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Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: The Hour That Matters The Most

I was sent a copy of The Hour that Matters Most: The Surprising Power of the Family Meal by Les & Leslie Parrot, Stephanie Allen and Tina Kuna to review. I'll be honest and say that after I panned the last book I was sent, I didn't think I'd ever get another review opportunity. In any case, this book covered a topic that was near to my heart.

It was definitely aimed at those who don't already have dinner together as a family, as we do. So, in that sense, it was a little irrelevant. However, what it had to say was good. There were some strategies for dealing with conflict and chaos that I appreciated. The recipes included were rather basic, which makes sense for the audience to which it was aimed.

I had three complaints with the book. One, that statistics were held up not as back up for truth, but as somehow defining truth. You might think this is true, but there has been a study showing this, so it is true. Things can be true even without a study and some studies are false. Two, there was a comment about how "working" mothers don't have time to spend at the grocery store. As though, one, mothers at home aren't working, or two, they have scads of time in between eating those bon bons and watching television. I remember shuttling children back and forth to school and scouts and other activities, and moms at home with school children don't have time to go to the store either. Moms with little children have to manage around naps, or try to work out a time to go when the children aren't with them. We homeschooling mothers are teaching our children and can't just hop to the store at any point. Not only that, but nearly every child now has some sport or drama or music or some activity that requires the mom taxi, and mothers with children at multiple ages have to juggle all of these different issues. So, yeah, that rubbed me the wrong way. While I am able to start dinner earlier in the day, or do prep work earlier (like while the children are having lunch), it's not quite the same as having hours of free time with which I don't know what to do. The third complaint I had was with a kind of heavy handed presentation of a freezer meal company at the beginning of the book. Although the rest of the book wasn't a hard sell, I was always a little on guard, waiting for it.

This book was a light read, each chapter covered a different topic from why and how to have a family dinner to the various emotional challenges, skill and schedule challenges that come up in a family. I liked the things the authors had to say about conversation and keeping the joy in mind when preparing for and having dinner with the family. It is very easy to get caught up in the work and forget that. Because the book was aimed at people who don't spend most of their meals with their family as I do, there was a lot in there that wasn't as useful to me, but I think it would be useful to families trying to establish this habit. The most valuable hints, I think, were the steps and preparations that could be made ahead of time or to freeze a particular meal. Those are great things to know and very helpful to anyone, whether just starting out or well on her way.

This is probably a book I wouldn't have picked up on my own. I did find enough that was useful or helpful in it that I found it worthwhile. I would recommend it to someone who was struggling with establishing a routine of family meal times.

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