What chores and regular standards will be applied?

What time is dinner? How much time do you spend just eating and how much just talking? How do you pass things to one another?

Who cleans up? How is it cleaned up? What happens post dinner?

Not to mention- just spending time together, making quiet, family time a priority above all else. Teaching them that it's ok to just be individuals in a car going to the same places, that somehow that binds you as a family more than a regular dinner does.

All that gets lost just sitting in a car moving around town. You're not teaching your kids that any of these are real priorities, and they won't learn it anywhere else.

Again, not that you need to do this 3 meals a day- but isn't one time a week the minimum you could offer?

Posted by: EmeraldEAD | October 24, 2007 12:42 PM

Newslinks, I am also from a family with six kids and we are all a year apart. We also took turns preparing and cooking meals for a week and we all sat and ate together. It brings back good memories.

Posted by: sharonw | October 24, 2007 12:55 PM

Hmmm...I took Leslie's thought of the car being the new dining room as a kind of metaphor - not that they were actually EATING in the car but that they were spending quality time discussing things that are usually discussed around the dinner table. I figure, the way everybody is going in different directions these days, any time spent together is good time and an hour in the car spent bonding with the kids is an hour well spent. IMHO.

Posted by: Leetaann | October 24, 2007 1:06 PM

We sat down as a family most nights as the sons were growing up -- all of us. Of course, sports and, later, jobs made it tough to do more than once or twice a week, and there were more than enough meals consumed from the drive-thru, but there was a cooked-by-me dinner in the kitchen and whoever was able to be home ate together. It was a good way for us to be together and talk.

And I agree with the earlier poster -- the car is a GREAT place to talk to the kids, because there's no eye contact, they can't escape, and most times we were in the car, we were on the way home from school and their day usually came spilling out.

And I would have loved that minivan with the table. Think how convenient that would be when you're traveling, or when you're at the field before a practice or after a game, tailgating before a Ravens game...heck, I kind of want one now, and I don't need it!!

Posted by: educmom__615 | October 24, 2007 1:11 PM

My wife was watching OPRAH or ELLEN (can't remember which) the other day and some women had 6 KIDS at one time-(multiple birth pregnancy) and a set of twins maybe 1 year older. Kids were like 5,5, 44444. Oprah/ELLEN asked her well what do you do at dinner time, must be kind of hectic, do you have help? She looked into the camera and said, "No I do it all myself and make ALL the kids meals from SCRATCH, it's just much healthier". I told my wife what a load of BS! She got her cheap applause but I felt like she was a lying B, and how many women now will feel guilty for not making every meal from "scratch". They should have shot her.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 24, 2007 1:18 PM

554444-correction

Posted by: pATRICK | October 24, 2007 1:18 PM

Well, "they should have shot her" is maybe a bit harsh, don't you think?

Posted by: Bertrude | October 24, 2007 1:26 PM

Educmom - I am sure you meant to say before a Redskins game, right? :-)

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 24, 2007 1:27 PM

Patrick - I think the people you are referring to have a show called John and Kate plus 8. I haven't seen it, but see ads for it. From what I can tell, they do seem to have a system that works for them. Though I would have to be committed...;-)

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 24, 2007 1:29 PM

Well, "they should have shot her" is maybe a bit harsh, don't you think?

Maybe you are right, dealing with 6 kids 5 and under is punishment enough

Posted by: pATRICK | October 24, 2007 1:29 PM

pATRICK, some nutritious foods can be prepared "from scratch" very simply -- it's not necessary to follow formal recipes. E.g., this time of year a special treat is new potatoes from the Farmers' Market; just wash off any dirt, cut away any bad spots, cut into sections and boil. No need to peel these beauties, and besides the skins and areas just below supposedly contain the highest nutrition. There are plenty of interesting toppings you can offer (not just butter or sour cream), depending on your family's tastes (although I think it would be a terrible waste of flan -- LOL!).

