It’s National Picnic Week, which reminded us of an amazing Do story that changed a family dynamic through the simple but powerful medium of food.
Last year, inspired by a Do from our Family and Parenting Programme, a mum in Norfolk took her family for a picnic UNDER the dining table.
Mealtimes were a battleground
Mealtimes had become something of a battleground. They habitually began with an argument about switching off Cbeebies and then, when Mum finally got the kids to the table, most of the meal would be spent trying to keep them there.
“If they weren’t arguing with me about how much they hated vegetables, they were arguing with each other.“ explains Mum. “It didn’t seem to matter what I gave them, if it wasn’t chips or ice cream, it felt like I had to coax, plead and sometimes even yell every little mouthful into them. If I didn’t just give in, I’d end-up threatening them with no pudding and no Peppa Pig – whatever I did I felt bad and healthy food went uneaten.”
Do make meals fun today
Suppertime was in a rut, food was no fun, Mum was fed-up. She’d tried to stick to the rules of traditional family mealtimes but it wasn’t working. So when she got a Do telling her: “Do make meals fun today. Get the kids cooking, eat somewhere different, go for a picnic, indoors or outdoors;” it felt like permission to break the rules.
That day, instead of watching telly, the kids helped her prepare the picnic and make a den under the table. And, guess what? They sat down for dinner with smiles on their faces, they didn’t try to run off, they ate the lot (well, more of the green stuff than usual) and, most importantly, they all had loads of fun together.
They’re eating better now
“We left the battleground above, for the picnic down below,” laughs Mum. Since then, they’ve been on picnics in various locations, both in and out of the house, and though they still do have meals ON the table, Mum has introduced other little changes that keep the fun in food and keep the kids involved. “It’s really helped to take the tension out of dinnertime. And they’re eating better!”