Where there is a will…there is a way!

I grew up in a family who ate dinner together….

at the table…

with the TV turned OFF…

every night…

at 6pm. 


My Mom and Dad raised four children who were active, healthy, drug, alcohol & tobacco free, high academic achievers, student leaders with solid moral standards and a strong Christian faith.  Now while I don’t think that eating dinner together regularly guarantees you parenting success, the statistics are pretty convincing that this sacred ritual is something worth making a priority in our homes.

Research by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University consistently finds the more often children eat dinner with their families:

  • The less likely they are to smoke, drink or use illegal drugs  (100 – 191% less likely)
  • The less likely they are to have sex at young ages
  • They are at lower risk for thoughts of suicide and depression
  • They are more emotionally content and have fewer behavior problems
  • They have healthier eating habits
  • They do better in school  (academic performance went up 38%)
  • They are more likely to talk to their parents about a problem (40% more likely)

 And yet even with all these powerfully convincing statistics – I have found that many of my friends simply can’t seem to make it happen for their families.  We do live in a different world than the 60’s & 70’s when my parents were raising their family.  So many things have changed and there are so many challenges as well as activities “eating up” our time.

  • Many families have two working parents and are exhausted at the days end and trying to get a meal on the table and sit down together is overwhelming (I wrote a post last fall that might help this challenge – you can read it here)
  • Many families are split up – putting an amazing amount of pressure on the single parent as well as often times having the children going back & forth between two households
  • Many parents are working “odd” shifts” – swing shift or graveyard making it hard to share a meal together
  • Many children are involved in after school activities, clubs, sports, church youth groups etc… (and parents are transporting them to these activities, coaching or chaperoning) often making it a logistical nightmare trying to get everyone together
  • Even the parents have a long list of volunteer activities, book clubs, ladies & guys nights out, Bible studies and even home based businesses that take up night time hours

And yet…I believe if we really want to make it happen we can and we will!

This fall is especially challenging in the Lambdin household as we have three girls playing on soccer teams with varying practice schedules each weekday in the late afternoon/early evening, the high school girls are on the school volleyball team coached by their Daddy and that carload does not walk through the door before 6pm.  The first time we are actually all in the house consistently each evening is at 8pm.  Now that might work in a family without little ones….but my two year old is simply not going to wait to eat dinner that late (besides my metabolism won’t work as well eating a full meal at 8pm). 

As I began to work on our fall calendar this past weekend and realized our current dilemma I began to feel a bit frustrated that our schedules at this season of life are so complicated (you mommy’s of wee ones – be thankful for the less complicated season – hard, yes – but scheduling logistics, much simpler!).  I immediately began to brainstorm our options that would still give us time to sit down & take in a meal together –

  • 8pm dinners – NO,  for the reasons stated above
  • Give it up and just settle for dinner together on the weekends – NO, I am not the “settling” type of gal
  • Have a family breakfast together instead – NO, this would have to happen at 6:30am which means the high school girls & Dan would have to get up 30 minutes earlier than they already do, I would have to get up really early to prepare and mornings are not my best friend, not too mention dragging the 2 year old & 6 year olds out of bed would be a disaster

That is when I came up with this idea.   I will have dinner ready & out in the kitchen for the family to grab and eat from 4:30pm – 6:30pm.  Crock pot type meals that can stay warm and be ready to eat when needed.  (I welcome crock pot recipees – do share!) Paper plates or bowls for easy self clean up. They can eat at the table, at the desk doing homework, in the kitchen or while watching a DVD. They can eat by themselves or with whomever is around at their personal dinner time.  Then around 8pm every night we will all sit around the set table, candles lit, dinner music playing and have a light snack together with coffee or hot tea.  We will alternate between fruit & nuts, cheese/dips & crackers, light appetizers and desserts.  We will offer our prayers & blessing on the food, share stories of the day and enjoy sweet fellowship with the family.

We began last night as this is our first week of the craziness of our fall schedule and will continue this routine Monday through Thursdays (yay for weekend dinners together at 6pm!) until mid November when soccer and volleyball come to an end.  It was a perfect solution and everyone loved it!

Let me encourage you to make taking in a family meal together a real priority! (at the table, with the TV off  –> nice dishes, candles & music are a bonus!) If it helps even a little to keep your kids healthy, off drugs, not depressed, academic achievers with fewer behavior problems as well as more likely to talk to you – it is worth the effort…don’t you think?  Besides it is so enjoyable to spend time with those you love and the memories are priceless!

  Yes….where there is a will…there is a way!








Filed under Consistency, Family Traditions, Life at the Lambdins, Life Lessons, Lifes Challenges, My "take", Parenting

11 responses to “Where there is a will…there is a way!

