Shared Meals Matter Blog

Apr 4th

Would YOU secretly hack your own family’s tech devices?

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I love how technology can help us to grow together in new ways.  This device (created in Australia by a company called Domila) is called a “Pepper Hacker.”   It’s a sneaky but effective way to help families realize that there is a time and place for technology, and a shared meal is not the place for your family’s tech devices.

How can you connect with people at your shared meal if you’re distracted and immersed in a virtual experience?

Take a look at the video (below) and please share your point of view!

  • Do you think it’s rude for people to use technology at the dinner table?
  • Would you use a Pepper Hacker device to try to control your family’s tech devices?
  • What are your tech practices when sharing a meal? 

My opinion is this is a good way to call attention to the issue and help start a dialogue about keeping your shared meals a “tech free zone”.   It’ll at least give everyone a taste of a tech-free shared-meal experience (something they may not have had in years!) Hopefully, this new experience will be more rewarding and the “Pepper Hacker” will become obsolete!

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Jan 26th

Marja and Eric – giving their all to make people happy

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My son, John, told me a few months ago about how a childhood friend, Marja, had moved to Wisconsin to open a restaurant with her husband. Both my son and I were really impressed how his friend and her husband followed their instincts about creating a happy life for themselves from California all the way to Wisconsin. They now have a life that is hard work, but also full of joy, inspiration, and shared meals.

Here is Marja’s and Eric’s story (plus a delicious pie recipe!):

**************

When my husband and I arrived at what is now The Cabin Restaurant in scenic Door County, Wisconsin, we had a moment.

We had just signed our lives over for our dream– to own a restaurant in the beautiful area of the country where we had honeymooned just a short year before. We looked at each other, smiling as my husband put the key in the lock. He turned it.

It didn’t open.

It was the key for the back door.
We walked around.

The first few years were hard. Really hard. I remember being afraid to go check the mail because I knew there were so many bills we couldn’t pay. But every year it got better, and during winter (our off-season) I learned how to cook. First I learned chili, then split pea soup. I learned how to cook a ribeye on the grill, and how to broil fish. Then I tackled what is now my trademark– scratch made, decadent desserts. I definitely had pride for myself that I needed to get through the tough times.

Whenever I get down on myself, or start to feel sorry for myself for never getting a Saturday night off or a paycheck or whatever– I remind myself that I’m in the business of giving my all to make people happy. I’m not an E.R. doctor, I’m a baker. Seeing people enjoy a meal with their spouses, neighbors, or friends is such a joy. Often I can hear them raving about their favorite meals at other restaurants while they happily  eat their meal here. I feel lucky to spread joy in such a way.

So, I’m sharing with you a very unique recipe that I think you and your friends and family will greatly enjoy. A sweet and citrus-y pie, my Shaker Lemon Pie will brighten a summer evening or even a cold winter night. Please enjoy.

ShakerLemonPie

Marja’s Shaker Lemon Pie Recipe (and signature killer crust)

Day before: Wash 3 lemons and zest them. Peel a total of 6 lemons, and chop, making sure to remove seeds. Leaving them at room temperature for a few hours (or running hot water over them) helps.

Place in a small bowl and add 2 cups sugar. Cover and let sit in refrigerator overnight.

Killer crust:

In medium to large bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 c flour, 1/4 c sugar, and 1/2 t salt.

Using your hands, mix in 1/2 cup shortening until fully incorporated. Add 1/2 cup unsalted butter, using fingertips to break butter apart leaving some bits rather large, pea sized or larger.

Measure 100ml cold water in a measuring cup. Add 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar.

Pouring at the edges of flour mixture, add water in 3 stages. Mix dough in between each addition. It should come together. Add additional water in very small amounts if dough is dry.

Divide mix until two balls. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Place in fridge to rest for at least 20 minutes while you prepare filling.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Filling: Place lemon-sugar mixture in food processor and pulse until it’s broken up.

