Aug 21, 2012

Toddler Tuesdays: TV Dinners

This is quality time to me, especially since London is not a big cuddler. By the way, Tulley photo-bombed this picture - she was sleeping on the kitchen tile and ran in as soon as she saw Cameron picking up the Camera!
The biggest pro-parenting tip I keep reading about these days is sitting down as a family for dinner every night with no distractions, including TV, cell phones and other technology gadgets. I know a big reason these articles are showing up right now is because its back-to-school season and with it, the crazy schedules of sports and other after-school activities that can be the cause of meals on the run.

Obviously, we don’t have to worry about back-to-school or after-school activities, yet. A part of me dreads how we are going to handle such when the day comes, as I am sure Cameron and I will both be working full-time as we do now.

But all the hubbub has me evaluating how we eat dinner now and has me thinking back to how I ate dinner as a child. All these articles list the various reasons as to why the family should sit down, distraction-free for dinner. Most of these articles also say you should do this 4-5 times a week versus Sunday dinner.

As a child, I rarely remember sitting down with my parents for dinner unless it was a holiday or company was over. Most weeknights our kitchen table was covered in mail, other paperwork, my mom’s purse, car keys, dad’s wallet, my backpack, my flute case and random items brought in from the cars and garage, not to mention my first cat, Kiddy. That cat loved that table and its chairs and could often be found lounging on the table or under it on one of the cushioned chairs.

I usually ate my dinner at the end of the counter in the kitchen, sitting on a bar stool, facing the TV and watching whatever was on. It was either something I had turned on or something my mom had turned on, which I recall being the evening news most often. In the early years, I know my mom was usually around and I recall my dad usually came home from work while I was sitting there.

In the later years I know dinner was a more solitary or brief affair. Usually I was scarfing something down that my mom had prepared while I was at some sports practice or another before I headed to my room to do homework. I have more family dinner memories from having dinner at friends’ homes than at mine.

The thing is, I don’t think I turned out so bad from not having family meals around a dinner table, distraction-free. I don’t think I missed out on all that much either. And it’s not something Cameron and I are too concerned with in our home. The sit-down-around the dinner table as a family thing happens more when we go out to eat.

Part of this has to do with London being a hungry hippo the second we walk through the door from daycare. This is usually 5-5:30 PM. We usually make her a meal or snack, depending on what we are having for our main meal. And once she is settled down, we usually work on making our own dinner or something else that needs tending to. One of us does sit with her, but I can guarantee, up until recently, the TV has been on with either the news, one of our comedy shows or one of London’s shows.

And the only reason we are now turning the TV off when London eats has more to do with her safety than it does with quality family time. I know we get quality family time, which to me, does include cuddling while watching a movie. The only reason we turn the TV off is because London keeps turning her head, and body around to see the TV while she eats. This wasn’t a problem until she actually slipped out of her booster seat and landed hard on the floor. She actually has a nice bruise on her knee from this fall.

See, the buckle no longer works thanks to Melody. When we still had Melody with us, she would run to London’s chair as soon as London was done eating to clean up after her. One night we caught her eating one of the straps to the buckle as it was covered in spaghetti sauce. London has only now outgrown the setting it was on at that time and Melody ate enough of the strap that we can’t lengthen it.

And that is why the TV is off or paused when London sits down for dinner. Not because we feel it’s that important to sit around as a family, distraction-free for dinner. Maybe when the girls are older and can wait for dinner to be served between 6 and 7 PM will we be better or if we feel we need to achieve the so-called benefits. But for now, those aren’t concerns of mine. More likely, we’ll just be purchasing a new booster chair for London since it will need to survive Sydney.

~ Sarah

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