Apparently sitting down to dinner together is good for families. Beck Vass says it ages her every night.
If you listen to parenting advice, you will know there is a huge emphasis on the importance of dinner times and sitting down as a family to have a meal.
It's a time for family bonding, to teach the kids manners, to form good food habits, to get underneath each kid's skin and delve into their souls.
A chance for them to learn the art of conversation, all the while experiencing a time of family harmony. It's a critical time that helps build character and resilience and can reduce the likelihood of obesity and depression in later life.
Every time I hear this stuff, it makes me feel a little bit sick. Dinner time at our place is not really like this at all.
It's a marathon getting there in the first place and everyone's trying not to step on metaphoric land mines.
As I am sure is the case in many families, my husband doesn't arrive home until ages after the kids need to eat. If both parents are working full time, ot there is only one parent, this may well push dinner out even later.
Basically every day, I run around dealing with a 7-year-old who often explodes simply if you ask her if she had a good day at school. It's a long time between their lunch break and pick-up time at 3pm. At least it seems to be for our girl. Sometimes a banana or snack in the car saves me, sometimes not. It's like a fun game of Schoolgirl Roulette every day.
Our boy, 4, loves to get in her face at this time because he gets the best reactions - screaming, chasing, sobbing. So that's always fun.
And our baby, 1, is in the Shoving Stuff In Plug Sockets and Let's Rip Up All The Paper Towels stages.
So I'm trying to sort after-school snacks and dinner with three kids on a knife edge.
Sometimes I make dinner early and feed it to them immediately. Sometimes that helps, sometimes it doesn't.
Sometimes I sit with them, but I'm pretty sure it's not the bonding experience it's meant to be.
Sometimes I'm dishing out food to them and putting out other fires being lit all around me at that time of day.
Washing, bath time, meltdowns, the rest of it. There's usually someone screaming at some point of the "dinner" time. Sometimes it's not me.
On rare occasions, like weekends, when we can have an early dinner all together, there will be screaming over the "yucky" meal, lengthy debates with one of them wanting something else to eat, complaints over not getting it until what has become a "mock bedtime" - which is when we tell them it's bedtime half an hour before actual bedtime. This is when they will tell us they're hungry and, after many more complaints, eventually eat some of the dinner they refused earlier.
I age about 60 years every dinner time. And apparently it's good for families.
They got the bits about building character and resilience right. I'm not sure about the rest.