Avoid Family Mealtime Chaos

Even as I begin to write this I’m feeling a little exhausted. Knowing that in an hour or so I’ll begin preparation for the daily ritual of dinner. The offering of something nutritious and wholesome that will be enjoyed and appreciated by….what the hell am I saying? Dinner can be hell! The pre-clean because the kitchen somehow looks like a pack of hangry teenage boys have gone wild in there each day. The staring blankly at cupboards in an attempt to absorb inspiration. The chopping, frying, baking, boiling. The “STOP!… Please don’t touch… Dinner is literally 2 minutes away… Where did you get a knife from?” “What smells like burning?!”

Then there’s the guilt train, it chugs along slowly until you start contemplating nuggets and chips for dinner. “Oh i can’t!” Of course any mum knows that yes, yes you can.

This is even before the event itself! Challenge #1 is sitting down. Together. At the same time. Keeping bums on highchairs/seats for long enough to eat (and chew properly) is an Olympic sport.

Challenge #2 talking. Not yelling, not frustrated pleading to keep food on plates, not checking in to see if the dog got fed or the drycleaning got picked up (do people actually do drycleaning?), but real human to human connection.

Healthy family meals are about so much more than the food alone. So don’t stress mama, “junk” food and a big cuddle is sometimes the best dinner going around.

Healthy family meals are about so much more than the food alone. So don’t stress mama, “junk” food and a big cuddle is sometimes the best dinner going around.

Family mealtimes are a forgotten art. They are a long lost remedy for the stresses of daily life. We so need to re-kindle the spark within our homes and re-instill the importance of connection with our partners, parents and kids.

This is one area I help women with, and the transformation within themselves and families is truly beautiful. There are ways you can begin to steer the ship back on course, and you can begin today. If this is an area you struggle with, make the commitment today to put these points into practice.



dinner time as fun, nutritious, quality time… I know I was sceptical too. You got this.

  1. Share.

    One of the best ways to make any lifestyle change is to share it with the world. You need your support crew. If you are a 2 parent household this is especially important. Communicate! Get everyone in on it, your partner, the kids, the grandparents, anyone who will help you celebrate the wins and stay strong in the challenging times. Just lay everything out and explain why this is so important to you.

  2. Make it fun.

    This just won’t work as a dictatorship. Get the kids and other family members involved. Have them take turns in choosing a recipe and cooking the meal, help with the shopping, setting the table, creating a dessert, selecting a dinner playlist… anything age appropriate and fun. If the kids are old enough, encourage them to take some of the responsibility and control. For young ones, think simple games. Your imagination is the limit - naming vegetable colours, juggling potatoes and turning the cooking process into a Disney musical are some of my classics. Just make it a deliciously happy time.

  3. Disconnect to reconnect.

    Apart from music, technology is now banned at the dinner table. No phones, no tablets, no headphones, no “oh i just quickly have to reply to that”. Nope. Get a designated basket/box (I know mums who use a lock box) for phones. All phones are placed in for the duration of dinner. If you are really game, they can stay there overnight. When was the last time you got so caught up in chat and story telling and laughter that you lost track of time? The last time you prepared a meal without feeling rushed? We no longer allow ourselves the juicy ritual of absorbing each others company (juicy and absorbing in one sentence….you’re welcome). Bring this ritual back into your home and put down the bloody phones.

  4. Routine and tradition.

    We are creatures of routine and habit. Getting into a rhythm with mealtimes is a way of checking in with everyone at the end of a busy day. It keeps us connected and involved in each others lives. Try to eat at the same time each night when possible, and start to create new family traditions. If there are shift workers in the family or people absent regularly send a text at the same time or make it a weekend family breakfast instead. Be proactive, design your lifestyle. Growing up in our home we had burger night every Friday, I know some families who do a takeaway night, Sunday morning cooked breakfast, others who do Mexican night or “kids choose” night (be afraid, be very afraid).


It doesn’t matter what your family looks like. Conventional or not. Large or small. Human babies, fur babies or neither. You deserve a happy home. I would so love to hear about what you are struggling with right now, and what you’re celebrating. Let me know!

Ellie McMahonLillako