Chloe Shorten has revealed the secret to managing the trials and tribulations of her blended family, and says most issues are easily resolved with with one simple trick.
The wife of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has said she sits down to eat dinner with her family ‘at least three times a week’, and the meals have played a key role in keeping the peace in the Shorten household.
And while husband Bill is often away from the family’s Moonee Ponds home in Melbourne, Chloe says he will sometimes drop in for dinner before heading back to work, or video call into the meal from Canberra.
Chloe Shorten has shared secrets from the dining table she shares with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and their three children
Bill and Chloe married in 2009. Mrs Shorten has two children from her first marriage, Rupert (left) and Georgette (right), and the couple have a daughter together, Clementine (front centre)
‘We try our best to have three nights together a week,’ she told Sky News.
‘And that might mean Bill comes home, and then he goes back out to do something, and when we can’t, I still sit with kids even when he’s away in sitting weeks, and sometimes we’ll Facetime or what have you.’
Mrs Shorten, who launched her cookbook in Melbourne on Monday, said it wasn’t necessarily the food on the table that brought the family together as much as it was the routine itself.
The daughter of former Governor General Quentin Bryce said she has been known to ditch the apron and head for take-out instead, but the meal is still eaten together as a family.
‘Even if you decant those things, and you put them on the table, and you are still sitting on that table, it has much better benefit for you and your family [than eating apart],’ she said.
The mother-of-three says family dinners have been a ‘peacekeeping force’ for the blended family
Mrs Shorten says though family dinners can often be marred by fighting, the family leaves the table with stronger bonds than when they sat down
In her new book, The Secret Ingredient (pictured), she says the family will gather for meals at least three times a week
Mrs Shorten said when her Labor Leader husband is working, he will try to drop by for dinner before heading back out, and he will sometimes Facetime in to the meal when in Canberra
In an excerpt from her book, Mrs Shorten said family meals were the best way to strengthen relationships between each other.
‘In step-families, I’ve learned meals together are a fundamental peacekeeping force, a way of getting everyone to understand each other, share daily experiences and points of view,’ she wrote.
‘The more times we sit together and break bread, the greater the chance to understand and accommodate each other—even if that sometimes means squabbles, tears or frustrations. How we conduct and resolve dinnertime conflicts are vital life lessons.’
Mr Shorten was in attendance at the book launch in Melbourne on Easter Monday, as were Mrs Shorten’s three children
The Shorten family is comprised of Chloe and her two children from her first marriage, Rupert and Georgette, Labor Party leader Bill, and the child they had together in 2009, Clementine.
Mrs Shorten wrote her first book, Take Heart: A story for modern stepfamilies, last year, where she tried to disperse information she found helpful in blending her own family when the couple married in 2009.
Mrs Shorten’s cookbook, The Secret Ingredient, is available online and in bookstores now.
The Secret Ingredient is available in bookstores and online now