Tuesday Taste – The Birth of a Family Dinner Table

Our first “meal” … many moons ago.


When I was somewhere in the zip code of my early twenties, I attended a wedding where the homily was centered around the importance of the family dinner table. The priest explained to the innocent couple and ttheir guests, that the heart of the family unfolds at the foot of the dinner table. Not only are meals served at the table, but bonds formed, lessons learned and hearts grown.

All around the family dinner table.

I remember picturing this family dinner table; solid oak with six tall chairs and hot steaming potatoes (OK, most anyone’s early twenties are foggy – I am imagining that is what I would have envisioned) sitting in the middle of happy hands passing the beans. And I am sure I thought to myself at this young, tender age, “Duh Priest-man…first comes love, then comes marriage, baby carriage…and then dinner table.”

And then I got married. And then I turned 30. And then I had triplets.

Most “dinner table” incidents happen something like this:

Me, coffee in hand. Food, lovingly (frozen waffles) prepared. Them, sitting in boosters, looking me straight in the eye. The rest is like a Western movie – we sit, eye to eye. Finally, they bring their smallish, dimpled hand up as to grab a shotgun. Will they put the waffle/egg/piece of cheese/pork loin in their mouth? I wait in suspense…ehhhh. Foiled again. The waffle/egg/piece of cheese/pork loin is on the wall.

And it finally hit me. They don’t even know what a proper dinner table is. All they know is a trough-table sort of object where they experience great displays of inconsistency by the tall, frustrated adults on the other side. The “I’m taking your plate and you are not getting it back” followed by “ONE LAST time missy” (because mommy fears you may starve in your sleep because, really, have you eaten more than one strawberry in the last 24 hours?) And then, of course, even my “good eaters” (rotating between Q & G) catch on and find they will get a trough-table, inconsistent dose of attention if they, too, throw the said pork loin on the wall.

And so, I have decided, and am declaring it here, the Hackman Five will hold family dinners. OK, that should read dinner, as in one dinner a week. Start small, build big.  All five of us, ’round the table, using utensils and behaving like a family. Birthing the family dinner table. So you are accountable for me, yes? I will report back our learnings. 

Wish us luck. It’s scarier than it sounds…this involves meal planning for all of us…and the other small detail – all of us sitting, eating … at the same time. Boo for us that we have done this maybe once or twice in almost 20 months and hooray for you if you do this often with toddlers. (PS, we go out about once a week and rock the “dinner table” at restaurants…so we can do this, right? Right.)

Any tips for dining with toddlers ’round the table? Family friendly recipes? Advice to distract toddlers? Wine suggestions? (Just kidding, silly. Everyone knows wine is for after bedtime.)

Be nourished!







  1. I can barely do this with one toddler. If you can eat out though (and omg WOW am I jealous – my kid always melts down in restaurants) you can rock a family dinner table. The hardest part is the cooking.

    I don’t know what dietary restrictions you may have, but both my kid and my husband love this turkey meatloaf http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/babyfingerfood.htm (you have to scroll down to the “Apple Turkey Loaf/Sticks” recipe. It holds its shape really well so I cut it into cubes for the wee one that he can stab with a fork or just grab with his fingers. That and some easy veggies and we’re set.

    Pasta is another good one for eating together.

    The main thing I’ve noticed is that Jack acts up if we have too much adult conversation. I have to CONSTANTLY remind my husband “um, we’re leaving him out again”. So we talk about what we did that day, what we’ll do later, favorite stories, songs…

    • GREAT tips and a good reminder that they ARE people & deserved to be talked to like a real person – you are right, that is when they act up, when I am throwing in a load of laundry. I actually saw a bumper sticker ystrday that said, “Babies are people”… I was like, oh yea, they are!

      I am going to check the recipe out – sounds like a good one to try. I’m trying to eat meat again – I ate so much meat when I was pregnant to get protein for them that I can’t stand it now…but I think in a loaf I could do it :)

      Thank You!!

  2. Girl, whenever you get the first successful family dinner done, please share. I shall be eagerly waiting for tips.

  3. I would like to be more encouraging, but my kids are 14 and 17 and in our experience this sort of ambition does not end well. Furthermore, I am suspicious of those who insist that this excruciating experience is somehow critical to “family coherence.” Who is behind this campaign? Is it the dining table lobby? The Pork Council? Some coalition of playwrights who recognize the dinner table as the motherlode of dysfunctional family drama that it is?

    Resist. Or at least take good notes.


    • Well, I will give you that it is drama – so maybe it is the playwrights…maybe I can sell a screenplay. We ARE pretty entertaining, I’ll give us that.

      Sunday has been the chosen day. Let’s say a prayer.

  4. The priest didn’t have triplets. Duh. :-)

  5. If you can do dinner out as a family, I am sure it will go well at home…and you won’t have to worry about keeping them busy until the food arrives. I look forward to hearing about the first meal around the dinner table.

    : 0 ) Theresa

  6. Linking up from Multiples Monday @ Capri +3!

    Are your kids like 1.5 ish? Thinking I saw somewhere Dec. 2010. My trio was born Nov. 09 & it was that summer when they were 1.5 that we ditched high chairs for some $12 Walmart booster seats & pushed them all right up to the dinner table with plates, bowls, spoons, forks & said time to eat like a grown-up. LOVE that we did it! I was just so over the cluster of 3 high chair trays & the disaster that was meal time & we needed a change. Now we sit down & eat “as a family” almost every night. Not that they always eat well, not that there isn’t someone who leaves the table early, not that spoons never hit the floor or that I don’t get up 15 times to dish up more of this or that. But heck, they are 2.5 & if we’ve got it down to the level we have it, I think thats pretty darn good. Plus, learning to eat nice at a table like that & sit on a chair makes going out SO much easier!

    I can’t remember how it went. I don’t remember it being too rough? But maybe thats just the blur that is triplet mama life? I think the novelty & excitement of sitting at the table in chairs like mom & dad was enough for them to sit fairly nice in boosters (they did have buckles too).

    Good luck with your mealtime aspirations!

    • Thanks for your comment – so helpful – especially for any other multiple mama’s reading too!! The oh wise multiple mama’s that sludge the path before us newbies in every stage!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: