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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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The tightrope of trust

One of the most endearing and terrifying questions a partner can whisper is “Babe, do you trust me?”

That terror-filled moment when an aeroplane takes off or the fear that explodes in your heart as the roller coaster descends comes somewhat close to this moment in any relationship. Next thing you’re lost in the details of wedding preparation. The decisions, the expectations and the angst can test even the closest relationship.

One of the greatest lessons I have learnt in marriage is to find peace in the midst of difference. Gracing each other with the opportunity to grow together as a couple no matter what happens. Seasons change as your marriage unfolds and each new day brings a new set of challenges. Not only do we need to learn to communicate and trust one another but bring a village of people around us to bring wisdom and strength.

When my partner and I first lived together, we argued endlessly about the placement of our artwork. We lived in a beautiful yet tiny Hawaiian beach shack. After the thank-you cards had been sent and the gifts put away the journey began to find a style that suited both of our very diverse tastes.

My style could be described as eclectic, repurposed and colourful. My new husband’s preference was minimalist, monochrome and modern. This journey became the greatest lesson of trust in our newly formed family. Little by little, we learned to understand and love each other’s quirks and difference. Understanding when we each made a choice that was different to one another, it wasn’t bad or good, just different.

This is what makes trust such an unusual part of marriage. Every person has a different perspective and the moments that have impacted the preferences that we now hold as our own opinion are valid.

Interior design may have been a pressing point of conflict in our early years of marriage but it highlighted something that I never realised has the opportunity to be a breaking point in many marriages. Finding a way to trust people in the midst of diversity. It is a lesson many people do not surrender to and the ensuing conflict can be heartbreaking.

It is easy to gather around people who think like you and have similar tastes, thoughts and cultural preferences. What about those who think very differently to you? How can you find a way to thrive in the midst of diversity?

Learning to allow one another to have different opinions and preference is the beginning point of the tightrope held between people of trust. Being able to hold that tension tight between one another and learning to walk along the beauty oƒ complexity.

The language of love is immersed in moments where trust is tested. Without opportunities to stretch these muscles of opportunity between one another, to allow each other grace, beauty and autonomy.

These early years of discovery became a foundation of our family culture. Today we delight in renovating and coming up with a mix of both our styles. It has impacted every area of our life especially now our family has grown to a group of four very different individuals. Being able to accommodate opposing thoughts, opinions and personalities to thrive under one roof.

Lessons learnt from something so simple have reverberated out across the village we need so deeply to raise our family with strength. We have learnt as a family, the greatest way we can exist together is to exist within a community and find people that want to learn from one another.

When we became parents for the first time we realised that we needed help. The diversity that we found in parenting was not only confusing but asked us to trust the experience of those who had gone before us. We had to walk that tightrope again and ask family members, friends and neighbours to hold parts of our life.

Have you ever walked a season where you needed to trust someone?

Each and every one of us will go through seasons of stress and change, maybe emotional tiredness or great success. When these seasons come and go, the greatest gift we can give to ourselves is to learn to trust another to bring a community to the core of our personal ecosystem. To be able to do this with strength and courage, however, the beginning point is learning to allow one another to thrive within the deep chasm of our own personal experiences, strengths and weaknesses.

Who could have thought that the placement of artwork in our little beach could be the beginning of something so formative in our marriage?

Next time you find yourself conflicting with your partner about something, it could just be the beginning of a beautiful awakening.

Amanda Viviers is an Author, Speaker and Novice Mum. Her latest book New Days can be found here

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Building Trust

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Trust is such a loaded word. It is layered by memories filled with disappointment, unmet expectations and dysfunction.

Have you ever said I trust you, but really on the inside, you are shaking?

Wisdom tells us that we are to live lives that produce trust in the relationships of those closest, even when we feel like our trust has been broken.

Can you be serious wisdom?

Proverb 31: 11-12

A candle loses nothing from lighting another (1)

One of the greatest gifts I have been given in the early days of marriage is a partnership with someone who always believes the best in me. My husband is a man of few words but he remains firmly planted in the moment and when he speaks it is always in a situation that is present rather than difficulty that has passed. I am learning that a life of wisdom is a consistent one.

A routine filled with similarity can bring with it boredom but a life full of hope, built on a foundation of wisdom produces trust. We call our family unit a team. Not because it is something that we heard someone cute say once and we wanted to copy, it is a deep commitment to each other that we are all playing together towards the end goal of living a deeply satisfying life of contribution.

When my husband is working long hours, he trusts and knows that the rest of his team is at home, safe and backing him in his pursuit of provision. When I am out speaking and mentoring people, I know that my little partners in creative crime are home safe and sound, living out the beauty of a messy life.

We work together to bring good. We are not in competition with one another. We listen, we care and we are deeply positive about the potential of what we can do when our hearts and values live aligned.

One of the greatest ways that trust erodes, is a family that is constant in its attack of one another. Where words become weapons and no matter what happens the attack is quarrelsome and fierce.

Proverb 27: 15- 16

A quarrelsome wife is annoying as constant as dripping on a rainy day.

Stopping her complaints is like trying to stop the wind or trying to hold something with greased hands.

Have you ever tried to hold something of worth with greasy hands?

It is terrifying. That’s what it feels like to live a life with someone who is always on the defence. Someone who is attacking everything and without even knowing is trying desperately to pull down any sense of achievement in the family unit because competition, jealousy and emotional dysfunction take a hold. Trust cannot be built in this environment.

Do you long for an environment of peace in your household?

What are your expectations doing to the atmosphere?

Is your internal peace destabilising the core of your team?

When you live your lives quarrelling, when there are always unmet expectations, trust cannot be built. If you long to live in an atmosphere where those closest to you can clearly say they trust you reciprocally, then maybe a little clean out of expectations and quarrels may be required in this season.

Trust is built, it is not given.

Happy Monday Friends,

Amanda