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I've Finally Figured Out the Secret to Making Dinnertime With Kids Less Hellish

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Photograph by Twenty20

Let's face it, dinnertime for moms is a special kind of hell. Whether dinner is homemade, from the freezer or Chinese takeout, it's all the same. The kids are hungry and getting tired. We’re tired and don’t want to make dinner yet again. (Why do they have to be fed so much?) It's often called the witching hour for a reason. But despite all that, there’s something special to that sit-down meal that makes such a difference in quality family time—or so they say.

We get the attention of our kids while they’re busy chewing. This is the perfect time to teach manners, ask how their day was, or share a funny or touching story. Our kids need to have those conversations with us. The problem is we're also often outnumbered.

When my husband is traveling for work, it's just me and the kiddos. Between feeding the baby in his highchair and making sure my picky toddler actually eats something, I get up from the table at least five times. It was pretty much the worst. So, how could I adopt that picturesque at-home dinner without being resentful at the same time?

Well, I've finally figured out the secret to dinnertime peace and I'm here to share the exciting news: I eat my dinner, while it’s still hot, alone, before my family comes to the table.

I’m literally making sure that I am feeding myself so that I can feed my kids.

Imagine that—eating before the kids. It's a glorious time where I can actually enjoy the food I prepared and chew it like a human being. Not only is dinner still warm but it helps me eat healthier, too. I’m not missing anything, I’m not being the dinnertime martyr.

I’m literally making sure that I am feeding myself so that I can feed my kids.

We still gather around the table all together. We still talk about our day. We still make dumb jokes and laugh at them. We still talk about table manners and why talking with your mouth full is kind of gross. The change allows me to feed my baby from his own plate instead of mine, enjoy the time together instead of feeling sorry for myself and better provide my kids with the things they need around dinnertime. I’m much happier to get up for this or that, or clean up a mess, when I’m not hangry.

Now, even when my husband is home in time for dinner, we will sometimes enjoy it just the two of us before the kids come roaring into the dining room. It offers a quick, quiet minute or two for us as a couple.

So, starting today, don't wait for a rare night out to enjoy a quiet meal—feed yourself first and everyone will be the better for it. Trust me.

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