What does family mean to you? Family tea times with McCain

What does tea time look like for your family?

This is dinner time in our house:

typical family dinner time

Ha ha! Not really.

Who has family dinner times like that?? Everyone is so attractive! And all those white units and place mats and teeth? What I love most though about this picture is that the caption is ‘family laughing around a good meal in the kitchen.’

I do my own voice over as I look at it:

MUM, laughing: Oh look everyone at how big our bowls of peas and carrots are!

DAD, laughing: Ha ha! That’s so funny! I love vegetables! Isn’t that funny kids?

DAUGHTER, laughing, but also crying a bit: But Daddy I hate peas!

DAD, laughing: Just keep laughing Angelica!

DAUGHTER: But it hurts my cheeks…

MUM: Ha ha ha! What a lovely family dinner we’re all having!


Family meal times in our house don’t look like that. In fact, weekdays are pretty quiet. Bee has long since left home, so it’s more often than not just me and Belle.

That’s okay though. That’s the beauty of a modern family – it can be anything you want it to be.


According to new research from potato brand McCain, as part of their We Are Family campaign, we often find it hard to identify with the portrayal of family life as shown in the media. 84% of families surveyed claim they haven’t seen anything in popular culture that depicted a family like their own in the last six months and 45% of Brits think more needs to be done to show the reality of everyday family life.

I agree, and to illustrate the point, Belle and I created a mini fly-on-the wall documentary of tea times in our house. (Does this video count as popular culture?? It definitely shows the reality of family life…)

It could be that you’re one of those ‘you don’t have to be mad here but it helps!’ type of families, where every mealtime is a raucous scramble for first dibs on the chips. Chairs are being forever pulled up to the table by friends and neighbours who just happen to pop by full of stories and jokes. Dinner spills out into the garden and turns into evening drinks and everyone looks JOLLY HAPPY.

Good for you.

But you know what? Even if it’s just you and the kids, or kid in my case, sat quietly at the table chatting about school and work and Netflix, THAT’S OKAY TOO. When it comes to family, quality should always take priority over quantity.

McCain chips We Are Family

McCain chips We Are Family

For me and Belle, a midweek treat tea is normally a throwback to my childhood and tea times spent with my Gran and Grandad. Family teas there were never a big, loud occasion. In fact, in my mind my Gran often didn’t even sit down with us – it would just be me and my Grandad at the square, oak table under the window, with the vintage car place mats from the felt-lined drawer in the sideboard and the speckledy grey china salt and pepper shakers.

I’ve written before about the whole ritual of chips at my Gran’s house, (you can read about it here if you’ve forgotten), but the gist is that I find it very hard to enjoy a chip that isn’t crinkle cut. Because I don’t live in the 1980s, I can’t cook my chips in a huge basket of fat like my Gran did, but that’s okay, because I’m more than happy with the McCain oven variety.

McCain chips We Are Family

Sitting down to tea with my Grandad is one of my happiest memories of childhood, long before social media piled on the pressure for us to portray a perfect family life. I find it sad that 16% of the families surveyed by McCain said their social posts probably make them seem happier than they are in real life and that 14% use filters and editing techniques before posting images of their families on social media. Can’t we just have an honest version of family life, warts and all? What favours do we do ourselves and others by trying to filter out the ‘normalness’ of day to day life? (Cue you watching the video if you didn’t do it first time round.)

The chips in mine and Belle’s ‘normal’ treat tea are sometimes accompanied by fish fingers and peas, but if we are going for proper nostalgia then I crack open a can of baked beans and sausages. I swear that if there had been some kind of apocalypse in the vicinity of my Gran and Grandad’s house, they’d have been able to survive for at least three weeks on the stocks of beans and sausages in their cupboards, plus had enough spare to use as missiles to fend off zombie attack.

When it comes to condiments, Belle is definitely a tomato ketchup kind of a girl. I’m partial to a blob of mayonnaise if I’m feeling cosmopolitan, but I don’t judge.

McCain chips We Are Family

Do you have a favourite family treat tea? What do family meal times look like in your house? Please leave a comment and share your stories and don’t forget to follow McCain and #WeAreFamily on social media!

McCain chips We Are Family

The McCain We Are Family campaign aims to celebrate modern families and address the misrepresentation of families in popular culture in 2017.  Through a partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, McCain is calling time on the lack of representation of real families by rallying the nation to join its movement to celebrate every kind of family, be it two parents, single parents, same sex parents or grandparents playing parents.  Whatever the set up, McCain wants to celebrate it through the We Are Family campaign which sees the launch of a two-year partnership with the National Portrait Gallery to support of the Gallery’s family activity programme and stage a pop-up display at the National Portrait Gallery to capture, celebrate and archive the reality of real families in 2017. 

Image – by ESB Professional/shutterstock



  1. Sarah
    4 September, 2017 / 5:34 pm

    I love your plates

    • Jo Middleton
      4 September, 2017 / 7:54 pm

      Thank you!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.