I often wish I could be a fly- a fly on the wall in someone’s kitchen. One that you hear buzzing around and you wonder “what is it doing and where did it go now”!?! All joking aside, I often wonder what meal time looks like at other people’s houses. Is my family “normal” are we “old fashioned”? Do we have a funny looking meal time ritual? I have recently decided that I don’t really care what label to put on it, what we do works for us!
Lots of research has been put out there talking about the importance of mealtime and creating happy and healthy lifestyles around the dinner table. Meal time is what brings families together, and if you eat together chances are you are healthier.
Have you ever heard the statistics about children and their test scores in relation to whether or not they ate dinner with their families? Well as you can probably guess, the findings suggested that the families, who ate together, had children who performed higher on tests. It also suggests that those same children who eat meals with their families are less likely to get into trouble at school. Do you think that is a possibility? Is it far-fetched? Whether you agree or not about test scores isn’t the point. The point however, is to create a special time with our family members and be intentional when interacting with them.
Here are three things you can do to make dinner time more fun and enjoyable for everyone and at the same time build the family up by being intentional.
- Ask Questions- Simply ask open ended questions that require an answer; What did you learn today that you did not already know? What special periods did you have (like music or art?) What did you do to help someone out? The wrong kind are closed ended, and can be answered yes, no or I don’t know. Avoid closed ended questioning because they do not bring about communication.
- Play Games- We are famous for busting out with the phrase…. I spy with my little eye, something that starts with the letter, B. Our Games have gotten quite creative over the past few years as the kids get older. We have also been known to play tic-tac-toe at restaurants waiting, and trying to entertain little people. When no crayons are available, just ask for extra straws and sugar packets and make a tic-tac-toe board with the straws, and the x’s and o’s with different colored sugar packets!! Works like a charm!
- Talk- We have collected over the years things to help us create conversation like little conversation starters. I like the Chat Pack (found at a local toy store) There are cards inside with questions ranging from share your favorite kind of dessert and why, to holiday traditions, to one thing you would love to do this year. These handy little conversation starters have taken the “hard” out of talking with our kids!
My hope for you and your family is that you can sit down to a meal and really enjoy each other’s company. Make these intentional moments with your family special while you still can, all too soon they will be grown and gone! One of the best legacies we can leave our children is a strong sense of who they are and where they came from. The dinner table is one of the best places to begin building that legacy, why not start tonight?