In order to put your kids to bed by seven o’clock, dinner should be on the table by five o’clock. Eating dinner at five o’clock seems totally odd, you say. Fair enough. It is a little odd. If it helps, the adults in the family can think of it as a late lunch. Indeed, working parents can leave after-school care to another person and just show up at five as though it’s a lunch break. By seven the kids are in bed and you can go back to work!
To you it’s a siesta. To your children it’s a calm predictable bedtime at the time that is right for them. I realized that many parents do not come off assembly lines at three, do not home school, don’t work the mid-night shift, and do not have the flexibility in their day necessary for spending the hours between five and seven at home with their children. A child’s daily needs are not necessarily easy to coordinate with the needs of the working-day world. On the other hand, I do know working parents of both sexes who try very hard to be home in time to eat dinner with their children. Some are executives who rush away from the office each day at five and sit down to the table at five-fifteen. Others schedule their family dinners at six and find that an eight o’clock bedtime works just fine.
One thing is clear: For most parents in this day and age, a routine family dinner served at the same time every single night cannot happen without a great deal of compromise on everyone’s part.
What do you think? Join the debate and share your opinion.
Inda Schaenen is a freelance writer and full-time mother of three children. She and her family live in St. Louis, Missouri.