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Eating Together?

January 26, 2012 by Dean Simmons, Registered Dietitian

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My son is just a few weeks old now. Before his birth, it was difficult to imagine life as a new parent. Three weeks in, I can say parenthood is humbling. Despite the prenatal classes and advice of friends, family and complete strangers, I feel very much like a novice as I learn who he is and how to best meet his needs.

Life has changed. His priorities are now our priorities and we spend most of our time focussing on getting the essentials done. Our sleep, while ‘essential,' has also changed. It's now a word we use in air quotes when saying things like "what a great ‘sleep,' we must have strung together a good four hours between periods of feeding, changing and soothing him."

Our meals have changed too. I used to take great satisfaction in regularly sitting down to share breakfast and dinner with my spouse. Eating together felt good and was a part of our family identity. However, for the past few weeks (even with the help of meals brought over by friends) we have been eating in shifts. One of us holds the baby, tending to his needs while the other eats. Then we switch.

I miss eating meals together and am eager for the time when all three of us can sit around the table together. Until then, I'm looking for ways to make the eating and feeding experience more meaningful than a strictly functional ‘get food into belly' experience. We've tried to at least both be in the dining area while one of us eats so that we can share a conversation. I'll admit that this shift eating isn't exactly mindful, but it keeps us both fed. We've spent many years eating as a couple and now it seems that we are learning how to eat as a family, adjusting to my son's stage of development as we go.

I would love to hear how other new parents try to keep meals meaningful while feeding the family.

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