​After My Divorce, Dinnertime Became Less About Food

​After My Divorce, Dinnertime Became Less About Food

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The summer of 2003 was one filled with much anticipation for me. My then husband and I were building a house in the country, something we had talked about doing since we started dating, and I was in a constant stupor dreaming up all the recipes I would make in our new kitchen.

Walking through our shell of a house on the night it was framed was thrilling. I could imagine myself on warm summer evenings looking out the little window above the sink as I washed berries for a pie. The island would be where I would mince and chop, while the counter space next to the stove would hold glass jars of rice, oats, and flour. The book filled with countless family recipes would get covered in butter, sugar, tomato sauce, and herbs.


When my husband and I got divorced, a lot of things changed, but the need to reconnect and sit and eat together never did. In fact, we needed it more than ever.


As the years passed and I gave birth to three children, all of the daydreams I had came true. I spent hours leaning over that island, planning meals and looking for inspiration. And sure, it lost a bit of its luster — I imagine this is the case for many parents who spend so many of their waking hours feeding other people and cleaning the kitchen — but I've always loved dinnertime, not just for the food, but for the bonding that comes with it.

When my husband and I got divorced, a lot of things changed, but the need to reconnect and sit and eat together never did. In fact, we needed it more than ever.

How Dinner Changed After My Divorce

In the first few weeks of his absence, dinner fell to the back burner so to speak, but it felt right. I let go of feeling like I had to have a home-cooked meal on the table every night, simply because I thought that's the kind of mother I would be.

I learned that it's okay to change your cooking habits just as it's okay to change your hair color. And I'm glad I got that straight with myself. Guilt from your marriage ending can make you feel like you need to never make another mistake as a mother. But I'm not making a mistake — I'm adjusting.


Guilt from your marriage ending can make you feel like you need to never make another mistake as a mother. But I'm not making a mistake — I'm adjusting.


Instead of meal planning, making a huge grocery list, and knocking it all out in one trip, my kids and I are taking it one day at a time. I shop more frequently and mostly grab things that are quick and easy like a rotisserie chicken and bag of salad or meat to throw on the grill with a few potatoes.

About three nights a week we have "Whatever Night," which consists of us all piling in the kitchen, heating up leftovers, or slapping together a sandwich. We always eat together, but sometimes we do it while leaning on the kitchen counter or sitting on the trampoline outside. My kids request this more often than anything else, and I kind of love it.

The time I used to spend preparing meals and making lists has been replaced with ice cream runs, binge sessions of America's Got Talent, or family munching with the pantry door open.

I know there will come a time when I break out the family recipes and scan my Pinterst board for new and enticing recipes, but until then, we are happy eating peanut butter and jelly on the trampoline, then piling in the car to get ice cream.

My New Rules of Dinner After Divorce

1. It's okay to change your cooking habits.

Think of it like trying a new hair color. Change can be fresh and exciting — and if you don't like it, you can always go back.

2. There's no right answer to getting dinner on the table.

I used to love meal planning; now I shop more frequently. One isn't better than the other. Plus, less time meal planning means more family time, even if it is binge-watching America's Got Talent.

3. Rotisserie chicken and a salad definitely counts as dinner.

Ditto meat and potatoes on the grill, leftovers, and PB&J sandwiches.

Read More: 5 Reasons You Should Always Buy a Rotisserie Chicken

4. Dinner doesn't have to be at the table.

The kitchen counter works and if you have a trampoline outside, I highly recommend it.

5. Ice cream is always a good idea.

Especially if it involves a field trip. Pack up the kids and go to your local ice cream parlor for your after-dinner treat.

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