Last time we spoke, your family
expanded to nine members when you married sports talk radio host and former
Alabama quarterback, Jay Barker. How is the Barker Bunch enjoying being a large
Having a large family is a lot of fun. Everyone gets
along really well, and there’s always someone to keep you company. I am one of
seven, and I am still very close with all of my siblings - three siblings travel
on the road with me, and my sister-in-law does my hair and makeup and wardrobe!
It's so comforting knowing that they are with me and supporting me!
With your busy schedule, how do you stay connected with your
I think it’s important to realize that’s it’s not about grand
gestures, but little things you can do every day with your kids. We love to play
sports together, so whenever we can, we grab a football and have a spontaneous
family game. Even if we just have half an hour, spending that time with the kids
is really important to me and Jay. Dinner time is also a great time to catch up
with the kids. I make it a personal goal to sit down as a family at least three
times a week. We go around the table, and everyone talks about their favorite
part of their day. The other day, it got SO loud because everyone was trying to
talk all at once, that Audrey our 4 year old just crawled under the table and
waited till we noticed!
Is dinner still one of your favorite family moments of the
Definitely. With my busy schedule of touring and recording, Jay’s
show and the kid’s after-school activities, dinnertime helps us reconnect as a
family, unwind and just be ourselves. While being on the road with everyone is a
lot of fun and we spend a lot of time together, there’s nothing better than
sitting around our dinner table in Birmingham, enjoying a home-cooked meal
together. That’s why I’m so excited to be partnering with Libby’s for a second
year to celebrate Get Back to the Table Month – it’s a great opportunity for
parents to start the routine of family dinner and share some quality time
together just talking about everyone’s day. There are some great
tips on this site about how to bring your family together at the dinner
table as well as tasty, easy recipes any mom or dad can make in a
Do you have any new advice for busy moms on how to get their
families around the dinner table?
I think the trick is to make a schedule and stick to it. For me, I
make it a priority to have dinner together at least three times a week. One day
it might be at 6 while the next it might be a little later, but I think planning
to sit down together for a home-cooked meal is the best way to actually make it
happen. This Get Back to the Table Month, set some days and times that work for
everyone and sit down as a family. Maybe make your kid’s favorite meal or play
20 questions – once you start to develop that bond at the dinner table, it’ll be
easier to everyone together. You can also visit the
Winning Solutions page on GetBacktotheTable.com for some more tips.
What do you talk about during a Barker-Evans meal?
We don’t have a set of topics we discuss – we just go around the
table and talk about everyone’s day. We just decided to have this HUGE spelling
bee! We gave each child a word according to their age and school level. And we
gave our 4 year old words like "a". It was hilarious! We are such a competitive
Do you have a favorite dish you like to cook in your new
I like to cook anything that’s easy, but I would definitely say
traditional Southern cooking is my favorite – I love fried chicken, mashed
potatoes, corn, mac ‘n cheese and anything my mom made when I was a kid. For our
dinners, I am a big fan of the Crock Pot. I just throw in some my favorite
Libby’s veggies, like sweet corn and green beans, some stock and chicken and it
does the work for me. It’s my secret weapon for getting dinner on the table
without spending too much time. And there a lot of great, easy recipes from
Libby’s on their website – everything from pasta salads to cornbread muffins, which are also one of my
What are your kids favorite vegetables?
Libby’s Sweet Corn is definitely at the top of the list – I think
they like the sweet taste. It’s one of my favorites also. Like most kids,
they’re not as excited to eat vegetables as I would hope, so I’ve learned some
ways to sneak it in. Adding Libby’s canned vegetables to their favorite dishes
like mac ‘n cheese is a great way
to get them to eat their veggies without noticing it. I also enjoy making chili
with Libby’s Organic beans, and the kids love it. Sometimes I’ll throw in some
canned green beans to make it a bit more nutritious.
What is the strangest meal request your kids have ever
They're not really strange eaters - they're just picky eaters!
Whenever I make tacos, Harrison only wants cheese! Olivia always wants a bagel
with butter, jelly, and honey - maybe not a strange combo, but an interesting
Do the kids ever cook for you and Jay?
The kids don't cook for us, but I can't wait until they do!
: Any last words of advice for moms on how to relate to their
kids during dinner?
September is Get Back to the Table Month, so start the routine
now. Plan to have dinner a few times a week and stick to the plan for the year.
As for getting them to open up, all I can say is just listen to them and be
responsive. My kids are still in that phase where they like to tell us every
detail of their day, and I love hearing every bit of it. I think the key is to
just be attentive and ask questions, and hopefully they’ll still be this open
when they’re teenagers.