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Changing Meal Culture for 2019 in our family!

If I could change one thing for 2019 in my families daily routine, it would be the pain around mealtime culture. Six o’clock is one of the most painful times of my day. I am exhausted, my kids are over it and the table sitting in the middle of my kitchen becomes our battlefield.

Mealtime culture brings with it a whole heap of triggers from my childhood. By accident, we stumbled upon something that was genius in our mealtime family peace, and it is simply this.

We bought a roundtable. A gold moment of revelation; when everyone sits equally around the table. 

One of the things that has profoundly changed my 2018, is sitting at our roundtable and surrendering to the pain that I have found waiting there. I find it difficult to relax at the dinner table and enjoy my meals with the intensity of that time of day with the age of our children. I eat as fast as possible to skip over the drama that is sure to unfold, and I retreat to the sink.

How about your family?

Is mealtime peaceful or is it a time of all-out war!

Four Thoughts That Have Helped Me Shift Meal Time Culture In My Family

HIGH POINTS AND LOW POINTS

Conversation and food go hand in hand don’t they?

Yes, when friends sit around with a glass of wine, or a board game in front of us. Full of cheer, beauty and maybe a big ham at Christmas with a pot of mustard on the side.

But what about the times when sleep is in our eyes, as dawn breaks a new day?

I don’t want to speak to anyone or the times when my husband comes home after a twelve hour shift and I have spent the afternoon trying desperately to negotiate between my children. This year we brought a simple question to our roundtable that has helped conversation flow in the tenure of our little team.

The question is this;

What was a high-point from your day today?

Then often on the back of this question comes the divulging of a low point as well. Teaching our children to talk at the dinner table has brought with it a focus and peace in our family each afternoon. It has also become a simple communication tool between a husband and wife, who are desperately trying to juggle all there responsibilities in a career balancing act.

EATING FROM NATIONS OF THE WORLD

Mealtimes often brings with it, emotions around dislikes, outbursts of frustration and fear. Recent studies show that the culture of a families dinner table directly impacts teenage obesity and dietary habits. It is a problematic part of family life, especially with young children and different dietary needs — the difficulty surrounding families with budgets, nutrition and understanding the complexity of the changing nature of information around healthy eating.

We have started to introduce countries of the world in the way we eat as a family. With music, different tastes and kinds of foods and distracted our children with facts and stories from these different and diverse cultures.

We want our children to explore the global diversity that is found across mealtime cultures. Finding ways to introduce new tastes and experiences though can be really tough. It brings interest outside of the food on the table and helps them find simple pleasures in trying something new.

SITTING AT THE TABLE

The last thing I feel like doing often is sitting at the table and facing the people who see me at my best and worst. I am definitely not that bright and sparky morning person. It takes me a few coffees or hours to find my words and thoughts clearly.

I have been really trying to change the culture that I knew of sitting in front of the television to eat, or eating takeaway in the car. Finding ways to sit at the table, to breathe, to talk and find rhythm has been a huge shift in culture this year in our meal time routine.

How often do you sit at your table and eat mindfully?

THE WORD DIET HAS BEEN BANNED IN OUR HOUSE

The word diet has been banned in our house. I was put on my first diet when I was about eight years of age and pretty much every year since I have embarked on some kind of eating restriction program. The problem is it works sometimes, but mostly it has become an up and down regime of cycles of food addiction and complexity that has never helped. I don’t want my daughter to grow up thinking that food is her enemy or her comfort. The language we have chosen for our house is that food is fuel. That is it. Food is not a reward. Food is not a punishment. Food is not comfort. It is fuel. Therefore food is not good or bad, it is just an every day food or a sometimes food. Removing the emotion and shame based dialogues around this part of our everyday life. I know friends and family who start a new diet every Monday and then come back to a place again of failure and reinforcing the shame based patterns.

The word diet has been banned in our house because we want our children to grow up with a healthy sense of how to live a life that honours the body they have been given.

How do you react to the word diet?

Take the time to talk about the culture of mealtimes in your family. I have created a family vision book tool this year, that you can download and start conversations like this with your family and partner.

DOWNLOAD TODAY

TOGETHER; NEW YEAR VISION DAYBOOK

Are there some simple ways that you can make a small change next year?

This simple tool will help you define and articulate the culture in your family home.

Amanda Viviers

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Rest. Can you? 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe irony of the season I find myself is this; Novice motherhood has taught me to rest. Ridiculous I know, but it is only by giving up so much that I have realised how out of control my stress and career was.

Sixty hour weeks, two and a half hours of heavy traffic in peak hour, always feeling like I was letting someone down, working the whole weekend. It is only now that I have come to realise how important rest is in the balance of a life sown generously.

