Tag Archives: connection

How Can Eating Together Improve Our Kids’ Well Being?

What’s It Like Eating Together?

Do you enjoy mealtimes together as a family, do you have time to sit together, are you happy with the food choices you make and feel you have good variety and balance, is eating with your kids an enjoyable, relaxed experience?

The Benefits of Eating Together

The knock on effect of eating together isn’t just that kids usually eat more healthily, studies have found there’s a whole host of other benefits including reduced stress, good mental health, improved grades, saving money, better family relationships and greater happiness, more here.

But We Don’t Have Time To Eat Together

Its not always easy though for us to eat together, life is busy with work, busy-ness, kids’ activities and maybe our kids aren’t great eaters, are getting on our nerves, and we don’t actually want to sit with them as it’s stressful!

What About The Fussy Eaters?

All kids go through stages of ‘fussing’ over food and it’s during these times that we may unitentionally reinforce it, so they end up with longer term picky eating habits. I once had a friend who for years at every meal ate only marmite sandwiches, luckily he survived and made it to adulthood and is now running marathons!

I’ve spoken to a number of parents whose kids eat well and their reasons for this resonate with mine, so I’ve created this blog with the intention it gives some fresh ideas to parents finding mealtimes a chore and who would like to sit together and communicate and connect more over meals and enjoy it more.   It’s not a ‘How To’ blog it’s a ‘How I‘ and what has worked for us.

JaneTyson.co.uk (3)I Don’t Like Potato

I’ve been teaching for 20 years and during lunchbreaks have seen many school kids pushing their food around their plates, pulling pained expressions that we are poisoning them with carrots, exclaiming the sauce is yucky, and the mashed potato is weird and makes them feel sick. They find it hard to control their cutlery and can’t wait to get away from the table and nor can the lunchtime staff who pace around with their cloths, waiting for the next year groups to take their places on the benches.

If you Don’t Eat Your Peas You Can’t Have Your Pudding

Once in school I discovered a child had hidden the food he didn’t want on his friend’s plate, I felt sad that he felt pressured to do this. Often adults with the best intentions feel that kids ‘should’ eat all their food and it becomes another negotiation situation – ‘If you eat your peas you can have your pudding,  two more mouthfuls and you can go out to play’ and the kids become agitated around their food and the adults anxious and controlling. Is it possible to be more relaxed about eating if we’ve already created an issue over it?

How can we Create Autonomous Happy Eaters?

Underlying all I have written below is looking for opportunities to give autonomy to our children. Think – can I allow my child to make the decision, is there a place for choice here?  By allowing our child more autonomy we give them some space to be and to take ownership of their eating. By including them in our family food decisions we can significantly relax our control and boundaries and we may discover our children become more relaxed across other areas of their lives, so these values are transferable.

Positive Role Models 

Along the way, I’ve been lucky to inherit a number of step sisters and brothers and a wonderful sister in law, all with children older than mine. I’ve observed their highs and lows and model what works well for them and this gives me confidence too to make mistakes, try things out and know that it all works out when you trust and expect it to. I think as parents we lack this connection with other role models and often feel isolated and insecure trying to work things out for ourselves, whilst being bombarded and confused by all the advice out there, including this!

Eating Together

Untitled design (12).jpgAs often as possible, when my kids were babies I ate with them.  This also included snacks and drinks, so I experienced hunger at the same time as them. We’d sit down at around 5.00pm for our tea and then I’d probably eat another meal later too.  To start with I did mush and puree their baby food.  I even went on holiday once with my steamer and ice-cube trays to freeze bloody butternut squash and sweet potato, no way was my child having a jar or packet. Then the second came and I was bored of steaming, the novelty and excitement had worn off, I didn’t care what anyone else thought and I was more realistic. My second child pretty much ate the same food as us from 6 months minus the salt, she made a complete mess yet it was fun and sociable and she didn’t turn much down.

Throughout their childhood we’ve continued to eat together and now they are older we still sit at the table together at least once a day. It might be  breakfast before school and if clubs aren’t on we’ll eat together at teatime too which often falls anytime between 5.00pm and 7.00pm.  Life is busier in new ways now with more time spent on screens, hobbies, and playing with their friends up the road.   My husband usually returns from work at 9.30pm,  so on the days he is home we all eat breakfast and an evening meal together and catch up.

