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Confessions of a Family Dinner Advocate

Posted on: January 8th, 2014 by John

Dear Readers,

JohnMy conscience can no longer take the dissonance between my words of wisdom and my acts of folly.  I come to you, fully repentant and ready to change for good – even if it means fewer words in my future blogs.  It is true – my commitment to family dinner for the past six months has been atrocious. My wife has more than once called me a hypocrite for writing blogs exhorting families to get back to the table while staying late at work and missing dinnertime!  If I said that I got to two family dinners a week this fall, I would be exaggerating.  If I said I never stopped on the way home at a burger joint and ruined my dinner with a drive-thru I would be out and out lying to you.

And then when I got to the table I was often there in body only – my mind was still running through all the things I hadn’t done, perseverating on arguments that I had, or just exhausted and empty.

I am sorry – I repent –  and I resolve.  I resolve to make family dinner a priority again in 2014.  Not just to talk about it – but do it, and have fun doing it.

If there is one thing that this holiday season has reminded me, it is that these precious years we have while the kids are still young will not last and they are precious.  What could be more important?  So I am making a list:

Things that got in the way of family dinner in 2013:

Too much work – not enough boundaries!

No scheduling  – no routines

No weekend planning – no cooking and shopping ahead

The table got taken over by paperwork

No lunches = Drive-thru temptation.

Too much on my mind.

So what am I going to do about it?

Get some help:  First of all I am going to take a bit of my own medicine.  I am actually going to sign up for my own program Food Fun and Conversation: 4 Weeks to Better Family Dinners.  Doctor heal thyself!

Make the commitment:  The first week is making the commitment and that is what I have done.  I actually sat with my wife and my calendar and we made a weekly plan for dinners when I will be home. I scheduled them into my calendar so that when someone says, “Oh, can you meet on Thursday at 5:30?”  I will say, “Oh, I’m sorry I already have something on the calendar.”

Plan ahead and make it simple:  creating lists and filling the pantry with things that make it easy to pull together a good meal in short order.  I want to cook extra so I have some to take to work the next day so I am not so hungry on the ride home – no more drive thrus!

Leave work at work: I want to have fun at the table, play music, play games and enjoy cooking, eating and cleaning with my family.

I hope you’ll join me as I take on the Food, Fun and Conversation challenge. I’ll be posting updates to share how its going – Check back to see if I make it and send me your stories. Who’s in?


4 Responses

  • […] here I am doing the same. First John Sarrouf director of The Family Dinner Project, wrote about missing too many dinners with his family. Then fellow pediatrician Kathleen Berchelmann wrote about what happened when her […]

  • Ellen Rubin Delap says:

    You are talking my language John! It comes down to a little organizing, planning on menus and timing for sitting down to dinner. I know it will all come together!

  • Amy says:

    I’m with you John! I just started the program too and my goals are to plan my meals (for at least a few nights a week) and try too cook more…which is scary for me. Oh – and we’re doing Try it Tuesdays with the kids who are very picky eaters. Last night they tried baked beans. And both spit them out. But at least they tried!

  • John,
    I’m encouraged by your letter in telling the truth on yourself; you are forgiven. This shows that even the ‘family dinner evangelist’ is human and we all need a little self-examination and recommitment from time to time. Good luck with your renewed priorities, integrity, and quality time with your family. You get the ‘Purple Heart’ for being wounded in battle and never giving up.

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