5 Tips to Make Family Mealtimes More Mindful
The hectic workday is over. As you pull into your driveway, you feel relief because you’ve finally escaped cranky co-workers, deadlines and traffic jams. Now, you can spend the next few hours relaxing at home with your family. What better way to enjoy this time than with a delicious meal together?
Sometimes, the lingering stress can be hard to shake, especially if you’re in a rush to get dinner on the table. You can shed your stress and make this time together more meaningful. Consciously ease into the transition from work mode to family mode, and use these tips to make your evening meal more relaxing and mindful.
1. Take a breath.
As soon as you get home, take a few minutes and chill out. Shake off any lingering “fight or flight” stress response that’s making you feel tense and on edge. With deep breathing techniques — the kind that gets your belly moving — you’ll lower your heart rate and feel much calmer. Sit in your favorite chair, soften your gaze and start those long, drawn-out inhales and exhales, counting your breath if needed. Just by transitioning into this calmer state, you’ll set the right mood and standard for the rest of the evening.
2. Give the devices a timeout.
Being mindful is all about staying in the present and following each action with intention and awareness. But when your mobile device is pinging from the latest Facebook update, text message or news alert, that can distract us from this calm and aware state of mind. For now, while you’re preparing and eating the meal, put the devices out of reach — or in another room, if that’s practical.
3. Include the kids.
With technology out of the way, it’s easier and more pleasant to focus on the people in the room. If your kids are hanging around the kitchen, take it as a sign that they want to be with you, so use this time to connect. A great way to do this is to include the kids with meal preparation. The youngest ones can rinse fruit and vegetables, cut soft food with a butter knife and tear lettuce. Older kids can help measure ingredients, stir and whisk, and eventually peel food with a paring knife.
4. Simplify your menu.
Eliminate the stress of getting weeknight meals on the table, and meal prep; build a list of delicious go-to meals that you can prepare with ease.
5. Slow down and savor the food.
Give yourself a few moments for mindful eating. Before earnest conversation begins, put your focus on the food you’ve prepared. Put down your fork, and pay attention to the flavors, the textures and how you respond to them. No matter how hungry you are, don’t rush. Mindful eating is all about pacing yourself and staying in the moment to experience the delicious meal you are eating.
After a long day, you can make the evening meal more relaxing and enjoyable by bringing a mindful approach to dinnertime. When it’s time to eat, you’ll be in the right state of mind to enjoy your food, as will the people around you.