You know how family dinners are shown in movies and TV? Everyone sits at the table laughing and sharing a good, heartfelt conversation like it’s no big deal. But real life is not like the movies! We’re at our tables begging our kids to "turn off the tv," "leave your cellphone on the counter," and “JUST EAT YOUR FOOD,” while wrestling with our toddlers to just sit down and get one more bite in. It’s hard to envision the entire family sitting down during mealtime, bonding over a good conversation.
As parents, it seems we can never escape the stress of making sure our child eats enough, is happy, and does their homework. I mean, we want what’s best for our kids and we all are busy. Often this stress makes us forget that one purpose of sitting together and having family meals is enjoying each other’s company, bonding, and having conversations!
After a busy and hectic day, mealtime can actually serve as a place of peace for your family to all come together and check in with one another. After a long day, you may find your family doesn’t have much to say at the dinner table. Take turns going around the table and drawing out a question. You could have each person choose a new question to answer or you could have one person choose a question and have everyone answer it. Here are a few questions to help stimulate conversation:
What was the best part of your day?
If you could stay up all night, what would you do?
What is your greatest talent or ability?
If you were invisible for a day, what would you want to observe?
What is one thing you could have done better today?
If you could design your own school, what would it look like?
What are the most interesting things about you?
What is one thing you are grateful for today?
If you could trade places with your parents for a day, what would you do differently?
If you could have any superpower, which would you choose?
Another tip for a more fun meal experience is to turn off distractions. Okay, if we’re being honest, most of us probably can’t remember the last time our precious cell phone wasn’t glued to our hand. We have the world at our fingertips 24/7 basically anywhere that has wifi or data. That also means no television, video games, and computer, absolutely anything that might interrupt this special time with your family. Being more present during mealtime helps. Without anything distracting your family from talking, you'll have no other option but to start chatting. Small talk will eventually flow with full on conversations including laughter. Makes bonding easier and memories that last a lifetime.
The goal of sparking a conversation at mealtime is to encourage social interaction between you and your children, and thereby create a positive experience for the entire family that they will look forward to every day. One thing is clear: It’s time to put the phones down and have fun interacting with each other again, and a great place to start is at the dinner table.