When a month starts with a whole day dedicated to fooling people, it feels like a good time to talk about the importance of having fun, especially at family dinner. Most of us probably have childhood (or even adulthood!) memories of being told “Stop fooling around!” or “Don’t play with your food!” at the dinner table. We may even say those same things to our own children. But it may be time to reconsider.
Did you know that researchers in Finland found that when kids were allowed to experience food with all five of their senses — yes, including touch! — they were more likely to choose fruits and vegetables than they were if they weren’t allowed to use all their senses to explore foods? Did you also know that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parent-child playfulness as a good way to form stronger family connections? Both of these are good reasons to take a step back from the idea that family dinner should always be a well-mannered, serious time, and try approaching some mealtimes as playtimes instead.
Whether your dinners include toddlers, teens or just people who are young at heart, having fun together while you eat is an essential element of making mealtimes meaningful. Here are some ways to make fooling around at dinnertime a positive part of your routine:
There are lots of benefits to eating together as a family, but one of the most enduring is the positive memories you can make when you set aside time to spend with each other and share food, fun and conversation. Adding some “fooling around” to the experience can help make those memories ones you’ll want to share for many years to come.
Meet the Sterenbergs, a family of five from Ohio who are prioritizing frequent family dinners filled with bad jokes and laughter!
Get hands-on and use all your senses to make pretzels together — bonus points for fooling around with new and different shapes!
Fool around with new tastes and old favorites, and ask diners to guess the ingredient.
Get everyone in the mood for a fun family dinner with this conversation starter!