Wish dinner with the kids was a time of good food and great conversation? It will be soon!
It’s 6:30 p.m., and the entire family is worn out. You and your spouse were at work all day, and the kids just finished up soccer practice after a grueling day at school. It seems the only thing on anyone’s agenda is eating as fast as possible and getting in front of the television or computer screen.
But this doesn’t have to happen to your family. With a little work, you can turn dinnertime into a regular event that everyone looks forward to. You may even get your moody teen to smile and talk. How can you pull off these magic tricks? With the following ideas.
Go Color Crazy: If your dinner foods are always full of different colors, you can catch your family off guard by making them all the same color. Pick a color and go for it! You can either choose foods of the same color or use a little food coloring to make foods all sorts of unexpected colors. Just be careful. Turn the wrong food a really strange color, and your family may have a hard time eating it.
Involve the Little People. No matter how young or old your kids are, they’ll benefit from getting their hands dirty in the kitchen. Make dinner a family affair by letting your kids plan the menu for the night. Then give them age-appropriate tasks in the kitchen to get dinner ready for the whole family to enjoy.
Get Backwards. Never let your kids eat dessert first? Make their nights by starting your meal with dessert. Only when dessert is over will you let them start in on the main course. Once this is gone, finish off with some sort of appetizer. You’ll have everyone so confused they won’t stop talking all night!
Pack a Picnic Basket. While picnics are usually reserved for the great outdoors, you can toss a blanket on your living room floor and have one inside. This is particularly fun when the weather prevents you from actually being able to eat outside. Have paper plates and napkins on hand, and there will be very little cleanup afterward.
Turn It into a Party. Some of the best conversations take place while standing around eating finger foods at parties. Why not turn your kitchen into a party scene by cooking up a few finger foods and encouraging your family to stand up while they eat? As you lean against the kitchen counter, you can learn all about your children’s days at school. Want to pull even more info out of your kids? Let them invite a friend or two over. Just be sure to relish these moments, because they won’t last forever!
Make the Event Topical. There are a million things you could talk about around the dining room table. But if you’re not careful, none of them will be discussed. To keep communication lines open at your house, write down a dozen or more topics of discussion and toss them in a basket in the middle of the table. When things get quiet, have one of your kids pick a topic randomly and let the conversation begin!
Focus on the Family
Mealtime is a sacred time that allows families to gather together and talk over family business and simply enjoy one another’s company. Unfortunately, there are many distractions that can keep dinner from being a family affair.
To keep your kids and guests tuned in to what’s going on at the table, issue the following rules:
- talking, texting, or other use of phones is prohibited
- no watching television during dinner (unless the whole family is watching together and talking at the same time)
- before leaving the table, you must be excused by the cook
- there is no excuse for missing dinner – even if you’re not hungry
- if it has been prepared, you have to try it