Maybe you can relate?
I used to feel so frustrated after spending time planning and cooking our family dinner only to have my family wolf it down in 15 minutes barely saying two words to each other. My husband and I felt like interrogators trying to create conversation, “How was your day?”, “Did you get your science project turned in?”, “How was soccer today?”
No wonder the kids couldn’t wait to leave the table! ?
For our busy family, dinner time is a rare chance for us all to be together in one spot. I longed for connection and conversation at the family dinner table.
So, I made a plan.
Yes, there are nights that dinner has to be a hurry-up affair with studying, soccer practice, debate club, and track meets pressing on us. But at least once a week, I became intentional about our time at the table together. I was on a mission to slow down dinner time and find ways for us to enjoy each other’s company.
One of the strategies I like to use is playing conversation games.
You don’t need any supplies and there are no complicated rules to follow. All your family needs to play these games is a mouth for talking and ears for listening (and a good attitude helps also).
Try out one of my five favorite family conversation games tonight at your table.
3, 2, 1 Questions
You’ll be amazed at what you will learn about each other with these three simple questions. Take turns answering the 3, 2, 1:
Share 3 good things that happened to you today. Share 2 things you hope to do tomorrow. Share 1 thing you are grateful for.
My family loves TableTopics! I keep a box here on the kitchen table. A box has 135 cards; each with a conversational question. Place one card at each seat or choose one card at a time for each person to take a turn answering. TableTopics come in several different versions; Family, Teen, Happiness, and even adult versions like Cocktail Party. You can find TableTopics at Amazon. Here are some sample questions from the Family TableTopics set of cards:
- What five foods do you wish were banished from the earth?
- If you could shop for free at one store, which one would you choose?
- Who is the funniest person you know?
You can easily make your own conversation cards. You’ll find lots of good suggestions with a Google search.
Would You Rather
Would You Rather is easy and adaptable to all ages. The only rule is that you have to pick one option- the answer can’t be, “Neither!” Follow up answers with “Why?” Plan ahead with prepared questions or be spontaneous and let each family member come up with their own Would You Rather questions for the group. Here are some sample questions: Would you rather…
- have tacos every night for dinner or pizza?
- be able to fly or be invisible?
- live in the past or the future?
- be blind or deaf?
- go shopping or go hiking?
- be the best player on a losing team or the worst player on a winning team?
- be cold all the time or hot all the time?
This is a fast-moving game played in rounds. I love this game for family reunions and larger family gatherings. You’ll need at least five to play. You can substitute standing and sitting for thumbs up and down. Appoint a caller for each round. The caller doesn’t play in the round. He instructs everyone to put a thumb up. The caller then makes a statement such as “I have been ice skating.” If the statement is true about you, then you keep your thumb up. If you have not been ice skating then you put your thumb down and you are out of this round. The caller keeps making statements until there is only one person left with his thumb up in the round. The caller can customize his statements as he sees who still has thumbs up. Here are some sample caller statements:
- I like broccoli.
- I play an instrument.
- I have broken a bone.
- I usually remember my dreams.
- I read a book this month.
- I have gotten a speeding ticket.
- I like cats better than dogs.
Choose one topic such as favorite movies, restaurants, desserts, friends or family memories. Take turns sharing what your Four Favorites are. Ask each other lots of good “Why?” questions about each others’ Four Favorites. The challenge is to gather together the next night at dinner and see how many Favorites everyone can remember about each person.
Do you see any conversation games that interest you? Try one tonight at dinner and let me know how it goes!
With a little effort, your family mealtimes can be enjoyable, meaningful, and memorable. If you’d like more help with your family’s manners, check out this free guide I’ve written for you! It’s my very best advice on how to teach your children good manners in a fun and stress-free way.