How to Bring More Fun to the Family Dinner Table

There are so many articles out about how families who spend quality time around the table talking and interacting have more well-adjusted children. What do they mean by well-adjusted? According to an article in Time.com: Healthier, less likely to do drugs, have sex, and learn to use a fork. According to the experts in the article, “A meal is about civilizing children. It’s about teaching them to be a member of their culture.” I totally want civilized children! Our family has been making a special effort to have more meals together every week to make sure we connect and more importantly, have fun. Trust me, I know it’s hard for busy families to find the time to schedule quality time together but you have 21 chances a week to sit down to eat together and interact as a family. Surely, you can find at least 4 or 5 times to do it together. My goal is even loftier though, I want my family to look forward to sitting and interacting together at the family meal. Just because you are all sitting around a table together, it doesn’t mean you are connecting. You have to engage and I’ll give you some ideas on how to have fun. 1. Dinner is Served. Lately we have been playing restaurant on weekends when we stay home and cook. My daughter is the waitress and my son pretends he is the chef. They love serving Mom and Dad at the table. I have to say I like it too. 2. Dancin’ in the Kitchen. To keep things lively, we like to crank the dance tunes and dance or sing while we get ready for dinner. We dance while we cook, set the table and while we clean up. Grooving some calories away before and after dinner is good for the heart. Take turns picking the tunes. 3. Choose or Lose. Another way to have some fun at dinnertime is to let the kids choose the entire meal on certain nights. I ask them to choose an entree, side dish, veggie and fruit for the meal. That way I am teaching them to include all of the food groups when they plan a meal. They might choose some interesting items that you wouldn’t normally eat together but that’s what makes it fun. 4. Conversation Games. Sometimes you are just tired or at a loss for a dinner table topic. That’s why we keep some conversation starter cards near the dinner table. There are quite a few conversation games out there but we like the Family Dinner Box of Questions and Chat Pack for Kids the best, which is why I sell them on my retail site. It’s a fun way to get the conversation started and learn something about each of your family members. 5. Positive Affirmations. When we have had a bad day or the kids have been fighting a lot, I like to “play” the positive affirmations game at the dinner table. We go around the table and say what we like most about the other family members. It forces us to focus on the positives and it is a small ego-boost for everyone. We all leave the dinner table in a much better mood. 6. Opposite Night. For some reason the kids love it when we have breakfast food at dinner time. So grab those breakfast and brunch recipe favorites and surprise the family. Breakfast … it’s not just for breakfast anymore. Or, eat dessert first one night to really throw them off balance. However, if getting dinner on the table is your challenge, not necessarily coming up with fun ideas, then check out one of the Spring 2011 PTPA award winners – The Dinner Solution Software, which makes it easy for busy Moms to plan their weekly meals to save time and money. Have fun at dinner tonight!

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