do you eat dinner with your kids every night?… How about ever?

I just can’t seem to get in the groove on a lot of things these days, and so rather predictably, I missed yesterday’s Family Day, in which we were all encouraged to sit down and eat dinner with our children. Were I a better mother, I suppose I would be doing that every night, with or without the Director of the Commission for Drug and Alcohol Abuse’s exhortation to do so.  But the family dinner is, in my household at least, a curious and rare event.

There are two main reasons we don’t eat dinner as a family: my husband is never home at 6 pm, and I am not very hungry at 6 pm. But it’s not like the kids eat together, either. In the last year or so, I have figured out that any two of my children can eat dinner at the same time– but if all three are sitting there, it’s blowing bubbles in the milk and kicking under the table and three barely-touched plates. So every night, I have one in the bathtub, and two eating; or two eating, one doing homework; and dinnertime is relatively peaceful. I mean, at least food gets eaten.

I do sometimes feel a pang of guilt that I should be sitting with my children, asking about their days, and on those days I join them at the table. Then someone wants ketchup. Then someone wants salt. Then someone wants a different spoon. No not that spoon, the Dora spoon. Then someone wants more milk. Then someone spills his milk. I’m not sure who these mothers are that can get dinners on the table which pre-empt their children’s five thousand change orders, but I’d like to see one in action.

The only time the five of us sit and eat together is when we go to the diner on Saturday mornings. At least there, someone besides me can get the syrup and the napkins and the what-have-you. Those diner trips are fun, and I do see the merit of having dinners like that at home. I just feel like for me, they are a few years away.

How about you? Do you eat dinner as a family? If so, how do you manage to actually 1) sit down and 2) eat?