Make Table Connection & Conversation the Priority

When they were babies I never did the ‘chocho’ train thing with the fork in my hand, infact I rarely had the fork in my hand it was always in theirs or they used their fingers. They were never rewarded with pudding if they ate all their food. I also have a strong aversion to sticker reward charts – and have studied lots of motivational theories over the past 25 years, following on from my studies in psychology and education, that align with this wayward thinking –  if they didn’t eat I just let it go without a fuss or eyebrow raise. If they did eat I did the same, I wasn’t attached to any outcome. I enjoyed being at the table with them, food wasn’t the priority, table conversation and connection was.

VarietyJaneTyson.co.uk (1)

Our food is varied with different textures and colours. Some days the children eat it all, others they just pick, often it depends on if they’ve had a snack too close to teatime or guzzled on juice. I have a jug of water on the table at teatimes as I find juice/squash fills them too much and reduces their appetite and then they are ‘starving’ an hour later!

Serving Suggestions 

I usually put food into serving bowls at the table, so they can just help themselves to what they fancy and measure their own portions too. There might also be bread & butter, cheese, crackers and salad on offer.

A Picky Phase

When they are going through picky phases, I still put the food out in the bowls and just let them be and go with the flow, it’s there if they want it. If there are foods they’ve not enjoyed before these continue to be put out until eventually they tuck in.

Meal planning 

We all sit down on Sundays together and go through our calendars and planners, again a lovely time to connect and communicate as a family. We often write down meals we would all like for the week too, these are a balance of freshly prepared and shop bought.

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my daugher warming food at the allotment

Cooking Together

I cooked a lot when they were little, I was busy running around after them, counting down to their next nap times  and feeling creatively underwhelmed, so used to get excited about planning meals and went to bed reading cookery books! Then I moved onto growing vegetables and knew most potato varieties, now it’s other random projects.

I  encouraged the children to join in with cooking as often as possible, such as squeezing oranges, grating cheese, making fruit crumbles and teaching them how to handle knives to chop. They soon learned how to make scrambled eggs, toast and open a tin of baked beans. They know how the oven and grill work and if I am out they will cook something for themselves and if I’m really lucky something for me too. We’re working on washing up.  I’m not home in the days so much now as I returned to working more,  so there are a couple of quick pasta and pie dishes each week for an easy life.

Shopping Together

Since they were very young they’ve created their own shopping lists. In the early days this really made learning to read and write meaningful, their pictures and words didn’t need to make sense it was just part of the process. They’d run along the aisles on their own to find things and again this gave them a sense of autonomy and shopping was always fun, we also gave opportunities to pay with real money as often as possible so they began to understand the value of it.  They still do get involved with shopping and pack the bags with me and key in my pin number at the checkout. They also enjoy spending their own money on tat from the toy and sweet sections. When we get home they unload and unpack into the fridge and cupboards too, surprisingly without a fuss, it’s actually fun doing this together.

At most stages of the shop to table chain they are involved and engaged.

Untitled design (5)Healthy Snacks

They go through stages of eating crap, and I don’t cook from fresh each night. It’s when I become aware of this that I put out healthier snacks  as well to compensate such as nuts, dates, chopped apple, cubed cheese, falafels, raisins, grapes, oatcakes, ricecakes topped with humus, chopped peppers, celery, carrots etc. We do have crisps and chocolate in the cupboards which they and I would always choose first so I  provide a ‘balance’ of choices.

Where Does Our Food Come From?

Many kids don’t know where food comes from.  We’ve been priviledged to grow vegetables at our allotment for the past 12 years, so the kids have been able to sow, grow and eat from scratch.

If you don’t have access to a garden or the opportunity to plant a few seeds maybe see if you can visit a friend who does, an allotment, garden centre or working farm. Most schools do have gardening projects, however I would say it can be rather tokenistic and dependent on the energy and enthusiasm of the staff member in charge (they have soo much other admin imposed on them, usually tipped towards Maths and English, outdoor learning gets given a low priority).  My kids’ School Council is very engaged with the school gardens, so it may be your school has similar or you start up a gardening club yourself!  Look also at food labels with them and world maps to plot which country food has come from and watch Youtube clips, here’s a clip for starters.

luke and me

Getting down with the potatoes in 2007

I’d really enjoy hearing from you and find out what inspires your children to eat well as it would be great to share it with children,  schools and parents. I obviously haven’t covered everything here, and hope it gives you some alternative ideas to try out.  Please do comment below.

