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Let’s talk: 3 fun ways to engage the family during dinnertime

Is family conversation during dinner time 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 sometimimg_3016es challenging. That is when I saw this book 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 the meal, 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 gives better insight to their world. We can use this time 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.

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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.

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