Thanks to the Estes Valley Investment in Childhood Success for hosting my No Regrets Parenting seminar last evening, and the Rotary Club of Cherry Creek for hosting my No Regrets Work-Life Balance seminar this morning. I mention these because an identical question was raised by audience members at both talks – What happens if it’s impossible to get the family together for dinner?

One of the important tenets of No Regrets Parenting is the daily family dinner – in the book, I call it the most important meeting of your day. And it is – this is the time when, for most families, everyone’s biorhythms are in sync and, with proper preparation, meaningful family moments are created. But, thanks to wise counsel from family who read the first draft of the Family Dinner Meeting chapter of the book, I added a plan B for families that absolutely cannot come together at dinner – Family Breakfast Meetings. Now, the concept has made it to the NYT Motherlode column. If yours is one of those households where dinner together is impossible, you’ll want to read this discussion:

Here is the comment I left in the Motherlode discussion:

“It was my sister-in-law who taught me the Family Breakfast lesson after reading my draft chapter in “No Regrets Parenting” titled “Family Dinner Meeting.” “While it might have worked in your home…,” she started, and then almost word-for-word sounded the exact same reality check as Ms. Teti.

I immediately edited the chapter to include the Family Breakfast Meeting as a meaningful alternative for families that can rarely find a shared dinner hour. From the feedback I’ve received on the final version, I can say with certainty that Ms. Teti’s family, and my sister-in-law’s family, are not alone in cherishing breakfast moments together. “

One more variation on the theme – families should feel free to create a “Plan C” if neither dinner or breakfast are possible – which for two-working parent families is often the case. The kids may not be awake early enough to catch breakfast with mom or dad, and mom or dad may get home too late to share dinner. Plan a special weekend dinner night, or a weekly Sunday picnic. Whether you use Plan A, Plan B, or devise your own Plan C, the importance of getting everyone together to share their lives at a regularly scheduled time of the day or week is crucial for achieving No Regrets as a parent.

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