My mission with these posts is simply to share one mom’s desire (mine) to make family dinners more healthy, fun and meaningful vs. well, the reality. If you missed my initial post about baby steppin’ toward better family dinners, you may want to read that first.
While the baby steps toward better family dinners have continued at a slow pace, evidence as has surfaced via a first grade class assignment that all is not well around the dinner table at my house:
Yes, siblings can bring an extra dimension of difficulty to the table, can’t they? The challenges at our house run the gamut, it appears, from one who likes to talk more than the other, to arguments over “he got more than I did!” to simply getting overly silly at the table until one boy’s green peas are swimming in the other boy’s milk. Of course, conflict is inevitable, especially during the dinner hour when kids are typically overtired and cranky. And while I’m certainly no expert on how to handle these situations, trial and error is giving me a little insight I can share.
My insight this week is that games can be very, very helpful around dinner time. Not only can they be a great way to connect with and learn more about your family, at the same time, they are also an excellent distraction for other, less savory activities that could occur instead (see exhibit A again above).
The Family Dinner Project offers lots of game ideas, one of which I decided to try out while we were waiting for our dinner at a restaurant the other evening. The kids were getting antsy and while my usual reflex would be to give them an i-Phone to play on, I heard myself saying (sort of like an out-of-body experience), “Let’s play a game!” I explained that in this game called Which one of These is True, we tell two made-up stories and one true story, and the other players then guess which story is the true one.
“I’ll go first,” I said.
It was a little challenging initially, for every true story that came to mind seemed to be something bad or potentially illegal that mommy did when she was younger. But I got the hang of it. The boys loved the game so much that they couldn’t wait for their next turn to tell stories, both true and imagined. And in the process, we learned things about each other. For example, Mommy once rode her bike 100 miles around Lake Tahoe (who was that woman?!). Daddy once got locked in a castle in Poland! And we learned who sang what song at school that day, who went to the nurse’s office for a lice check and who helped a friend with an art project—simple yet (mostly) proud moments. The game went along with minimal controversy all the way until the food arrived, except for a couple of sibling conflicts about whose turn was next. Hey, nothing’s perfect, right? At least fun was had by all, no i-Phones were used and no peas were floating uninvited in anyone’s milk.
Baby steppin’ away….