We’re delighted to introduce a different kind of family dinner: A regular neighborhood dinner where “framilies” (families, who are friends, who have made themselves into one big extended family!) get together for shared meals.
Nancy, Sat and Caleb Deol (Caleb is 5)
Karen Lessard (affectionately known as Auntie KK)
Erica and Robbieo Livingstone and Syla (almost 5) and Lexa (almost 3)
Nikalette, Lee, Lorelei (4) and Baby (on the way!) Rodgers
The families live in Manchester, New Hampshire.
The “Super Tuesday” families get together regularly to share meals, with the goal of building community for themselves and their children, as well as making sure that busy families with young children keep shared meals in their hectic schedules.
Nancy: Even when our summer schedules become more and more hectic, I want to make sure that we are able to sit down for dinner together a few times a week with our neighbors. It really does take a village and it’s important that our kids grow up eating together, around a table, making memories. And they are so fun to watch when they are having dinner together.
The Deols and their neighbors all share that getting the kids to settle down and eat, rather than playing and chatting and getting out of their seats, is a big challenge at this stage. Making sure that all the kids eat their meals is especially important because the families want to get them to bed at a reasonable hour so everyone is rested for the next day, so they have to ensure that “Super Tuesdays” are fun and meaningful — but also stay on schedule!
To ensure that the little ones eat, “the tiny humans break bread first, and the parents eat afterwards.” The group of adults interacts with the kids and helps to supervise the meal, ensuring that everyone bonds and the kids remember to stay at the table and eat. Then the kids can run off to play while the adults relax with their own meals. (We think it’s important to note that the kids and adults are still interacting, not having totally separate experiences!)
Erica shares that the regular neighborhood dinners are an important part of keeping family dinners on the schedule for her family. “Once you skip a few times,” she says, “it’s really easy to slide into weeks or months without seeing each other….the more you don’t (eat as a family), the easier it is to rush or to eat alone.”
Nancy adds that while the families usually get together on Tuesdays, the routine has become so meaningful to all of them that they frequently add other days of the week, sometimes gathering 3-4 nights at someone’s home. Depending on schedules and commitments, the families sometimes make a potluck-style dinner, or sometimes one family will cook and host for all. Everyone takes turns and contributes, and menus can be simple (hot dogs, burgers, grilled vegetables and strawberry shortcake) or more adventurous (crawfish boils, after-Thanksgiving turkey dinners, taco buffets with homemade salsas, guacamole and a variety of toppings).
A favorite potluck-style meal combines a main dish from the Livingstones (“Robbieo’s cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped meatloaf!”) with a side by the Deols (“Nancy’s asparagus”) and a dessert by Auntie KK (“KK’s pistachio cake!”).
The Best Part:
KK: “Amazing friends, great food, and it’s always an awesome time!”
Nikalette: “The best thing about Super Tuesday for me is that we have the opportunity to have our friends together with the kids and they’ve been able to establish early friendships. I also really like introducing new foods to them, and to us, as well.”
Nancy: “What we love about Super Tuesday neighborhood dinners is that they bring us all together and strengthen our friendships and community, as well as make memories with our children that they will cherish.”