Maybe you don’t need to know this. Maybe you all have this figured out already. But because this was such a revelation to me, I figured I might as well share my finding: Family dinners are an AWESOME way to get everyone in the family to connect!
I know you’ve probably heard this before. Experts generally agree that having family dinners together helps with everything from reducing the rate of drug experimentation in kids to cutting rates of obesity. Why did I resist so long? The answer is that I didn’t realize we WEREN’T having family dinners for many years.
Here’s how THAT happened. Maybe some of you moms can relate. The thing is, we ate together every single night. I paid a lot of attention to making sure that my family was eating healthy foods. After James’ diagnosis, I really made a point of cooking from scratch and introducing (slowly) new tastes to my family that are full of good nutrients. Things like quinoa, rutabaga, and other unusually spelled foods that are deemed good for you! I set the table every night, and all the family gathered around the table to eat. Sounds like family dinner, right? Only one thing was missing. Mom.
Oh, I was there! I was right there hovering around the family, getting second helpings, measuring portions with cups or scales. But I wasn’t sitting and participating with the family. I was just too busy. I rarely sat with them and instead hovered AROUND them catering to their food needs.
This changed in our most recent place. For a few weeks after moving into our new house, the kids and Craig ate at the breakfast bar. It seemed really nice and convenient for me! But once we moved the table into the dining room, I thought I’d give family dinner around the table a shot. What I discovered is that the table is too far away for me to “hover” like I was accustomed to doing. It became necessarily to move everything I needed (extra portions, condiments, measuring cups, scales, etc.) to the table so I could be with the family. Then I started actually sitting down with them, and that’s when the magic started.
For whatever reason, ME -- Mom -- actually sitting down changed the dynamic for the meal. It was no longer just about getting food into my kids’ mouths. That’s an important part, for sure! But now it was about being together. As long as I was hovering, serving, staying apart, I wasn’t actually a part of the meal. Once I sat down, I realized that family meals could be fun. I can’t believe how much we laugh over something silly that happens at the dinner table. All of us are laughing! Me too, because I’m there, I’m part of the meal!
How are your family dinners? Busy diabetes moms: Are you there too? I know you’re busy during meals. I know it’s overwhelming to worry about dosing insulin and counting carbs. But one thing that really worked for my family is having Mom actually sit down. It was more work initially (bringing over the needed supplies to the table), but I really feel like it’s worth it. Have you tried it? I’m loving the memories created, the ties strengthened, the relaxation each evening. I only wish it hadn’t taken me this long to figure out!
About the author: My name is Jennifer, and I live in Southern California with my husband, Craig, and our four children. Our oldest son James has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I’m thankful for this opportunity -- along with my sister-in-law Kim and her daughter Kaitlyn, who also has type 1 diabetes -- to share our struggles and triumphs with our friends in the diabetes community.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the "typical" experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.
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