Happy Eat Together Day!
Did you know that today is Canada's annual "Eat Together Day"? In an effort to encourage family and friends to reconnect around the lost art of the dinner table, our neighbors to the North established this "holiday" a few years ago. I would love to see the U.S. begin a similar yearly tradition that would hopefully grow into a regular habit for many. Doesn't this video just make you want to string some lights in your backyard and gather some folks around your picnic table!?!
Although I know this seems like a bit of a deviation from all things Doula, it has everything to do with building strong Mothers and families. While my husband and I are far from the perfect parents, one thing I know we did right was to establish and almost always practice a family evening mealtime. It has not always been easy, but it's been totally worth it. And now, one of the best feelings in the world is when my grown kids and their spouses or significant others come home and we gather around the table. We are so crazy about this idea (and maybe just a little crazy in general) that when one or two of them can't be with us we put a picture of their face on a stick and give them a place at the table...yes, really.
From building confidence and encouraging conversation to improving school performance, a regular family mealtime gets credit for a lot of seemingly unrelated outcomes. Along with reading to your children, I believe it is one of the most effective things we can do to develop vocabulary skills and the kind of every day memories that will one day make our babies want to come back home and share meals in the family dining room. And this doesn't even begin to touch on the obvious benefit of establishing healthy eating habits! If you're reading this and your kids are grown or you've never had children invite extended family, friends and neighbors. It'll be good for them too!
Some people find that a meal planning app is helpful, especially if you are short on recipes and find just the planning for grocery shopping as tedious a chore as I do. My favorite is Plan to Eat because it lets you drag recipes into a calendar then generates a shopping list for you. I believe you can try it out for a free 30 day trial. If you do that, look me up under "splintermom" and we can share recipes. And finally, lest I appear too Betty Crockerish, as I wrote this I was chomping down my leftover burrito bowl for lunch...by myself.
~Start small. If you are not already enjoying family meals together make a goal of one time this week, twice next week, three times the following week an so on.
~The food doesn't have to be fancy. One of my go to meals when the kids were little was fish sticks and boxed mac & cheese, and I still look forward to nights when the menu is "Festival of Leftovers".
~Keep the environment as positive as possible. Don't use the dinner table to address bad grades, the messy room or your obnoxious co-worker. Give each person at the table space to contribute to the conversation if they want, and make sure they know it's a safe place. The table should feel like a circle of comfort. That may not seem so obvious when you are talking about a food throwing toddler or a preschooler who just dropped mashed potatoes on their lap, but stick with it. These days my kids hardly ever drop their mashed potatoes...you'll get there!