'Why my husband and I choose not to sit down to eat dinner as a family with the kids.'

On my birthday last year, we didn’t bother to organise a dinner out. We were busy and tired, so my husband cooked one of the family’s favourites at home, and for something different we actually cleared the junk off the dining table and sat down to eat together.

The conversation that followed is going to sound made up, but I swear it’s true. As we called the kids to the table, my seven-year-old son excitedly exclaimed, “Wow! We’re having dinner at the table like a family! I wish we could eat dinner like a family every night!”

Yeah, so to say at that moment we felt like total failures as parents would be an understatement.

Saturday lunch. No one looking at the camera.

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I mean, we sit down to a meal as a family so seldom that my kids are actually excited about it. What kind of family are we? I gave it a lot of thought before posting about the conversation on Facebook, as I feared others would agree that yes, we’re terrible parents.

Instead, the responses were quite reassuring. Well, as long as you don’t think that the fall of the family dinner is the first horse of the apocalypse.


Many friends said that they never sat down at the table to eat together, because simply, everyone is just too busy. One friend said that when she tried to enforce family dinners at the table, her young son was outraged and insisted that “that’s only something Americans do in movies!”

Kids eat different things, they need to eat earlier, and parents like to relax and actually enjoy their food after the kids are tucked into bed.

Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than trying to eat, whilst simultaneously yelling at one kid to eat, the other that half a bag of parmesan is more than enough, and could they please use a fork and not their hands?

Speaking of family dinners, celebrity Chef Matt Moran shares his few secrets for the perfectly moist, crispy-skinned roast chook. You know… for those special moments. Post continues after audio.

Personally, my husband and I like to get the kids fed, showered, and into bed as quickly as possible, then flop in front of the TV with some dinner (often cheese…) and wine and just chill with a mindless show after a long day.

It pretty much became a tradition back when we realised that taking turns to scoff dinner while the other held a screaming baby was a really shitty way to eat.

Despite the fact that on that night I promised myself I’d make more of an effort with the family dinners; it’s happened maybe once or twice on special occasions. I’m not going to beat myself up though. Life is busy, and parents need time to relax and unwind.

I figure if family dinners are a special treat, they’ll always be enjoyed and appreciated on the rare occasion they happen.

“Treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen.”

Is this the norm now, or do you still do family dinners?