Today's guest column comes from Jennifer Downing of Nourish. If this is your first time with Jennifer, make sure to go back and read her first GWYM column -- about how you can be a hero for your children just by eating a meal around your family table.
When I was young I always knew it would be wonderful to have a great big family. This seed was planted in my heart long before I understood it comes hand-in-hand with chaos. Chaos, as luck would have it, is my favorite consequence of a full house, and one I gratefully embrace. Today, I am the proud mother of four entertaining, thoughtful, and sometimes trying children. At our house there are always lots of friends, jokes, laughing, dancing and general noise. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all hearts and flowers. I am as appreciative of silence as any other maxed-out mom. And I must admit I find it profoundly enjoyable, to be in peaceful house after a long break or four day weekend. Still, I crave the chaos, and find the comfort of bedlam energizing.
With moderate pandemonium has come choices, or perhaps to some sacrifices. We don’t vacation as often as we would like, and there aren’t many big league baseball games or trips to the movies. When the kids were younger I spent a great deal of time searching for things to do cheaply – or better yet, free. We were never at a loss for fun and I am proud of our many adventures and treasure the times we shared and we all learned together.
As they’ve grown however, story time and the children’s museums no longer carry broad appeal. How happy I am to have stumbled (not over Star Wars Legos), but rather upon new ways to enjoy activities that don’t stress our budget. A rousing battle of Apples to Apples is pure entertainment. Netflix provides a more cozy theatre and a diverse snack bar, too. Years later, the search is still my second (fifth?) job but, I think we’ve gotten lucky in that we’ve continued to find ways to be together.
Our children, for better or worse have grown up in a food-centic family. Food, the thing that perhaps unnaturally occupies my brain has become a source of family entertainment. Whether around the kitchen counter, stove, and specialty appliance du jour, or on a smoke-filled patio, at any given time you’ll find a bunch of Downings. Surprisingly, sharing the pot stirring, meal planning and recipe reading with four children is far less exhausting than the last mile to bedtime when they were young. Sometimes, in fact, my days end a bit sooner with a sous chef in the kitchen.