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How to Change Stressful Dinners With Kids Into Precious Family Time

How to Change Stressful Dinners With Kids Into Precious Family Time
    From CivilEats.com

    Meal times are one of the cornerstones of your daily routine. They can be the most joyous part of your day or the most dreaded part of your day.

    When you have small children it is very important that you be consistent and that they sit down to eat at roughly the same times every day. It’s also important that those times are spaced far enough apart so that your kids have an appetite for what’s put in front of them, but not so far apart that the run-up to every meal is marked by the kind of bad behaviour and irritability that’s triggered by hunger and low blood sugar levels.

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    Meals though, are not just about getting the right amount and type of food into your kids at the right time. They’re also occasions when your family can be together sharing news, talking over what everyone’s been up to during the day, sharing successes and disappointments as well as just enjoying each other’s company.

    My family also uses meal times to share how we helped someone or made someone smile that day.

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    In many families, meal times are not so enjoyable. Instead, they’re running battles to get kids to eat, behave, or just sit down at the table. How do you turn this scenario around so that mealtimes become one of your favourite times of the day with your family?

    The first step is to establish some ground rules. Here are seven rules that can help family dinners turn into precious family time:

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    1. Children should wash their hands before they eat.
    2. Children need to sit at the table and not run off.
    3. TV stays off during meals.
    4. Children need to finish chewing before speaking.
    5. No one answers the telephone during meals.
    6. Children need to eat nicely – no playing with their food.
    7. Children need to TRY something – if they don’t like it that’s fine, but they must TRY it. If they truly try something and really don’t like it then they are free to eat the side dishes.

    These rules are pretty simple which make it easy for you to reinforce. If your child breaks one of the rules, use this phrase:

    “Ella, (of course use your own child’s name here), you need to ________________ (finish chewing your food before you speak. We don’t talk with food in our mouths.)”

    The key words here are, “You need to” and “We”. These words teach your rules and values clearly and concisely but they also join you as a family instead of placing blame or belittling. When your child hears, “We” they hear, “Oh, yeah, that’s what my family does” instead of, “I’m bad again”.

    If your child continues to misbehave or break a rule after this reminder then you can use my 4 Step Discipline Technique.

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    A couple of other things to make sure meal time is relaxing:

    • Ease up. Gradually give your baby (child) the opportunity to experience independence because it’s what they crave. As soon as your baby can sit upright, without additional support, bring the high chair to the table. Let her feed herself as much as possible – with finger foods to start off with.When she’s big enough, give her a booster seat. Try not to make a 2 1/2 or 3 year old be stuck in a high chair drinking from a bottle or sippy cup – they are beyond this. It’s okay though to have a 2 – 2 1/2 year old wear a bib until they can show you they don’t need it, but try to allow them to practice being independent.
    • Use a speaking object, if necessary. Sometimes families, larger ones especially, struggle because everyone wants to speak at the same time. Decide as a family on what object could be used to show whose turn it is to talk. It could be the salt shaker or something more special like a shell someone found on a family holiday. Pass this object around to ensure that only the person with it in front of them is speaking.

    Use these tips and tricks consistently and I guarantee that meal times will become one of your most favourite times of the day!

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    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

    Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

    Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

    1. Get Rationally Optimistic

    Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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    This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

    In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

    The result: no more mental stress.

    2. Unplug

    Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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    How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

    It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

    Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

    3. Easy on the Caffeine

    Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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    Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

    4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

    That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

    How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

    • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
    • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
    • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

    While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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    5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

    This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

    The result: mental stress will be gone!

    So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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    Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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