4 Ideas to Make Dinnertime Fun
Our days are packed with work, commuting and picking the kids up from school and soccer practice and by the time dinner rolls around, all of our energy is spent. Trying to enjoy family time around the table can be tough. But research shows having family dinners can have a profound effect on kids: lower instances of obesity, higher grades, lower risk of using drugs, alcohol or tobacco. With the positive impact family dinners have, putting in the extra effort to make it fun is worth it. Here are 4 ideas to make dinnertime fun.
Make It A Family Project
Long days at school and work wears everyone out and at the end of the day getting everything on the table is challenging. Make dinner a family project to ease some of the burden and create a bonding experience. Create menus for the week together, involve the older kids in preparing and cooking the food, and have the younger children set the table and help with cleanup. Involving your kids in the process sets them up to learn the value of teamwork inside the home and also gets them started on creating positive eating habits to shape them for adulthood.
Make It Social
Use the dinner table to catch up on what is happening with your children. Make an effort to involve them in conversation. Ask your kids engaging questions that require thoughtful answers: what they're learning in school, how they are feeling and what motivates them. This will enhance your relationships with your children and it helps them practice social exchanges and prepares them to communicate with others outside the home.
Make It Device-Free
Smartphones, phablets and tablets are everywhere. According to the 2014 Mobile Behavior Report from salesforce.com, people spend between 2 and 5 hours on their smartphones every day. While your kids may want to stay connected virtually, have them take a time out from their devices so they can connect with the family at dinnertime. Make putting away their devices for dinner as much of a habit as removing their hats and gloves when they walk in the door. Take dinnertime to teach your kids how to be present and make real-life connections..
Make It A Game
Good conversation isn't always as easy with kids as we'd like it to be. For those lulls, try playing kids games to get them excited about family dinner time. They don't have to be board games or card games; trivia and twenty questions are interactive enough without all the props to make dinner time something to look forward to. If they want to stay at the table after all the food is gone, you know they're having a good time.
It's easy to let go of the family dinner tradition, but sitting down with your kids every night, whether it's over take-out tacos or home-baked ham, has benefits that outweigh the drawbacks.
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