You cannot give to someone out of what you have not sown in your life. If you are scraping the bottom of a deep well of energy stores, you are often robbing not only yourself of a quality of life but your family as well.

We all need at least one day of rest a week.

One day of no social media

One day of long walks interspersed with deep breaths.

We all need times of sleeping in.

Pyjama days.

Movie Marathons.

Rolling moments of rest and relaxation.

Maya Angelou, one of my favourite writers explains her need for this brilliantly…

Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us. Maya Angelou

I find in my line of work that creatives need this more than anyone. You cannot produce out of something you have not grown in resting inspiration time. My current muse is knitting. I rest while my hands and head engage in something that is creative and meditative. I love that if I am knitting my phone is not in my hand and I am free from the head space that the internet steals from my inspiration tank.

For you it might be music, writing, playing on the piano, taking photos.

Eating with friends, meditation, sport.

What makes you feel most rested?

Maybe a 48 hr weekend once a month with no phone, internet going back to the basics with loved ones like our family easter farm trip. Maybe it is the beach. Maybe it is going for a run. Maybe it is extended times of sleep.

Whatever it is that you need, make sure you schedule it in to happen.

You cannot keep giving out of a place that has not been refilled regularly.

Rest, Can you?

It is a learnt skill. One that I am so grateful for this pause season in my life for.

A season where the corporate ladder and success has not taken over my life.

For the first time in a long time, I am in control of what I say yes and no to and it is seriously the freest place anyone could ever live in.

So grateful.

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i admire…

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Admiration is a beautiful opportunity in a world full of so much judgement.

I admire people for many different reasons…

Mostly silently whilst I walk the shops, times when I sit and watch a documentary, sometimes at the beach as someone walks past slowly.

I admire single parents. I cannot imagine the late nights, with a sick child alone, those times when there is no one to hold your hand, when you wait for answers from the doctors. I admire your tenacity, I admire how you keep on going. I admire the two jobs you juggle just to make ends meet. If you are a single parent, I have never judged or discounted your opinion, I admire every single part of your being.

I admire people over eighty. Even when they are a little cranky, I kind of like it. They have so much perspective to give. I ask my Grandmother questions all the time. Most responses come with a roll of her eyes, but I know secretly she loves it and even more than that I know she appreciates my attention. I especially love watching old people in love. It does something to my soul that I cannot explain. Seeing an elderly man, grab the hand of his silver haired lover, makes my heart race with romance and hope for the future.

I admire creative entrepreneurs. Writers, dancers, poets, social media content creators, film students. Anyone taking their view of the world and having a go. Anyone, who has written something and dared to press publish. Any one who has gone back to university in pursuit of realising their dreams. I admire the creative folk, who celebrate another persons weird. Who don’t back bite, compete, copy and compare. Who just run their race and make things happen. I admire the risk takers, the music makers, the mummy bloggers, the dance teachers. I think you are all rad.

I admire my husband and his work colleagues, who spend their days with young people at risk. People who take a chance on a young adult, who has attitude to boot and opinions bigger than the bell tower. I admire youth workers, youth chaplains, youth pastors, youth leaders, youth juvenile officers, social workers. People who create opportunities for the future of our nation to find freedom in the beauty of living a simple and moral life.

I admire cleaners. I watch and thank janitors, rubbish men and food hall cleaners all the time. I appreciate their attention to detail. I appreciate how hard they work for their families. I am humbled by their selflessness in taking time to serve another. Whether they are paid or not, I think they are the salt of the earth. Our country is blessed with the beauty of cleanliness, because someone cared enough to take our over abundance of rubbish away. The event managers, the program coordinators, the production personnel, all the people that create beautiful environments that we enjoy so often without attributing to their efforts.

I admire those in our community who overcome insurmountable odds. The mothers and fathers who have had sick children long term, the parents who were once orphaned who now raise a family with pride. The visually impaired, the hearing challenged, those who have lost limbs, those who have been in tragic accidents. I admire tenacity. I admire pure grit. I admire an overweight person jogging down our beach. I admire people who wear their bikinis with pride after a mastectomy. I admire the depth of the human spirit, to dig deep and push through even when it hurts. I admire people who don’t play the victim but get help and move past the tragedies that have ensnared them.

I admire the everyday person who is honest. Who tells the truth. Who isn’t trying to be something that they are not.

I admire the person who says sorry, who owns their part to play in the breakdown of relationship, who restores, forgives and trusts again.

I admire anyone who has been hurt in love, who loves again.

I admire kind humans. The person that believes the best and loves deeply.

