We Don't Have a Coffee Table // My Parenting Wins

Parenting has been a trial and error situation; we had a pretty good idea of the type of parents we wanted to be and what we wanted this child-raising thing to look like but really, you don't know shit until you are in the thick of it and trying to make it all work in real life. Am I an expert? Hell no. Do I make mistakes? Absolutely (all parents do!). But as I approach baby number two, I think there are a few things that I have learned along the way that have really worked for our family and hopefully they can help out at least one of my many friends who are expecting their first bundles of joy. Consider this one in what might be a few of the big things we have done that have been wins (I promise to share the fails too, because we have definitely had our share of those!). If anything, this is something I can come back to when I am having a day of fails to remind myself that we are (usually) nailing this parenting thing.

We don't have a coffee table.

Our living room floor is dedicated to dance parties or massive train track set ups and sometimes a dinosaur picnic with wooden steaks and felt peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We eat dinner together at our kitchen table every single night. There is no other option, and even if there was, there wouldn't really be because this is what we do. Coffee tables take up room and are just one more thing my kid (and soon kids) can bounce their faces off.

We really do eat dinner at the kitchen table every single night and it is usually a home cooked, no processed-food meal. 

Am I superwoman? Nope, but having dinner together each night makes me feel like it sometimes. I work 40 plus hours a week and have a lovely social life and somehow manage to raise a kid (while growing another one) and have an awesome marriage and still make good meals every night. This is because anyone can do this if you make it a priority. I guess the trend is now called "meal planning" but every Friday night for a the past couple of years I have made a shared note in the iCloud of our weekly dinner menu and then make a grocery list (AnyList is awesome) for my usual Saturday morning Stop and Shop run with Maddie.

What do we eat? 

I have some rotating favorites, like my homemade marinara on whole wheat spaghetti (which Maddie would prefer every night) but I get free recipes emailed to me (Real Simple and Food 52) throughout the week that I save up and try out as much as possible. Some get saved and put in my recipe book and some never get spoken of again (like these terribly soggy slow cooker stuffed bell peppers that I flopped last week).

I try and prepare things the night before or get up early and have Maddie help me chop things before I leave for work. I am also a realist and plan the weekly menu based on our activities for the week. Monday nights are tight because we have my weekly OB appointments so we always do a slow cooker recipe that is ready when we get home; Thursday nights are both of us at home so I do something a little more complicated since Matt can hang out with Maddie and keep her entertained for me. Wednesday nights we have a family dinner night at my AILs (which used to be called "two hand dinner night because it was the only night we could do that with a new baby) and Friday nights we usually treat ourselves to take-out to relax after a long week.

What are the benefits for us?

We only spend about $120 a week on groceries, which also includes breakfast and lunches for everyone for the week. The majority of what we buy comes from the produce, dairy and grains section so we get a lot of bang for our buck. That whole idea of shopping the perimeter of the grocery store first is spot on, and we always go between breakfast and gymnastics class so I don't buy a ton of weird stuff in a hangry phase.
We also eat healthy, which is probably why I have gained about thirty pounds less this pregnancy than my first; we eat together and Maddie is involved in the kitchen, which is awesome. She loves to whisk and measure things and has a respect for knives and hot stoves. Also, we get built in family time every single day  (no iPhones or toys allowed at the table). Research shows how incredibly major the impact of eating together is and I hope this is something that we can stick to with baby number two and throughout the years.

So that's something that has worked for us and made our lives a little more awesome and manageable; anything you do that I'm missing out on?

Pizza sushi? It could totally happen on the food blogs.
Helping me with homemade marinara.
Mixing is her JAM.
At least the cookies she eats are made from scratch....
This kid does not eat meat unless it is a slice of deli meat from her deli counter BFF.
My grocery store bestie (at Ikea).
And sometimes we make cakes from scratch for no reason but to eat them!


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