Using Food To Create Connection

After a long day last week, I lay awake in bed thinking: “All I did today was food: I bought food, put away food, cooked food, served food, cleaned up food, prepared for tomorrow’s food (oh, and ate food somewhere along the way, I think…).

Food, food everywhere.  Blah.  I was sick of it.

I recognize that as a result of having a big, fun, active family (that I wouldn’t trade for the world) there are big, unavoidable consequences.  Namely- laundry and food.  Lots and lots of laundry and lots and lots of food.

I’ve been getting pretty good at the laundry part.  (I quite often give my washer and dryer a small kiss and hug.  And eat a small chocolate treat in their presence.  Because they deserve it.)  But the food part?  I had a terrible attitude about it.  It was becoming a major drudgery and I hated it.

But I found a way to change my attitude.

Here’s how I did it:  I simply switched my reason for preparing food.  Instead of doing it just to “keep everyone alive”  my reason became  “to create connection.”  I began using food to create small moments of connection throughout the day.

It hasn’t change the amount of time or work in the process, but it has flipped my attitude and created something with a bigger, more important purpose.

Let me give you an example.

With the start of school, I began writing small notes in my kiddo’s lunch boxes.  I’ve never done this before.  It always seemed like one extra, frivolous thing to do.  But with the mindset of “using food as a connection”  I began writing small notes and tucking them in lunchboxes.

This has had two benefits: First, the evening before, as I packed lunches and wrote notes, I took a minute to think about the day my kids had coming up.  Maybe any big events or tests or worries.  I pondered and prayed over how I could help them or what they needed to hear from their mom.  Food gave me a few moments every night to connect with and bless my kids.

And secondly, it gave my kids a small taste of mom in the middle of the day.  A little slice of protection and love.  And unbeknownst to me, my middle school daughter has been putting them up in her locker.  She now has a collage of mom and dad notes whenever she opens it up.

Could a mother’s heart ask for anything more?

Food is such a routine in our lives (that just keeps coming and coming and coming). 🙂  Let’t harness that powerful routine to reconnect our families.

Here are some ideas that I’ve been using.  I hope it can be a starting place for your own ideas.

  • Breakfast:  Use this time at the breakfast table for more than just eating.  As your kids come to the table with bleary, sleep-fulled eyes, sing songs, read uplifting stories, pray together.  Create a morning that will bolster and carry them throughout the day.  It only takes a few moments.  Even if you just give each one a big, good-morning-I-love-you hug and look in their eyes.  That is connection.  If you have big and little kids coming in different shifts, you can still create moments with each of them.
  • Notes in lunchboxes: (I already wrote about this, but try it- it is a fun way to connect).
  • Lunchtime:  I use this time to reconnect with myself.  I take 30 minutes to just do something I want to.  Whether it’s watching useless YouTube videos, reading a book, staring off into space.  I do something that just I want to do.  It recharges me for the rest of the day.
  • Afternoon snack:  This one kind of comes naturally.  If you’re able to be home when the kids roll in, just be available.  Put your phone in the other room.  Put a healthy snack on the table AND JUST LISTEN.  It tends to be a crazy time of day, but if you choose to embrace the loud chaos, and simplify your own tasks, it becomes a magical time for kids to recharge and refuel.
  • Dinner:  I love family dinner.  I’ve written a post about it here.  Make this time important and consistent.
  • Dishes:  Even doing dishes can be a point of connection.  We have declared that dishes can’t be done without music blasting.  We turn up the music and dance around while we clean.  Or maybe a quiet conversation with a worried child, while you wash and she dries.
  • As a peace-offering:  My daughter and I had a disagreement yesterday.  She stormed off into her room.  A few minutes later, I brought in a bowl of fresh, chilled blueberries, sat on her floor and listened while she ate and vented.  That miracle was provided courtesy of food.

There are so many ways to use food to create connection.  My ideas are flowing.  How could you use grocery shopping to create connection?  Or cooking?  Or meal planning?  And then on to holidays.  They are ripe with ideas to create fun traditions around food.  I could go on and on…..

The possibilities are endless.  Try a new one today!

Love Dawnie