In medium bowl, beat 3 eggs. Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter and slowly whisk into eggs. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add lemon mix and 4 tablespoons flour (all purpose is fine. I have good luck with tapioca flour as well) and set aside while you roll out your crust.

When crusts are ready, fill pie and crimp edges. Brush crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Cut slits to vent.

I place foil strips around pie edges– my Shaker Lemon Pie seems to brown very quickly. You can skip this and cover edges (carefully!) later if your pie becomes too brown too early.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes and turn down oven to 350 to cook for an additional 30 minutes, removing foil strips (if using) halfway through.

Serve pie with sweetened freshly whipped cream.

Cheers and happy eating!

******

NOTE: If you ever find yourself in Door County, Wisconsin, please pay Marja and Eric a visit and enjoy their delicious food and pies! Click on this link to visit The Cabin!

 

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Jan 21st

The State of the Union…(around our dining tables!)

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Hearing President Obama’s State of the Union address made me think about taking care of our values and priorities in our homes.

It also made me wonder about how we are doing with the ‘State of the Union’ around our dining tables.

The final part of the President’s speech focused on values – what we want American culture to represent.   We’ll have to leave the work of getting America’s priorities in order to Mr. Obama and the 535 members of Congress, but we can work on our own ‘State of the Union” – how we are joining with others to fulfill our personal values, priorities…and enjoy unity with each other.

familyDinner_2549336b

What’s the current ‘State of the Union’ at your dining table?

A. I’m so focused on getting things done, I don’t have the luxury to think about having a meal with other people. Many times I feel disconnected from my own life.

or

B. There’s always something else to do, but I don’t let that get in my way. I plan a time once a day (any meal, it doesn’t matter) to be sure I’m connecting with people I care about.

If your answer is A., don’t worry.

You’re like many of us who have struggled to find time to share meals with others. But, when you don’t share meals together, you are missing out on one of the most joyful and life-balancing activities you could do! And research shows that shared-meals offer benefits in many areas including social, psychological, physical, academic, cultural-ethnic, spiritual, and creative. So don’t miss out! (Read more about these benefits in my book!)

The very good news is that once you start identifying what your values and priorities are in terms of meal sharing, you can improve your dining table ‘State of the Union’.  It’s all about aligning your values with your actions.

Here are a few steps to get you started:

1)  Determine how many times you are gathering for a shared meal. [See my website for a free 2-week Frequency Survey you can print and use.]

2) Gather your family members (or spouse, or friends) and outline the kind of shared-meal plan you would like to create with those in your shared-meal circle [See pages 103-107 in my book “The Shared-Meal Revolution” to help guide you in your discussion, and for a choice of 2 shared-meal planning templates.]

3) Support your new shared-meal plan by using available resources (such as the free ones on my website) to reinforce your daily ritual.

I’d love to hear about how your dining table ‘State of the Union’ is developing  Feel free to write to me at carol@shared-meals.com and tell me how it’s going! I’m happy to answer any questions or give you advice as well.  It’s my mission to help families and people everywhere connect one time a day over a shared meal. 

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Nov 25th

“What If….?” Give yourself permission to have a “holiday” meal every day

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We really don’t have to limit ourselves to 3 or 4 truly wonderful meals a year.

 

Shortly after Halloween, people start getting energy about the holiday season approaching.

One of the activities that people spend a lot of time and energy on is gathering together for holiday meals.

It’s this time of year when people are most cooperative…

“What can I bring?”

“How can I help?”

“Would you like me to cook something?”

“What time works for everyone’s schedule?”

 

It’s pretty amazing, right?

familystays

Although holiday meals require people to plan and do some ‘work’ for the meal, in general, the spirit of these meals are cooperative, and open.

There’s a feeling of anticipation.

The mood is lighthearted.

There’s a feeling of welcoming and inclusion.

People gathered are civil and respectful.

There’s gratitude flowing for taking the time to be together to share the meal, and experience.

What if… these thoughtful, cooperative habits were continued throughout 365 days of the year?