My next ‘Happy Families’ workshop is listed here

allotment

The allotment in Summer

I would love to find out more about you and what you LOVE to do, my linked in profile is Jane Tyson

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Your Child Needs a Good Slap

My children are 22 months apart in age and when they were small the health visitor suggested I burn all the advice books I had surrounded myself with. I was stressed out thinking that I wasn’t getting things right because the book ‘said so’.   A particularly memorable morning was when one of them had climbed on top of the table and wee-d and the other simultaneously missed getting to the potty and poohed on the floor.  I certainly don’t look back at this moment with great relish but do remember laughing and seeing the humour in the situation whilst also  wanting to dial ‘Nanny 911’ for help. It’s also interesting it’s such a strong memory, I would love to go back to this point and give us all a big hug.

The Health Visitor also told me to go with my own intuition and to follow my head and heart. What beautiful advice.

Along the way,  I’ve learned that nobody is perfect, each family is unique, our values sacred to our own heart and home.

 

Another time when my daughter was playing up and not doing as she was told a friend said to me ‘your daughter needs a good slap‘. The words stung me as much as a slap would her.

This moment and more attempts at ‘discipline’ guided me to people and places where I developed a deeper understanding of what creates a feeling of a ‘good enough’ parent where you know you are getting it right despite what your children get up to or your friends say. A feeling of ‘I’m doing what’s in line with my values, my children are well loved, our head and hearts are in the right place and yes we still get on each others nerves and I get it wrong at times but that’s OK, we’re OK’

When I was out in Tanzania I met a beautiful yoga and meditation teacher/soul who said that from a Buddhist perspective my daughter had come to me as a teacher.  From this point my relationship changed with her and I now do look at Ellie as a person to learn from who mirrors my light and shadows.  She is a beautiful, determined, passionate, intelligent and independent soul and she really does have much to teach and I look back and admire her for not always doing what she’s told!

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My yoga and meditation friend in Tanzania with my daughter. We met in the Usembero Mountains on a bird spotting walk

We are now far better connected and the cracks in our hearts more healed.

There is more Har-Mum-Me

I’ll write about how we’ve created more connection which didn’t lead to a good slap for both of us another time.

Jane Tyson x

 

 

‘When children engage their senses with the world around them, they feel happier and more hopeful about life’ Marie Manuchehri

Finding Magic in the Woods with Luke.

Walk. Breathe. Stop. Notice. Smell. Breathe. Listen. Repeat

‘When children engage their senses with the world around them, they feel happier and more hopeful about life‘ Marie Manuchehri

‘Stop being weird mum’

woods

Chakra Number 2

JT x

#rewildthechild #mindfulness #summerfunandlearning

Mindfulopoly – Connection Through Collaboration & Play

My daughter’s main love language is ‘time’, for many children and adults ‘time is love’ Over the past 5 days we’ve played monopoly together. We’ve only got a little travel, she gets it all out and blu tacs the hotels in place each day. We play for about 30 – 45 minutes (her choice) and then take a photo of where we’ve got up to for the next time, and leave it out if possible. Yesterday,  I’d left the window ajar and the money blew everywhere.  With only 2 of us playing I feel this game could go on for about a year.

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We’ll get a new one soon

Phones and computers go off, head and heart connect, and present moment sits with us. We Mindfulopoly.  I’ve had to learn to not be bored when playing a board game, it wasn’t my thing really mainly because I wanted to be too physically and mentally on the go, she was the one teaching me a lesson.

I really look forward to this space we’ve been sharing together as I’ve seen how such a simple thing has deepened our connection. It’s sometimes working out the correct connection isn’t it? Next week it might be something different,  she certainly keeps me on my toes, well it’s a boot this week.

boot

JTx

Details of my next workshop – Correction Through Connection

Family Yoga Flow

Yoga At Home 

Would you like to have time during the week for yoga with your children, a time to connect, play, laugh, stretch, relax learn from each other and grow?  Perhaps you are finding it tricky to find a class and time to suit.  Practising yoga at home with your family can tick a lot of these boxes.

I’m going to share some ideas below for ways I’ve weaved it into my family life over the past 11 years and hope it gives you some ideas and confidence to try it at home too.

Post Natal Yoga

When my children were babies/toddlers I used to plug in a ‘Yoga for Post Natal Vitality‘ DVD with Wendy Teasdil and do a little here and there with them crawling over me and joining in. I figured they would just get used to the idea that ‘Mum’ did yoga and what it was. I don’t think there was so much online yoga around 10 years ago, now there is an abundance.  It wasn’t always that relaxing however it got me moving and I always felt better.

