Guest Post - The Importance of Ritual with Your Family

For a guest post, I asked our Baby FoodE Nutritionist Sara, to speak a little on the subject of Rituals when it comes to family dinner time. Her words moved me, and made me stop to think about our family dinner time. What we do now, what we can add to our everyday time together, what are we going to do for special occasions. The rituals you had as a child shape the person you are today. So I ask you, as we go hurtling into the busy Holiday season, what family rituals are you going to participate in? What is your favorite? How do you work in both your and your significant other different rituals?



As a mom, I know some days can feel like “Groundhog Day” or like that guy in the old Dunkin’ Donuts commercial “time to make the donuts…” with rituals maddeningly repeating themselves over and over again.  “Didn’t I just clean up from breakfast? I can’t believe it’s time for lunch already!” I say to myself at least once per week in utter amazement, as though there were a revolving door on my kitchen that goes ‘round and ‘round but never lets me out. Rituals associated with raising kids are ever-present. 

When we stop to slow down and see the beauty in those seemingly commonplace activities of our lives, ritual flourishes.  We must be truly present to adhere to the solemnity of ritual.  According to Webster Dictionary, solemnity means “the state or quality of being serious or dignified.”  In a hurry the other morning, I dropped a half a dozen of raw eggs on my kitchen floor.  There is no “dignified” in that.  But, when I stopped to study the preciousness of my daughter’s face as she concentrated on stirring the scrambled eggs, suddenly that breakfast ritual took on an almost spiritual awakening within me.

It’s that time of year when we adore the rituals of the season.  From raking (and jumping in) leaves to that steaming cup of hot cocoa to warm us up.  Our bodies and our minds look forward to the sensory buffet that comes with year-end. As a nutrition therapist, I encourage my clients to create personalized, new, simple rituals that bring more joy into preparing and eating food during the holiday season, in particular, which can otherwise be stressful and guilt-ridden due to an over-abundance of treats. 

Sit back for a moment, and envision meal time with its whole set of defined rituals that you participate in day after day.  First, the planning, the shopping, the prepping, the cooking.  Then, the table-setting, gathering to table, and any type of grace or gratitude for the food which will nourish your family’s bodies.  For me, ritual extends in to the conversations that recap our days at the family dinner.  Ritual is my little Molly making sweet arguments for not trying a new food.  Ritual is my son, Clay, steadily carrying plates to the counter.  Ritual is my husband asking me night after night to make (or buy) him a pecan pie which he loves so much.  Ritual…a game of rock-paper-scissors for who is on dish duty. 

Ritual is the yarn that weaves our emotional memory, and it is essential to create positive emotional memories around meal time for our children.  Because it helps them to develop healthy, happy relationships with food and their body.  I remind myself to smile each time I’m deeply entrenched in meal time.  A smile helps me appreciate more the meal time rituals that enrich each day.  And, as the whirlwind of the season surrounds me, I can focus more on the presence, solemnity, and spirit in all day-to-day actions.

-Sara Peternell