  1. I too am grateful for the upbringing we had! The dinners were a great part of it. Even though there are only 3 of us at home now and seems kinda silly to set the table and have a more “formal” meal, we still do it and have a great time ending with Mike reading the Bible and devotions.

    8pm “tea” is a great idea! Hats off to you! Tell Amy to get that pinkie finger up when sipping tea!

    (Can you believe mom was just 30 in that picture? I have to say, it is a bit strange to remember one’s mother at such a young age)

  2. Erlinda

    Beth, with the girls year round swim schedule & pool sharing during water polo season… we do this most of the time. I should have told you about it. Now that Cho is older we just have dinner at 8pm. And yes, when there is a will… you do make the way & togetherness is important

  3. Laurie Grover

    Beth, thanks for this challenge… and the ideas! We have dubbed ourselves a “3T” family – toddler, tween and teenager – and my hubby is a coach of two varsity sports. Add to that differing personalities and sleep needs – and logistically, I think all our years with kids at home will be a challenge.

    BUT… I’m going to share this with my husband and see if we can come up with a plan that will work for us!!

  4. I have been following your Monday Motivation & More postings for a couple of years now and was refered by another CM consultant. This posting particularly struck a cord with me as this is a saying my dad has always promoted to us kids. You are so right–“Where there is a will, there is a way”. My children are all grown and have moved away but I still set the table with a spoon, fork and knife for every meal for my husband and self (and the children when we are fortunate enough to have them home). I love your postings and look forward to the next one. You always seem to find a way to solve any problem you encounter and provide encouragement for others. Thanks.

  5. Jen T.


    Great site…I’ve gotten tons of recipes from it!

  6. Jeannie New

    The 8pm tea is an awesome idea! One new idea for you…do as the French do. Our family went on a mission trip to France this year and they all fell in love with the French “cheese course.”

    No huge loves of French bread…we have wheat allergies at our house so we use gluten free crackers. We keep all of the cheeses in one larger Gladware tub in the fridge so they can come out quickly…I plop them on a wooden cutting board if I have an extra 30 seconds. Presto…French cheese course.

    I buy standard grocery store cheeses and have found a brie and a Compte at the local Costco to make this a bit more French. No one eats much at that hour so the cheese goes a long, long way.

  7. Julie

    This is a great idea! Considering the time and effort that comes into play, along with emotional torment when your child is involved in drugs or the many things on your list, the time and effort involved in doing this (or something like it) is VERY worth it. Thanks!

  8. Theresa

    I’ve tried the dinner before sports but my hubby says then they r too full at practice. They go from 6-8pm. So, I’ve been kinda doing what u do but the oppposite. Healthy snacks before practice. Then a light dinner after. Usually they are starving but if we all sit down and relax and eat slowly it works out. Athough, yes the 3 yr old and toddler need to eat by 6 or they start screeming at me. So I eat with them at 6. We do prayer at both dinners. That will change next week when practices go from every night to three nights!!! Yeah!! Thank you for sharing the importance of family meal!! We did the same when I was growing up. I think I turned out pretty good. 🙂

  9. Gloria Borden

    Amen! Meals together are one of the basic foundations for building community and communication in the family–and a time for sharing and laughing and yes, sometimes, crying together. A word to single parents–what could be a better bonding time than a lovely meal in a pretty setting with you child or children. About scheduling–because dinner together was sacrosanct, I accomodated the time around their schedules, and it was often Beth who required that flexibility because of her back to back activities that allowed a window of one hour for dinner from late afternoon until mid evening. Caroline, there is nothing silly about setting a lovely table and enjoying a good meal for “three”. I did it for your dad and me, and even now as a widow, I sit down at a well dressed table, often with music, flowers, and candle light even if it is a mere hot dog!

  10. Becky

    Hi Beth! Awesome Blog! I wanted to pass along a wonderful crock-pot meal that my friend w/ 8 blessings gave to me. Here it is:
    1 Roast (4#’s or larger)
    2 Large Onions ~ chopped
    2 T. Garlic (Heaping)
    3 T. Chili Powder
    3 T. Cumin Powder
    3 C. Beans (Any kind…15 bean, pinto, etc. We love pinto beans, so that’s what I use).

    Place all ingredients in a 7 qt. crock-pot. Fill w/ water until 1 inch from the top. Cook on low for 12 hours or high for 6. YUMMY. This is great for burritos, tacos, quesadillas, or just by itself, and it is SO easy. I have some more crock-pot meals…I’ll e-mail those to you…if ya want! Lord Bless!

  11. Becky

    Hi again Beth! OH my goodness…in the recipe above, I forgot to mention, that you need to shred the roast after it has cooked awhile, and then add 2 T. of salt. (VERY imortant), other wise it will taste bland. 🙂

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