Let’s talk: 3 fun ways to engage the family during dinnertime
Is family conversation during dinnertime a challenge in your home?
Do you find yourself asking your spouse or kids the same questions each day and only getting a one word response?
A few years ago, I would have said yes to both of these questions.
In the midst of working, homework, playtime with friends, and sports, we strive to make sure we are intentionally carving out time to have dinner together as a family. Believe me this is not always an easy task. When we have the moment to have everyone together, I love for us to have conversations.
In my early mom years, I realized I was asking the same questions and yielding little dialogue. I needed to help to get the conversations going if I was going to make the most of the precious time we had together. At the dinner table are perfect moments to continue discussions about humility, kindness, and compassion while cultivating active listening skills.
So if you are looking for some fun and engaging ways to start conversations during dinner, you are in the right place. Here are my three easy ways to get everyone talking.
1. Q & A a day for kids: A Three-year journal
Several years ago, I was searching for ways to get everyone more involved in talking during dinner time. At that point, the ages of our sons ranged from four to seventeen and finding topics that everyone could discuss was sometimes challenging. That is when I saw this book Q & A a day for kids on Amazon. Originally, it is designed for one kid to be able to keep as a three-year journal, but I found it worked well for our entire family. Instead of just capturing the response of one person, I simply place our initials on each line and document everyone’s response.
What I love most about this conversation starter is the ability to go back to review our responses from the previous year. We enjoy reviewing whether our responses have evolved or stayed the same over the years. Plus, the author also has other books that work well for couples and one designed specifically for moms.
2. Sweet and sour
During dinnertime, each person takes a turn sharing one sweet and one sour moment of their day. The sweet represents the positive of day. Sometimes it might be learning something new, having lunch with a friend, getting rest, or having privileges. This allows us to remember the good even in the difficult days. The sour may represent a challenge, frustration, or just something awkward about the day. We use these sour moments to talk about ways to deal with uncomfortable moments and different personalities. These talks are seeds sown to help our children become comfortable sharing good and bad moments and experiences while they are young believing that when they are older, and life is more complicated, they will continue to feel comfortable to share.
Listening to our spouse and/or children highlight the sweet and sour of their day at dinnertime gives us better insight to their world. We can use dinnertime to know where we can provide support and encouragement to those we love.
3. Would you rather?
Oh, this is the all-time favorite conversation starter of our youngest son. The guidelines are pretty simple. One person will read a question: “Would you rather eat chips or chocolate?” Then each person responds with their choice. As a family, we then take turns explaining our responses. Since there is not a right or wrong choice, there is not the pressure to pick a right answer. Plus, it allows everyone a chance to talk and share.
The questions can be fun and off the wall. Sometimes we use printables I find on Pinterest, other times our fellas make up their questions. We often play Would you rather? on the road, waiting for an appointment, or when we have guests over. Who said dinnertime had to be boring?
Some of my favorite memories have happened sitting together around our family table talking, sharing and laughing about the day. Just listening to my fellas chat about their friends, things they want to invent, and places they want to go often bring a smile to my face. I must admit the numerous fart jokes and stories can be a little too much, but I guess that is what you get when you are the only lady in a house full of guys.
These are just a few conversation starters that work for my family. What are a few of yours? I would love to add to our list.
Cheering you on,
Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.
My husband and I play the “would you rather” game all the time. Then we usually go off on some tangent somewhere that ends in weird questions like “I wonder who invented the fork…” and then we google to learn random trivia! Haha, whatever works right? I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough to join in!
I love these ideas!!! Prodding conversation at the dinner table is often hard (and can involve some behind-the-scenes prodding/prepping of Dear Husband to pull his share, too!) – But instead of asking people “How was your day?” (= one word answers), I try to say “Who wants to talk about their day first?” and then encourage everyone else to listen w/o interrupting. (The listening part is esp hard for my girls some nights!)
Kale @ steakandkale.com
I love the journal idea! I might try that one at our house!
I wrote a post about a slightly different version of the Would You Rather as a conversation starter for kids! Such a fun game!!
Mamie L. PackKale @ steakandkale.com
We love “Would you rather” because it’s great for all ages.
My kids are still pretty little but I’ll have to remember these!!
Mamie L. PackMeredith
When our kiddies are little talking is usually not a problem. 😆😆😆
Love these ideas. We only get to sit all together as a family 3 or so times a week and I feel like the kids prefer not to. I always find some way to get them talking but it can be a challenge. I am going to use these ideas and prompts!
Wonderful ideas. I will definitely use them with my little ones. Thank you!
Mamie L. PackBrandy Wilcoxen
That is great! Glad to hear it.
A Nation of Moms
It’s nice to have some ways to connect instead of the usual obsession with technology. It can be tough to coax teens to talk as well, so it’s nice to have some ideas for conversation.
Mamie L. PackA Nation of Moms
Oh, yes getting those teens to talk at dinner time can be a challenge. Having creative questions can definitely draw them out and help them to engage more.
These are good ideas. My husband and I are always just asking each other how our days were and that question gets very boring! I’m going to start asking these now!
Mamie L. PackKristi
Yay Kristi! It is too easy to get caught up in the monotony of the day. It great to have some helpful questions in your back pocket to help at dinnertime.
I feel like dinner time convos are SO important this day and age, it is somethings we have done since our children were old enough and will continue to do. I love the sweet and sour idea- we do that but call it high and low! Excellent read!
Mamie L. PackChris Nelson
In today’s technological world, we must be intentional in creating moments of connection. I try to make them whenever I can.
Wonderful list! A good conversation between the family over dinner is better than dessert!
Mamie L. PackMelissa
I love when we can just sit, talk and laugh together.
Thank you for this! It’s getting harder and harder to engage with my 11 year old naturally. I hope this helps!
Mamie L. Packfeleciamonique88
That tween age is a unique time for our kiddos. Definitely have to try creative ways to help stay connected with them.
we do have the sweet and sour moment conversations as well as would you rather… and it tends to get silly 🙂 but yes, we find ourselves googling for information because of these
Mamie L. Packvidya
I love hearing that. Family time should be fun.
I love this…I am a big believer about families sitting down at the dinner table.. I have 5 girls, so I take each one out, for alone time, just with me and the daughter I have chosen. We always go out to eat It is then, across that table, that I find out how they are really thinking…friends, school, life in general.
Oh these are awesome! I hadn’t heard of that journal but am intrigued 🙂 I love the sweet and sour idea and I know kids would love would you rather. Great tips!
The sweet and sour idea is cute and thoughtful. I’d probably have my kid share a sour first and then sweet so we end on the positive, but I really like it!
These are great ideas! I actually have the q&a journal but for moms. Growing up I never sat and ate dinner with my family, we all went to our own rooms or living room, so dinnertime discussions are something I can’t wait to make a tradition
I like the sweet and sour approach, it’s a great way to have the kids think about specifispecifics in their day instead of just saying their day was fine.
These are great tips! My sister does one similar to Sweet and Sour called High Low. This last year I started asking my boys 3 good things that happened during their day because I found them just complaining about everything when I picked them up. I will have to try some of these.
These are all great conversation starters! All a great way for a family to stay connected! I think it is very important to have quality time.
Kristine | Smart Living Mama
I love this post! We are a family of six and we already do some of these things, but I’m definitely going to implement some more of your ideas! Thank you for sharing!
I love the idea of the Q&A book! I think I will get it when my son is a little older. We have a no gadget rule when eating (whether it’s a snack or dessert) so I know this will come handy in the future!