If your family dinnertime is in need of a little makeover, try one of these simple activities to get everyone talking and laughing together. Make dinnertime matter!
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With back to school just around the corner, I’ve been thinking a lot about our family rhythm and routines. For the past year and half my kids have been home with me every day, and we’ve had lots of time together.
Once school starts, my big kids will be gone for more than 6 hours per day! I’m excited for the opportunities that will open up for them–and for me–but I’m also a little sad about losing so much family time. It’s gotten me thinking about how to replace quantity with quality time.
One of the key opportunities for quality family time happens around the dinner table.
There are endless studies that support the idea that family dinnertime is important. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University says that children who regularly eat dinner with their parents are less likely to become involved in risky behaviors (drugs, alcohol, etc.) and more likely to have good grades and better overall health.
In the crazy–sometimes scary–world in which we live, I want to use dinnertime as a way to protect and prepare my children for the world they will face outside our home.
If you’re like me, however, sometimes dinner isn’t the idyllic family bonding experience you want it to be. Without a plan, dinner at my house can quickly turn into a circus of sibling bickering, whining about the green stuff I cruelly put in their food, and an endless monologue about the many virtues of Minecraft.
But…when I’m intentional about how we spend dinnertime, it really becomes a special time that strengthens our family relationships. That’s not to say our dinners are free from people getting poked by forks or that everyone eats all their vegetables with gusto, but the ratio of smiles to frowns has begun to swing in my favor. At least we’re on the right track!
So if your family’s dinnertime is in need of a little makeover, try one of these simple activities to get everyone talking and laughing together.
Simple and fun activities for family dinnertime
A simple place to start is by having a “question-of-the-day”. Read a question and give each family member a chance to answer. This is a great way to get to know your kids…and for them to learn about you! I guarantee you’ll be surprised by some of their answers. Read more about my family’s experience using conversation starters here.
Need question ideas? Try these: 48 printable conversation starters for young kids
Get your family’s creative juices flowing with a classic game of pass-a-story. Choose one person to start a story…any story you can imagine! As the story progresses, pass the story around the table so each person gets a chance to add to the tale. Anything goes! The wilder the story gets, the better. Giggles guaranteed.
If you need help getting started, try using story cubes to get the ball rolling.
High and Low
There are many names for this dinner game…high & low, sweet & sour, smiles & frowns…
Whatever you call it, it’s a simple way for family members to share the memorable moments of the day with each other. By sharing “highs” your family members can celebrate each other’s successes and be more aware of the positive things in their lives. Sharing “lows” gives parents a glimpse into what kids may be struggling with, and it allows kids to get support where needed.
Did you know?
If you want to find out what your kids are learning in school each day, start a new tradition of sharing fun facts with each other at dinner. Rather than just asking kids “So…what did you learn today?” (which often receives uninspiring answers like “I dunno” or “I forget”), turn it into a game! Invite family members to bring a fun fact to the table to share at dinner. Give kids bonus points if they can teach YOU something you didn’t know before! And of course, parents can share fun facts, too!
Do you have animal lovers at home? Try this family-favorite guessing game! It’s super simple: one person picks an animal and gives three clues to help the other players guess what it is. So simple, but my boys love it and still ask to play it regularly (it’s also great for when you’re waiting in lines or waiting for food at a restaurant, etc.) Get all the details and variations of how to play in my original post about this game HERE.
These five games are super simple, but they can make family dinnertime much more meaningful and fun!
Do you have any dinnertime traditions? Share in the comments below!
Need more help with family dinnertime? Check out these ideas:
- Simple Meal Planning for Busy Moms
- How to simplify weekly meal planning + free printable templates
- Teaching your toddler manners: 3 rules we live by