What if… we had at least 1 meal a day with someone we care about in which we bring that same great spirit of cooperation, joy and connection?

What if…we gave ourselves permission to have a “holiday” meal each and every day?

Don’t you feel you deserve it?  I know I do.

And I know you deserve it too.

 

Life should not be just about work and obligations.  We need to feel connection with others, and experience one time a day when we are caring for ourselves too.

We can provide that all around caring by sharing a meal, once a day.

loveis

Many people reading this post will think it’s insane to consider doing this, but the truth is, it is not.

It’s totally achievable to start (or renew) a shared-meal ritual in your home that will provide you with a daily dose of Thanksgiving.

It only requires your desire to stay connected with others in meaningful, consistent ways, and with the plan of pitching in to help each other.

It’s really that simple.

When you create a plan that’s right for you, it won’t feel like 360+ days of work.  You’ll feel alive and joyful.

***

If you’d like to learn more about joining The Shared-Meal Revolution, see my book here, and check out my website resources for helpful info.  You can also write to me at carol@shared-meals.com any time. I’d love to hear from you!

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Nov 11th

“Give Beets a Chance”

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Beets!

I just love them.

How about you?

 

My kids have commented they “taste like dirt” to which I always reply,  “OK…I accept that…they are earthy…”   Beets aren’t for everyone, but you won’t know until you try them!

beets

The glorious, rich colors (especially the traditional red) make me downright giddy, and more importantly they are super healthy...

Here are a few great reasons to feature beets on your shared-meal menu.  They are…

  • Nutrient rich (calcium, magneisum, fiber, folate to name just a few)
  • Cleanse your body of toxins
  • Help prevent chronic diseases
  • Encourage positive mental health, and regulate nerve cell activity

 

Try these fabulous, versatile beet recipes from Family Focus Blog – there’s everything from beet burgers to beet fudgesicles (that’s right!)

 

Introducing a variety of vegetables to your shared-meal table helps children develop their palate through getting to try a wide variety of tastes and textures. Sometimes people don’t care for a vegetable one time, but at a later time it becomes their new favorite.   

Beets are delicious served in cube shapes in salad or as a side dish. The color makes them attractive to work with, too.

beets2

In the immortal spirit of John Lennon, please join me in saying…

“Give Beets a Chance”

*****

If you’d like to learn more about making healthy eating a part of your shared-meal practice, visit my website for more information, or write to me at carol@shared-meals.com.

 

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Nov 5th

Go ahead and say it. Life is hard sometimes.

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Recently I participated in a book event. While having conversations with people in attendance about the importance of sharing a meal one time a day, many people commented about how complex life has become.

As I told the nice people I met this day, I wholeheartedly agree that life has become more complex, in a million different ways.

Life being so complex is the very reason I wrote my book.

My mission is to help people address the complexities of their schedules and lifestyles so they can give themselves the gift of a daily shared meal.

My book The Shared-Meal Revolution doesn’t pretend that the challenges we all face in getting meals together don’t exist, but rather provides a new way to address the challenges, and look at the shared-meal experience and various related activities as an investment in ourselves, our families, and communities.

It’s about people working together.  Cooperatively, and with a plan.

Not trying to navigate the ever-increasing complexity by sheer will power.

And not by assuming that women are the default producers of meals.

I read an article in TIME magazine recently about science-based ways to be happier. One  idea that caught my eye was this:

“Acknowledging the complexity of life may be an especially fruitful path to well being.”

Let’s collectively acknowledge that getting a meal on the table every day, breakfast, lunch, dinner, for your family, your kids, your friends, your neighbors…whatever your circumstances may be, does have its challenges.

But creating a shared-meal ritual, one time a day, is possible.

eatingtogetherfamily

Practicing a daily shared-meal ritual brings you many benefits that you enjoy year over year including psychological stability in our complex, often fragmented world, and a comforting feeling of connection.  Taking the time to share a meal every day makes life feel more simple.

