With the arrival of autumn comes the opportunity for new beginnings, new thoughts, new opportunities, and new schedules.

Gone are the hot summer days when our children were running around outside, playing with friends; adhering to a much less structured schedule. During the summer months, it’s especially easier to be lax with scheduling our family meal routines. However, the school bells are ringing again and it’s time to make sure our children are ready to learn. A big part of making sure our children are ready to learn is to make sure they are receiving meals that nourish the body and feed the soul.

Most of us think of the New Year’s holiday as the time when we make resolutions about the changes we want to make in our lives, or springtime as the time when things begin to blossom and start anew. We’ve been trained to think of autumn as a time when flowers fade, leaves fall to the ground, and a final flourish of warmth and splashes, only to be eminently snatched away. We don’t typically think of fall as being a time for new beginnings, when in all actuality, it can serve as an even better jump-starter than the typical seasons we associate with beginning things anew.

As the days begin to darken and our children settle back into school, we have an opportunity to give ourselves a gift by making sure our meals are solid and quality time is carved out in our schedules each day so we can break bread together as a rock-solid family unit. We need to make sure we have good, old-fashioned family time, beginning with our meals.

With most of us living our lives on the go, the first activity that usually slips our grip is the time we make to sit down at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table with our family. In the busy flurry of our days, it’s far too easy to grab fast food, order a pizza or let each family member fend for themselves when it comes to scouring the cupboard and refrigerator to put together a meal. But, it doesn’t have to stay that way. We can use autumn as a time when we give ourselves an early holiday present by recommitting to sitting down with our family and being cognizant of the foods we choose to eat.

Grabbing food on thego, it’s easy to concentrate on filling ourselves up as opposed to making conscientious choices about healthy food that will strengthen our bodies and improve our well-being. When we make an intentional decision to sit down as a family to eat, we seem to more frequently do a self-check to ensure that the proper food groups are represented on our family members’ plates.

Sitting down to eat as a family gives us the opportunity to stop for a moment and look our loved ones in the eye. We’re able to ask our family members how they’re doing, while sharing the pain, joy and triumphs we all experience in our lives. While a diet of fast food often makes our children slow, sleepy and sluggish, a healthy, nutritious meal can make our children thrive, concentrate and ready to learn as they tackle the new rigors that come with returning to school.

When the bells of New Year’s Eve toll, we often feel pressure to come up with a resolution and publicly share what it is we are trying change.

I find the nice thing about autumn is that there isn’t incessant chatter about people making changes or everyone taking a shot at new beginnings. Therefore, as the flowers fade and the leaves fall to the ground, it’s the perfect time to quietly declare your own season of new beginnings, starting with sharing meals with the ones we love, while filling our tables with the fruits, vegetables and healthy foods that smell of new beginnings and starting anew.

Gloria Freeman is President/CEO of Olu’s Center, an intergenerational childcare and senior day program, and can be reached at gfreeman@olushome.com.

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