Yoga for Kids

As they grew, they often used to ask for this rather ackward yet fun happy clappy SunDance clip, and go around singing it. There’s other videos out there to choose from including the onesie lady from Cosmic Kids.

If you google ‘yoga for kids posters’ there’s loads you can print off like the one below. Have fun working through them and then you can make up your own stories, rhymes, games and moves. There aren’t any rules, you don’t have to stick to the names nobody is going to be judging or marking you. There’s also lots of yoga for kids books online and cards you could use if you wanted to take it further, but I don’t recommend spending as they will come up with plenty of ideas and there’s lots of free yoga support about.

How Long Should Yoga Take – Family Flow

There is no should, sometimes just 2 to 5 minutes of gentle breath work or holding a downward facing dog pose, can be enough to change a state.  What is your intention for doing it as this moment as a family – calm, joy, playfulness, energy, sleep?   if you are using online yoga choose a length that intuitively suits you.  if you are sharing yoga moves together and making them up just go with the family flow.

Yoga Begins in Savasanah

It is important to  rest in savasanah at the end, as yoga begins in this pose! It’s not easy for children to be still, however it’s good to model this pose, you can always play sleeping lions as an introduction. If you’ve had an energetic practice savasanah restores balance to the central nervous system, omitting it from our practice can leave us a little wired rather than relaxed, same for the kids.

abc yoga

Yoga with Older Children

My children are now 12 and 10 and they do sometimes join in with me, what I have noticed is that my son he is very keen on fitness, and he will often do his press ups alongside my yoga practice!  He’s been used to seeing me practice it daily.    It’s there if the children want it and I know it’s had/having a positive impact on them.  As they are older I’m not so restricted and get out more, if I can’t schedule in a class for myself at the leisure centre, then I’ll use this  fantastic online yoga platform which I subscribe too, there’s a few kids and teenagers classes on here as well – online yoga classes

Would love to know what works best for you and what resources you use, please do comment below.

Jane Tyson

Think Less, Feel More.

Children Love it When We Are Playful
What have you done today that has tapped into your playful side?
Maybe you’ve sung a song, danced while you hoovered or showered, laughed at yourself or got down with the kids and played in a paddling pool, on the swings, slid down a slide, had some fun making lunch with eachother, giggled at a TV show together?

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Our children love to  see us being playful, and when we are playful together it brings us to the moment- the present. We can all relax together,  enjoy one other, learn and importantly connect.
It doesn’t have to be an organised play activity, we can just sit alongside them and be with what they are doing. You could say –
‘I’m just going to sit here with you because I like your company and I enjoy being with you’
Then be quiet. (even with older kids you can try this, they might think you are quite strange to begin with but just see where it takes you)
Sit and do nothing.
Wait and see where they lead you…
Try not to think too much about it, just  enjoy being and ‘feel’ the experience and connect to them with your head and heart, ground yourself to where you are.
Maybe if you end up doing nothing then that’s OK, they might just enjoy some stillness, space and silence with you, perhaps it’s what you both need at this moment.
If you end up ‘doing’ then let them lead, avoid asking questions, judging, expecting, ‘shoulding’ –  go with the playful flow. Moment by Moment. Heart to Heart.
#parentingrascal

Lesson from a Festival – Connection, Collaboration and Community

This weekend my family and I have been at a festival called  ‘Camp Bestival’.  It’s something we’ve done for almost 8 years and has become our main summer holiday.

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We all love adventure and variety, but there’s something quite comforting about going back to the festival each year, the children love it and there’s always so many unexpected surprises.

ellie

I think the children also enjoy it so much because it connects us very much as a family, we aren’t distracted and are more physically, mindfully and heart-fully there for each other. 4 nights under canvas and  5 days wandering around fields is quite refreshing and tiring at the same time and helps us to reset and restore.

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It also gives us all time when we are there to visit things independently in a safe environment.

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I dipped in and out of the yoga fields which were free this year and  enjoyed learning new things and meeting refreshing new like-minded friends. I went to talks and sessions on  Qi Gong, Fusion Yoga, Grounding Meditations, a Self Care & Love talk, a Shamen Dance and Trance which ended up being quite profound and a talk on ‘How to Create a Happy Household’

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Recently, themes and words which keep dancing and singing to me are ‘collaboration, connection and community’and these again were  constantly reinforced at the festival.

I wanted to translate some of this learning into my yoga, meditation and parenting workshops and today have created this short video over here

festival

How are your holidays going.

Keep on Dancing x