All you need do is turn on the TV any day to how our world is full of partisanship and divide.

Sharing a meal daily is one workable way we can come together for the common good.

Join me.

******

If you’d like to learn more about addressing obstacles in your life that keep you from sharing meals with others, see The Shared-Meal Revolution (book) or visit my website. You can also reach me at carol@shared-meals.com with any questions or comments.

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Oct 22nd

Shonda Rhimes describes finding her “happy”…do you know how to find yours?

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Anti-depressants are on the rise. In this article by Harvard Health, the National Center for Health Statistics show that there was a 400% increase in anti-depressant use by adults (defined as ages 12 and older) between the years 1988-1994 and 2005-2008.   So sad to see “ages 12″ included in this statistic.  I fully recognize that there are people (including in my own family) who have a medical need for anti-depressants,  but I do wonder if with the support of our doctors we could try harder at natural remedies first.  It couldn’t hurt, right?

For many of us, we can ask ourselves some questions such as…

What is our lifestyle? (Is there balance or chaos?)

How do we spend our time? (Do we spend the most time on our priorities?)

How do we care of ourselves? (What daily habits do we practice to care for our bodies and hearts?)

How do we find our “happy”

Sometimes friends call me “PractiCarol” and that comes from the fact that I am quite practical about most life matters.  Growing up, my father told me frequently that there’s really no secret formula to living healthy.  Just live a very ordinary life in order to live extraordinarily well.

My father said if you want to feel happy, do these things every day…

happywoman

  • Get enough sleep
  • Spend some time outside, breath in the fresh air
  • Find something to do around the house or neighborhood that exerts you physically
  • Challenge yourself mentally by doing things like reading a book, or completing a challenging crossword puzzle
  • Don’t chase after one fad diet after another; choose whole foods and eat in moderation
  • Spend time in conversation with people you love, every day.

wholefoods

On the topic of finding your “happy”, I was reminded about an interview of Shonda Rhimes, fabulously talented writer/producer/creator of some amazing television shows including “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder.”  Shonda is someone presumably with as much money as a person could want, and a high level of professional achievement and career success.  But she didn’t say money and success made her happy.

Look at what Shonda said about finding her “happy”:

“I saw my happy. Or, actually, I was made to see it. I was having dinner with a group of close friends, a lot of us around a table, talking late into the night. There were candles on the table and we had so much wine and perfect cheese. Stories were told that began with ‘remember that time when. . .’ and we laughed until we cried. And there was a moment for me when the food was eaten and the chairs were pushed back and I was leaning to blow out a candle, a moment when I just . . . paused. I looked around the table at the faces of my loved ones, and I was hit with a realization. This is what happy looks like.”

eatingwithothers

Like Shonda, I agree that “This is what happy looks like.” That’s why I find my happy every day by following the advice of my very wise father, and especially through spending time in conversation, sharing meals with people I care about.

I make sharing meals a part of my life for my health, and happiness.

How do you find your happy?

If you’d like to learn more how to connect with people you love by creating a shared-meal plan, pick up my book, “The Shared-Meal Revolution” and visit my website.  Any questions?  Just write me at carol@shared-meals.com. I’d love to hear from you!

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Oct 15th

5 easy ways to create workplace “power lunches”

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Sharing meals is not just about traditional families.  We create families in many environments. And since many people live alone, a great way to get their one daily shared meal is through the relationships they nurture at the office.

I’ve got a few ideas that will help you use the opportunity of a shared lunch (or breakfast) to help keep you refreshed during the day, and feeling connected with other human beings. Aren’t you done with that routine of eating a sandwich with one hand while you answer emails in your office cave? Who wants to spend 8+ hours in the office feeling isolated and glued to their computer and phones?

desk

Here are some tips to help you refresh and “power up” your happiness during the workday.

1. Invite someone new to share a meal with you.
You don’t have to go to lunch with the same people every day.  It’s refreshing to get a break from the faces of people in your immediate department. Why not invite someone you met at a meeting last week, or someone who works in a part of the company that has intrigued you, or even a former colleague who works nearby?