If you are any of these things, it is quite possible I have spent time thinking about how amazing I think you are.

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fighting addiction

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My name is Amanda and I have an addictive personality.

The thought of having one coffee and then getting on with my day is foreign. If I like something I want more of it and quickly it becomes a crutch, a place of weakness, an addiction.

Last Easter, I fell in love with a little rabbit. Something so small, that every shop and every checkout seemed to be calling my name. This bunny taunted me. At the petrol station, at cafes, it was everywhere. You could be mistaken to think that this little childish dessert was innocent, but I found them to be evil.

The dessert that has plagued my lenten dreams was this little rabbit. Twenty two thousand people agree with me, that the Cadbury Cream Egg no longer reigns supreme as the Easter bunnies competitor, the malt laden bunny has taken over the race.

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Whether it be coffee, or a fresh loaf of bread from the oven or a Malteaser Bunny at this time of the year, I am trying my best to live a healthier everyday. One of my biggest goals this year is to loose my pregnancy weight.

Healthily.

Full stop.

I stood at the chemist last week and stared at the aisle of diet shakes, reading them intensely wanting to believe the promises they heralded. I wanted a quick fix, a get-the-ball rolling, helping hand. I walked the beach with my man today and we talked about this area of weakness in my life. We talked, we stretched, we exercised.

He reminded me of the pact I had made with myself, earlier this year. He reminded me of the promise. That I would make small changes. Good changes. I would find the areas of addiction in my world and say no to the bunny. I would not make these changes out of a place of negativity and lack, but to pursue health as a great lifestyle choice, that will never end.

I’m not dieting.

I’m not even going to say no to the bunny for good.

But I am facing the areas where emotional eating have become routine and making choices to choose wisely.

What areas of addiction are you facing?

Is it that late night dessert or the whole packet of biscuits?

Is it throwing up after a meal?

Is it a sneaky cigarette?

Is it one or two or maybe four glasses of wine every night?

I ask these questions, not because I want to intrude. I ask these questions, not to evoke shame.

I ask these questions because I struggle too. Being a mumma is hard. Being single is harder. Being alone is ugly sometimes. It is these days that we need community and friends to ask questions that healthily bring us back to a place of equilibrium.

A place of peace.

Best place to start is admitting it to yourself and the greatest, bravest step towards recovery is admitting it to someone else.

Be brave,

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how do I relax?

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Most mornings whilst we were away my husband and I did some form of stretching or a yoga class. We’re not hugely into the spiritual side of yoga, but the increased flexibility and teaching of mindfulness is beautiful. It has really helped me find a simple way to get back into exercise after having a baby six months ago.

One morning we ran out of our room so we could grab a coffee on our way to class and then we settled into a session with the most patient and kindest teacher we have each ever encountered.

To be truthful she was very plain.

Plain in a good way.

Simple.

Honest.

Descriptive.

Encouraging.

She wasn’t asking for attention or demanding our presence. She was soft, graceful and forgiving.

As we started the class, I looked out at the view above to see a mix of my current favour hues of colour.

A little bit of aqua, a lot of white and a smattering of grey. The smokey mist of an ocean that is wild, with green, blue, grey, black and white competing for my attention.

I took a deep breath and remembered simple things like colour that made me relax and get ready to find my strength again. Two pregnancies in three years have really taken their toll on my body and I am really determined to find ways to rediscover my strength again.

We moved into the routines and in the middle of a pose, she said something that I had never even considered before.The most perfect analogy for where I am at in my creative place and novice motherhood. She said this ‘Breathing is like a massage for your insides.’

Simple thought, profound results in my days since. I am the sort of person that hungers for a massage.

‘Charl, please rub my feet.’ I would say most evenings, even ‘Max, come here I will show you how to massage Mummy’s shoulders.’

My body holds stresses in specific places, but even more interesting is the power of breathing to help with stress and creative output.

As I want to react to a stressful situation, a simple breath is truly like a massage for my body on the inside. It is a quiet opportunity, to reconnect with peace and be slow in my reaction to stressful situations.

A deep breath.

A long breath.

It is a gift that we give to ourselves.

The art of relaxation can be founded on this simple statement from my yoga instructor. ‘Breathing is like a massage for your insides.’

A silly little thought in someways, but extremely liberating in the art of letting go and allowing peace to reign.

Are you struggling to relax?

Do you find anxiety is replacing peace in your days?

Why don’t you start with the basics, with me and take a deep breath and remember the simple things that you are grateful for.

Till we meet again tomorrow,

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Through the month of March I am joining Em and writing with these prompts from Life Captured inc