Posted by: mehitabel | October 24, 2007 1:30 PM

But MEHITABEL, with 6 small children running around, fighting, screaming, pooping, etc do you really think she has the time to make EVERY meal from scratch? She was one of those people trying to make herself look like superwoman.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 24, 2007 1:32 PM

OT:
ArmyBrat, I did come from a family that worshipped the Great Johnny U.
Do you remember that Baltimore City wouldn't allow professional sports events to begin until 2:00, and how that messed up Corporate Football and gave Pete Rozelle nightmares?

Johnny U actually attended our church (yep, he was a HRC even tough he was divorced & remarried with a whole second family). I remember when he moved to the area -- his family bought this house that was built on swampy soil and had constant basement flooding (my FIL is a plumber and he did work in the house for the previous owner).

Anyway, Dad and I were in Mass kneeling after communion, and we could feel everyone stir. We looked up, and sure enough, there He was, walking up the aisle. Apparently, he and the family came in late to Mass. He took his communion. I don't think he had an anulment and was technically ineligible -- but would YOU want to be the priest to deny communion to the city's biggest hero? By the way, this was in April 1984. I never saw so many rich and self-important people in awe in my entire life.

Several years later, I was in from out of town with my boys, and we went to Mass with my dad. Well, guess who sat in front of us...and shook son #2's hand at the peace greeting. He was eight and now he's 18, and he STILL gets that little-kid glow when someone talks about it. Seeing Johnny when he was at that age was kind of sad, really -- he could hardly use his right arm anymore.

Posted by: educmom__615 | October 24, 2007 1:39 PM

I spent the last few years living/eating alone and have found since I moved in with 3-4 roommates this year I have started gaining weight. A program on NPR this morning suggested that eating with others can cause you to continue to graze after you're full to have a reason to stick around and "connect." I guess I'm just surprised that there could be this social aspect that is overriding my "full" cues. With that said, it is such a natural time of day to gather and reflect; I always found the car unconducive to that because when I'm not looking at people I tend to space out...

Posted by: MaryL | October 24, 2007 1:42 PM

But really, when you need 'aid' for the first kids (twins) - i.e. they either used drugs and/or had in vitro - then when you're thinking of having ONE more kid - you need to adopt, not use more aids to have more kids - that's how you end up with sextuplets.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 24, 2007 1:44 PM

Catwhowalked, well, I don't actively root against them...but no. Even if I might have been a fan otherwise, I still resent having all those Redskin games shoved at me on TV when Baltimore had no team, at the expense of the day's 'marquee' game. Like now, I live in northern Harford county, and our cable system has the Lancaster Fox affiliate -- so we get Eagles games on Fox, even if there's a better game elsewhere. Fortunately for us, the cable company also has the Baltimore Fox affiliate, or some weeks I know we would be out of luck.

Posted by: educmom__615 | October 24, 2007 1:47 PM

But then, the way the Ravens have been playing this season, maybe I'm not actually all that lucky!

Posted by: educmom__615 | October 24, 2007 1:49 PM

Hello everyone!

I have been busy this past week. I had the baby last Thursday. I had no idea I was even in labor because I had no contractions until it was almost time for him to come out. All in all it was an easy delivery, even though my epidural did not work. He weighed 6 pounds 8 ounces and is doing very well. His only problem is occasional laziness when it comes to nursing. I hope everything his going well on the blog!

Posted by: Irishgirl | October 24, 2007 1:53 PM

Congratulations, Irishgirl!!! Glad to hear you had an easy delivery, and that you and your son are both doing very well! Maybe Fred can offer you a BF tip from Frieda :-)

Posted by: mehitabel | October 24, 2007 1:55 PM

Irishgirl - congrats!! yay!

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 24, 2007 1:56 PM

pATRICK, I agree with you that the mom of 8 sounds like she's just trying to prove something. I'm just sayin' that there are quick, easy ways to prepare at least PART of a meal from scratch that are nutritious and tasty. E.g., stringless fresh green beans only need to have their tips broken off, then they can quickly be steamed whole. Among our favorite desserts this time of year are fresh local apples and pears (washed, then served whole or quartered, with skins still on) -- no need to bake pies, and besides who needs all those extra calories from sugar and fat?

Posted by: mehitabel | October 24, 2007 2:00 PM

Many congratulations, Irishgirl!

I hope you are getting some rest too. Have you been recounting his fingers & toes?