2. Stick to your plans
It’s easy to let a work issue bump your lunch plans, and that’s going to happen, but reserve the cancellations happen only when they are truly urgent.

3. Take turns choosing where you’ll go for lunch
Taking turns helps keep the ritual fun and fresh. When someone else picks, you’re more likely to discover a new place you never knew has the best pad thai in town. Sometimes when it’s my turn,  I’ll opt for getting outdoors on a patio or at a nearby park. Since you want to maximize the time you have outdoors,  plan ahead and bring a salad or sandwiches.  Keep a blanket  in the trunk of your car so no one’s work clothes get grass stains. You might get comments like, “We don’t have enough time for a picnic” but if you plan ahead, you’ll be soaking in sunshine in less time than you might have been  fighting in traffic to get to a restaurant.

Businesspeople Having Lunch in Park

4. Put your smartphones away
It’s so tempting to want to monitor work emails, but if something is that urgent that you can’t keep off your phone for an hour,  then reschedule lunch for a different day, or have a shared breakfast before your work day and priorities heat up.

coworkerslunch

5. Resist the shop talk
How many times have you been to lunch where someone is relentlessly gossiping, complaining, and talking shop? I’m all for helping people bounce off ideas and work through challenges, but just be careful that it doesn’t turn into a complaint-fest. The point of a shared meal is to keep connection, nurture relationships, and welcome some joy into your day.

Follow these tips and soon you’ll be enjoying a brand new kind of “power lunch”.

* * * *

If you’d like to learn more about how shared meals can help you reclaim life balance and preserve connection with others, visit my website or pick up my book The Shared-Meal Revolution by clicking here.

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Oct 7th

Restaurant meal experiences have you bummed out? Here are 10 tips to better dining out

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My son John and I have a Sunday morning tradition of brunch out at a local restaurant.  I meal plan for the week early on Sunday morning and tend to do a lot of errands, so at this point in our lives, this time works best for our 1:1 meal together. Last week we ate at a chain restaurant (which we rarely do, but I was craving certain lettuce wrapped Asian tacos).  We left a little later than usual, so it wasn’t the more ‘chill’ environment we had experienced on a Sunday morning. The restaurant was crowded, hot, loud with TVs blaring, tables were unusually close together, and the service was not great (it took almost 20 minutes for the waiter to acknowledge we were seated; our order was wrong, then when we asked for our bill, it took another 20 minutes and we were given another customer’s bill along with their credit card)  These are experiences we all have from time to time and it’s understandable that mistakes happen, but I’ve been noticing lately that the conditions for sharing meals out has been on the decline.

Sharing meals out at a restaurants is part of my shared-meal plan, but it’s not a daily event.

In part, that’s because it’s not always easy to find a restaurant that is hospitable to guests taking their time, fully relaxing, and having the environment that is best for shared-meal conversations.  This is particularly true of chain restaurants which I try to avoid (because of the questionable quality of processed ingredients, and the high sugar-fat-salt ratio often used in the food.)

Here are some tips to keep in mind when you are dining out:

diningout

1. Go at a time when it’s less likely to be crowded
-call the restaurant in advance and ask about their busy peaks; even a half hour earlier or later might change your dining experience for the better

2. Ask to be seated in a place where you can relax and feel comfortable; if tables are ridiculously close together, politely point that out to the host or manager.
-it’s unnerving to try to avoid accidentally bumping elbows with the people to your sides. If we speak up about too-tight tables, owners will get the message we don’t want to be packed in like sardines.

3. If a host tries to seat you near the Restrooms, ask for another table
-this will encourage owners to remove tables near the restrooms…(ew…gross…who’s with me on this?)

