Our family tradition
Sitting down together at the table for supper is one of my favorite moments of the day.
During the week, when it’s just us girls, we all hold hands and sing grace before we eat. In that brief moment, everything is peaceful and undeniably happy. Then we let of each other’s hands, and the craziness begins anew.
Dinnertime = Food and Family Time
Some days, just singing grace together can shift the whole feeling of the day. It can be a great time to refresh our collective spirit, which is especially important if it’s been a hard day for the kids, for me, or for our au pair.
Supper is a social time for us. We talk a lot at the dinner table, about important things and completely silly things. The girls tell about their day, I try to mention what anyone has done well, or what problems have gotten solved, or what someone has learned, and I ask our au pair to tell us what’s up with her. For my family, eating supper together is a important ritual, and we try to do it as often as possible.
During the Week
I have always encouraged our au pairs to have dinner with us during the week. Usually they are on duty anyway, since I can never quite time when we’ll sit down or be finished. The only times we haven’t had our au pairs join us regularly were when two different au pairs went on weird diets that emphasized Slimfast and CheezDoodles. Oh, and then there was that one au pair who just was unpleasant. In truth, it was a relief not to have to talk with her at dinner.
On weekends it’s a different story.
Saturdays our au pairs have either been on duty while my husband and I go out, or they have been off having fun. On Sundays, our au pairs are usually off duty and thus in NYC having fun. When our au pair is around the house on the weekends, I do invite her to join us. But I try to ask before I start to cook, so that I have enough food and she has enough time to decide what would work for her.
Because dinner time is not just about food, I absolutely try not to take it personally if our au pair chooses not to eat with us– eventually you’d get tired of even my home cookin’. Since dinnertime is a social time that requires everyone to exert a little interpersonal energy, I also understand that our au pairs may sometimes just not feel up to it. Au Pairs need some downtime when they don’t have to be chatty, fully awake, or responsible. Also, sometimes my husband and I need the downtime.
What’s it like in your family?