TIME

As it gets harder to gather the family for dinner, parents turn to breakfast

BREAKFAST, IT IS OFT ALLEGED, IS THE most important meal of the day. Also a thing of champions. Plus a meal you really can have at Tiffany’s (as long as you book a month ahead and don’t mind paying $35 for avocado toast). And for many families, breakfast is now becoming something else: their primary family meal.

As parents deal with unpredictable workdays and kids’ after-school activities stretch into the evenings, gathering the clan around the table at dinner has become a more complicated operation to pull off. Yet the studies that suggest family mealtimes are great for everybody’s health and sanity are not ambiguous. Rather than struggle to hold it all together, some parents are just opting to front-load their family time.

“It kind of evolved organically,” says Meghan MacKinnon, of Wilmette, Ill., who has daughters in third, fifth and eighth grades. Their middle daughter is a picky eater, and much of their precious dinnertime was spent coaxing her to finish her meal. “We realized that in order to make sure she got enough calories, we had to give her a good breakfast,” says MacKinnon. “It was one of the meals she didn’t fight over.” So they began to make the first meal of the day a little more substantial. Then their daughters started to have multiple extracurricular pursuits,

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