4. If there’s a TV blaring (unfortunately more and more common), ask the manager to lower the volume or turn it off (exceptions for sports bars/events, of course)
-it’s a reasonable request that if no one is listening to the TV that it be turned to a volume to allow you to socialize with your guests, and if it can’t, ask for a table further away from the TV

5. Slow down the ordering process to set a relaxed pace to your meal
-resist giving your entire order (drinks, appetizers, entrees, etc.) the moment you sit down.  See what you feel like ordering as your meal progresses

6. Don’t be shy about asking questions about how a dish is prepared, or the type of ingredients used
-if you have special dietary restrictions such as low salt, dairy or gluten free…or if you want to use a smaller amount of oil in the preparation of your vegetables, it will only enhance your dining experience if you address these upon ordering

7. Tip your waiter well for good service, and request seating in their area the next time you visit that restaurant
-waitstaff work very hard and many make most of their pay from tips. So tip them well for good service.  If there’s a problem with your meal or your bill, it might not be due to the waiter. Let the manager know in a respectful tone what your experience has been or what the problem is.

8. Review your bill for accuracy; nobody likes these kinds of surprises
-Recently a friend was out with her family and added a $60 tip on their bill. However, upon arriving home, they discovered that the tip had already been included, so they accidentally double-tipped. The restaurant hadn’t published that the tip would be included in the bill, nor had they been informed

9. Talk it up with your friends about new places they’ve discovered
-word of mouth is the best way to hear about places with good service, quality ingredients, and a relaxing environment. Support restaurants that staff with enough personnel too. It’s sad to see cooks and waitstaff running around like their heads are spinning off because the restaurant owner doesn’t want to pay for enough staff.  I’m personally willing to pay a little more for a restaurant who staffs with enough employees. How about you?

10. Ditch the tech devices at the table (my favorite tip)
-
it doesn’t make for an enjoyable meal out if you hear a chorus of dings and special sound effects; enjoy having uninterrupted time together

If you’d like to read more about how to create the best shared-meal experiences, in and out of your home, sign up for my blog Shared Meals Matter by clicking here. 

I‘d love to hear from you!  Please contact me at carol@shared-meals.com to ask me any questions or share your meal experiences.

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Sep 30th

Work Burnout: Why it’s GOOD News (really) and What You Can Do to Reduce It!

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Did you know that according to a 2013 Gallup report only 30 percent of American workers, and 13 percent of employees worldwide, feel engaged at work?  These are pretty small numbers, don’t you think?

Burnout is on the rise.  According to the article Why You Hate Work (NY Times), this burnout is happening because of the demand on our time, and the ever-presence of technology giving us 24/7 access to email (how many people are still on work email at home well until bedtime?)

What the research shows is that when employees are not having their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs met, they are getting burnt out.  Makes sense, right?

womanoverworked

The way people feel on the job directly impacts the company’s bottom line (profits).  Having a sea of drained, under-performing employees is causing waves.

 

Research shows employers are taking notice and are more open to making changes.

 

That’s why I say this burnout problem is good news!

It’s been more common in the past decade that workplaces offer concierge-like benefits to make the workplace more inviting (free, healthy food, game rooms, afternoon cookies and coffee, etc.) While it’s great to see employers making efforts to create a better workplace environment, these amenities are steps towards integrating our work / personal / leisure lives but don’t directly address the problem or offer actual work-life balance.

One idea in the article that stuck out to me was the idea of providing nap rooms. To me, if employers are feeling that nap rooms are a solution to helping us feeling more engaged in the workplace, we are in serious trouble!

Further, this is not what I want to see in my co-workers every day:

nap

Here’s what we might want to say to our employer:

“Dear Employer:

We want workplace flexibility.

We want to be able to create some boundaries so we can go home at reasonable times, enjoy time with our friends and family without work distractions, share a meal, do a variety of other fun activities, and then get rest before the next work day.

We’re ready to talk with you about ways you can help us feel less burned out on the job so we can be happy, healthy, perform at our best and together help the company make lots of money.”

Sincerely,

Your Employees

P.S. Hold the Nap Room!”

Lots of companies have written policies which seem to support workplace flexibility (such as working from home occasionally, or working an alternate shift to accommodate a child care schedule) but often there’s not support to effect this flexibility.

