Love at the table?! This may sound a bit random or 'ah hem', something for the grown ups (insert cheeky wink). But yes. The table is a fantastic place for love.
It is all about the circle. Sitting inwards, facing each other forms a link, one that we don’t often get in any other environment. It taps into our primal need for community and protection, it makes us and particularly our little ones, feel safe.
Let’s talk again about eye contact. It is hugely important and something again that is becoming less frequent with the screen invasion we have in modern life. How often do we have to drag our eyes away from our screen in order to communicate with our children? How often do we have to drag their eyes away from a screen to communicate with us? Giving your family a space where eye contact is ‘freely available’ can have a remarkable impact on your family. It opens up conversation, connection, ensures that you really do listen to each other. It gives a space for bonds to grow and love to spread.
Being at the table together builds up valuable skills that will only enhance family life. It opens up an awareness of others, interaction skills, the opportunity to know each other better and therefore understand each other. Communication is one of the most vital elements in family life. If you ‘get’ one another, tensions break down, if you understand each other’s goals or simply their weekly plans, less opportunities for frustration arise.
Here are our top five ideas for turning table time into a place for LOVE.
1. THE 15 MINUTE JAR. Sit down together and make a jar of ‘family time’. This will be ideas of little things you can do together for 15 mins when you can grab an opportunity. Write all your ideas down and pop them in the jar. Eg: football in the garden, table-top ping pong (see PLAY), make something out of the recycling, read a book together, play a card game. ANYTHING really. You could even set a timer. That means everyone will focus on each other for those 15 mins. And it might even turn into an hour.
2. THE DEN. Why not use your table for a whole different purpose and turn it into a den?! Drape some sheets or blankets from each edge to make the walls and ta da … you have somewhere fun to play. Just mind your head 😊.
3. VISION BOARD. This is a brilliant one for communication and understanding each other. Take a sheet of paper each and divide it into sections …. Spare time, work / school, adventure, feelings. Map out on it what you want and how you want to feel. How can you help each other achieve their goals? For the whole low-down on vision boards and a ready-made template to fill in, check out our GROW family bundle.)
4. GRATITUDE. This may all be starting to sound a little too much like ‘The Waltons’, but bear with us! Noticing what we have and what we are grateful for can be a real game changer when it comes to boosting our positivity and how we view our life. If you regularly use the opportunity of sitting at the table together to each say one thing you are grateful for, it starts to open up positive conversations. Examples could be ‘I am grateful for .... my friend Vikki because she is fun’ or ‘the pancakes we had for breakfast’ or ‘the dog!’. It does not matter at all what it is. Make sure everyone gets a turn, even the grown-ups because it gives other a chance to listen and value each others input.
5. THE MEETING PLACE. Ever had a ‘family meeting’?! Think about it … all companies, charities, social groups meet to figure out the plan ahead. Why should families be any different? Although as grown-ups we are used to taking the lead, sharing the load can feel really good. This sounds formal and a bit dull? It absolutely does not need to be. Pop snacks and a drink in the middle of the table and make it into an occasion. A good chance to simply discuss the week ahead or something more meaty.
(Read the other two blogs on TABLE TIME, EAT and LOVE.)