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4 Tips for Single Parent Family Meals

single parent family meal tips

Single Parent Family Meal Tips

I am not a single parent, but I am living like one these days. With my husband in another state (or country) most days of the week, I am operating as a single parent with a brood to feed, help with homework, and transport to a variety of activities and sports…times 4!

So it occurred to me that some tips for single parent family meals might be helpful.

Honestly, there have been many nights when I am just too tired to pull out a home-cooked, gourmet meal. While I know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, I have a newfound appreciation for the day in, day out commitment and fatigue (mental and physical) that goes with raising kids single-handedly.

Mealtime, unfortunately, has taken the biggest hit in my situation. It doesn’t help that I am completely distracted (and stressed) about finishing up Fearless Feeding, which is due to the publisher in just 2 short weeks!

I suspect that meals in other households where parents navigate meals single-handedly take a backseat too, so here’s what works for me.

Tips for Single-Parent Family Meals

Tip #1 A Regular Time

Try to choose 1 time a day when you sit down to eat together with your children. Breakfast, lunch on weekends, snack after school, or dinner. Try to make this a priority and have it fit with what is going on in the day. If dinner time is crunched because of after-school events, aim to have breakfast together in the morning or a sit-down after-school snack.

Tip #2 Choose a Meal Service Style

Serve meals smorgasbord-style (all components on the counter for kids to serve themselves), family-style (meal items on the table for self-service) or Dinner Bar-style (entrée components on the counter for self-assembly).

Make sure to sit together, preferably at a table or island/bar.

Tip #3 Enlist Kid Help

Have kids help with setting the table and cleaning up—any and all tasks are fair game! Scraping food, rinsing plates, storing food, unloading/loading the dishwasher and taking out the trash and recyclables, and more. This will relieve the burden for you and teach responsibility to your children.

Tip #4 Give Thanks

Take a moment to appreciate the meal, the cook and the members present at the table. Everyone is busy, so recognizing and appreciating everyone who made it to the table can put a positive spin on the event.

YES! I want to join The Happy {Family} Meal Challenge!
How do you get through mealtime single-handedly? What tips or insight do you have that lighten the load, or make things easier?

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  1. My husband travels a lot, too, so I feel your pain. I only have two young children, so it’s probably a little easier and less stressful. Still, here’s what we do:

    – Keep a freezer full of healthy leftovers in single-serve portions. Just heat and eat.

    – Eat cereal or some kind of breakfast food for dinner (we do this a LOT). We call it “silly dinner.”

    – My 4-year-old loves it when daddy travels because we do a picnic dinner: lay out a blanket on the kitchen floor and eat it there. It’s something to look forward to and a change in the regular routine. You can adapt this idea by having your own special ritual that you only do when the other parent is traveling. I find that my kids look forward to it and enjoy the meal with less fuss.