Hailey Gonzalez reached out to us to let us know how much she appreciates reading the “Real Family Dinner Projects” series on our site and learning about other families’ dinner routines. We invited her to share her own story, and are so glad she did! Meet the Gonzalez Family.
Hailey and Jeremiah Gonzalez of Walla Walla Washington, and kids Rachael (15), Riley (13), Jaden (11), Jayelle (9), and Milo (1). There’s also a new baby Gonzalez on the way!
Currently, Hailey is working on teaching her kids to cook and take a more active role in the family dinner process. With a family of seven (and still growing), it’s important to the Gonzalez family to make sure that the burdens of daily dinnertime don’t fall on just one person.
“After dinner every child has a job and they get the kitchen cleaned up in about 10 minutes. It gives this mama a much needed break from cleaning, and the kids get to learn the importance of helping out and working together,” Hailey says.
As to teaching them all to cook, “It takes a lot of time and patience, but the end reward of a yummy dinner you didn’t have to cook is so worth it!”
Like so many other families with school-aged kids, the Gonzalez family finds that the biggest struggle in having family dinners is just finding the time to gather everyone in between activities. With so many people in the household, “dinner is an important time in our day where all 7 of us get to sit down together, one of the only times in a day that we do.”
To help with the time crunch, Hailey recommends making sure to meal plan, taking the guesswork and stress out of deciding what to make for dinner each night and offering the chance to prep ahead whenever possible. For successful family dinners for all involved, the Gonzalez family relies heavily on modeling. It starts in the kitchen, where both Hailey and Jeremiah make sure to prioritize cooking and showing their kids that the tasks involved in food preparation can be fun. At the table, they take pains to model healthy eating and enjoyment of a wide variety of foods, serving lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains at every meal while saving treats for weekends and special occasions. But while Hailey says all the kids are healthy, adventurous eaters, she and Jeremiah remain realistic:
Every member of the household is allowed one “pass food,” which they’re never asked to eat. (9-year-old Jayelle passes on tomatoes.)
The Gonzalez family’s emphasis on healthy eating means that all members of the family enjoy a variety of vegetables, such as roasted brussels sprouts, green beans and kale. But a current family favorite for all seven is Spaghetti Squash Alfredo with chicken. Hailey says the slight crunch of the squash that she uses in place of the noodles makes a nice change that the kids really enjoy.
Hailey says she has enjoyed following The Family Dinner Project and seeing “how other families operate.” Learning about others’ habits has shown her that everyone has their own way of doing dinner, and there’s not one right answer that will work for all families!
The Best Part:
For busy parents Hailey and Jeremiah, knowing that they can end their day with a healthy, delicious meal — regardless of how the rest of the day unfolded — is a great stress-reliever. And since it’s the only time of day when they’re guaranteed to have uninterrupted moments with all of the kids, they enjoy having the opportunity to watch the children open up and share with them.
“This is the time when the kids will open up about the little details of their day that might have otherwise gone unsaid.”
Do you have your own family dinner project to share with us? We’d love to hear from you and consider featuring your family! Contact Us.