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As autumn approaches and many children are back to school, a counsellor is sharing the importance of connection, food, and routines.

As long as people have lived on the earth, there have been routines and rituals in every culture that are predictable and that bring people together. Every family has its Christmas or Hannukah traditions. When someone dies, we have a wake or a funeral. Friends family come together for weddings and birthdays," says Terry Warburton, Clinical Director with Recovery of Hope in Winnipeg. 

She says that these sorts of events are predictable, and are beneficial for families. 

"We have lost some of these routines and rituals in our culture, but we can revive them in our families to promote connection, particularly for the benefit of our children. Children need warm connections and emotional safety for growth and development to take place. Family rituals can go a long way to promote so many good things in our families." 

Warburton shares that research shows eating has a big part to do with routine. 

"Eating together is so important. Children learn social skills. Families can laugh together and hear about everyone’s day. In fact, we digest our food better when we are eating with those we are connected to. Food and attachment go hand in hand." 

In the society we live in, connecting at the dinner table for any meals with people's ever-increasing busy schedules can be a challenge. 

"There’s work, shift work, school, sports, after-school activities, socializing with friends, among other things. You might need to get creative. But finding a regular schedule where your family can connect over food can be really important, even if everyone can’t be there every day."

Another ritual that can bring families together is bedtime, according to Warburton.

"Enjoying some activities in the evening that help everyone slow down and calm down can be great for relationships and can also help us to get ready to have a good sleep. Things like playing a game, having a bath, reading a bedtime story together, or perhaps a different chapter of a book each evening."

Warburton says that while parents will have to take time and energy out of their day to establish some sort of bedtime routine, the connection they make with their children will be worth it.

"Maybe you have a pizza and movie night once a week, or spaghetti and games night. These are great routines to begin when children are young, and they grow to know and look forward to the routine. And it is really important to preserve these precious times, and not allow busyness to take them away." 

When people think of routines, they often think of set times. But it's the act of taking time to connect that should be the ritual or routine, rather than just a time. 

"Laughing together and sharing a fun experience is so great for helping families to feel connected to each other. There is enough tough stuff to deal with every day. Injecting some silliness, fun, and play into the day can be just what everyone needs, no matter how old they are."