Working beyond 40 hours a week and with limited opportunity to take breaks is also reported as wreaking havoc on the well-being of workers. (I know I feel spent when this has happened to me. Don’t you?) Pushing out work emails no matter when or where you are doesn’t help us be healthy employees.

womanworkingfrom home

Work hours bleeding into our mornings before we start work (perhaps interrupting a shared-meal with our kids before they start their day), through lunchtime (another time to bond with a co-worker over a healthy lunch) and in the evenings and weekends prevent us from having a meaningful break (not to mention miss having dinner with our families or friends).

The amount of time (the opportunity to be present) and the quality of that time at home (not being distracted by work/technology) offers us the chance to reclaim ourselves, to feel refreshed, renewed, relaxed.  When people don’t have the chance to have this time (truly) away from the office activities it creates resentment, too.

As you know, I’m a strong advocate of the need to preserve interpersonal connection and reclaiming life balance through sharing meals with others — with the goal of 1 shared-meal a day.

 

To achieve this, we need to address obstacles, including work ones, that are keeping us from being able to share meals.

Some might think it’s radical to suggest that we take the lead and talk with our employers about our need to create some boundaries at work. I suggest to you that employers are wanting to hear from us! Research is showing them that it makes good business sense (dollars and cents) to listen and to work with us towards a win-win solution.

If your work hours and schedule have prevented you from taking care of your basic needs, consider meeting with your manager about your need to reduce burnout and better balance your work and home life.

Here are a few actions you might want to take before you meet, and a few things to consider:

1. Check to see if your company has a written policy regarding work hours. Know going into the meeting what the policies are and ask for a work schedule that might be better for your lifestyle and well-being.

2. Ask your supervisor to support you in creating a boundary for the end of the workday, and then stick to it.  Also, don’t put undue pressure on yourself — promise yourself you’ll resist the temptation to ‘finish just one more thing’ before you leave. Acknowledge there may be necessary exceptions, but have a plan.

motherdaughters

3. Program a reminder to sound fifteen minutes before you plan to leave and begin wrapping up on time. To keep yourself committed, ask those waiting for you at home to start preparing dinner, or establish a time and place for standing restaurant reservations with a friend.

4. Prepare (and then bring to the meeting with your supervisor) a wish list on a piece of paper that you’ll refer to during your meeting. Start with the minimum requirements in your pursuit of work-life balance–for example, to arrive to work at 8:30am instead of 8:00am so you can enjoy a shared breakfast with your toddler, or to have the freedom to defer work email responses received after 7pm until the next work day, or to enjoy paid time off without any work interruptions.

5. Include any considerations that will help you to stay committed to your employer, such as earning a one-month paid sabbatical after 10 years of service. Remember, this is a wish list…be creative!

6. Research companies who have active policies that support the work-life balance of their employees. A good employer will have a vested interest in the well-being of their employees and will stay progressive in their policies so they don’t lose you to a competitor.

friendsharingmeal

Important Note!

Keep in mind that your wishes must be reasonable. Your employer cannot consider requests which interfere with business operations or your ability to do your job with the excellence for which you are paid. I’m not suggesting you approach your supervisor like a bull in a china shop but rather identify what flexible work arrangements might be available to you and have a respectful conversation with your supervisor to gain his/her support. Some workplaces are more open to a dialogue than others, so make your suggestions accordingly.

If all of this sounds too scary (and with some employers, it might be) at a minimum, research the work-life balance and flexibility options your company offers and identify the ones of personal value.  Keep those in mind for the next opportunity to talk with your supervisor, and don’t give up!

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If you’d like to learn more about how to create a shared-meal plan for your family or friends, please visit my site for resources, including my book, The Shared-Meal Revolution.

Please write me at carol@shared-meals.com if you have any questions related to work-life balance suggestions, or any questions about shared meals in general!  I’d love to hear from you and am always happy to help.

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