And yes, I view time in the car with kid(s) as an opportunity to have conversations. They can't escape. Neither can I, come to think on it.

Posted by: maryland_mother | October 24, 2007 2:03 PM

Great news Irishgirl! Now that you've birthed the little bugger all you need to do is raise him! Thanks for letting us know - we'd been wondering.

Posted by: anne.saunders | October 24, 2007 2:04 PM

Congrats Irishgirl! That's awesome. Glad to hear all went and is going well.

As for the jon and kate +8 - no joke pATRICK. But really, it is true that most of cooking doesn't take as much time as people think. HOWEVER, it DOES take a bunch of planning to go well.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 24, 2007 2:10 PM

mehitabel - I agree with that nutrional food is sometimes easy to make (new potatos, mmm). Maybe the mother of eight was trying to distance herself from that family of 17 (18? 19?) the Duggars, whose recipes include tater tot casserole. blech.

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 24, 2007 2:10 PM

Congratulations Irishgirl!

Posted by: pATRICK | October 24, 2007 2:16 PM

Congratulations, Scarry!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | October 24, 2007 2:45 PM

Irishgirl, I wanted to let you know that Father of 4 has a broad smile across his face right now. He has prayed for this moment for quite some time. Congratulations!

Posted by: SpiritOfFo4 | October 24, 2007 2:46 PM

I thought that one of the reasons Kate
made her meals from scratch is cost. The
ten of them, I believe, live on Jon's salary only.

Posted by: shdd | October 24, 2007 2:55 PM

Congrats, Irishgirl! Nine months down, 216 to go!
;)

Posted by: educmom__615 | October 24, 2007 2:57 PM

Fred will even come back to say congrats to Scarry! Hope you will have the little guy up step dancing soon!

Posted by: Fred | October 24, 2007 3:16 PM

Leslie wrote: "In our family, our three kids eat dinner together around 5 p.m.; my husband and I cherish our 9 p.m. dinners together once we've put the kids to bed."

Leslie, what meals does your husband eat with the children? Breakfast? Lunch? How many times a week?

Posted by: mehitabel | October 24, 2007 3:18 PM

Fred will even come back to say congrats to Scarry! Hope you will have the little guy up step dancing soon!

FRED, surely one anon poster sniping at you, was not enough for you to quit posting was it?

Posted by: pATRICK | October 24, 2007 3:20 PM

Scarry - much happiness to you and your family! Does his name 'fit'? I remember some discussion on irish names and I hope you didn't have to rechose at the last minute (as we did for one because...well...the first chosen name just didn't suit. The second and final name does, indeed, suit!)!!

Posted by: dotted_1 | October 24, 2007 4:00 PM

Congrats, Scarry! Enjoy him. How's big sis handling it?

Posted by: atb2 | October 24, 2007 4:17 PM

Congratulations Scarry! So glad to hear that everyone is happy and healthy.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | October 24, 2007 6:33 PM

Travel day -- just got back from Chicago.

We don't EAT DINNER in the car. We actually eat at home. Kids separate. I think only one person actually understood this. My bad.

GREAT NEWS SCARRY!!!!!! YAHOOOO!!!

My husband prepares and eats breakfast with the kids every day. Lunch on weekends. Does this qualify him as superdad? I sure think so. My dad made breakfast for us every day and it was very special since we never saw him for dinner.

Posted by: leslie4 | October 24, 2007 7:09 PM

Leslie: Understood, now. :)

My dad NEVER LIFTED A FINGER. Never even took his own plate to the kitchen after eating dinner. We had to scurry around waiting on him. I can't believe looking back that that was the way things were. So crazy.

When he made himself something (like a tuna sandwich) he would leave the biggest mess in the kitchen - and my mom would clean it up.

When my parents split up I was shocked that he could feed himself. Really, we were wondering what he was going to do - how he was going to live. Cause he certainly didn't know how to do the laundry....

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 24, 2007 8:05 PM

Congratulations, Scarry. I'm a day late, and a dollar short, but I do wish you and your family the best. This is wonderful news. And an easy delivery rocks.

Posted by: Emily | October 25, 2007 10:39 AM

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