fbpx Print Friendly Logo

Want to share this page with your friends?

Newsletter: September 2023

New Ways to Ask “How Was Your Day?”

“How was your day?” is probably the most common question any of us ask at the end of a school or work day. It’s also possibly the biggest conversation-killer.

“Fine.” “Okay, I guess.” “Bad.” “Normal.” “It was just a day.” These are the kinds of responses my kids usually provide – or, worse, the dreaded grunt/shrug/eye roll. Then we enter tricky territory. Do I ask the logical follow-up questions (“What did you do?” “Do you want to tell me anything about it?”) and risk getting more one-word responses or driving them away altogether? Or do I keep my mouth shut and spend the next hour wondering what they actually did all day? I, like most parents, really need some new ways to ask “How was your day?”

We’ve written quite a bit over the years about the one-word-answer phenomenon. This school year, we’re committed to helping families get past this hurdle. Here’s how you can overcome the end-of-day conversation struggle:

  • Set the stage and pick your moment. Dr. Anne Fishel’s tips for getting past one-word answers are classic Family Dinner Project content, and for good reason. Among her best advice: Give time for loved ones to transition and take a breath before you start asking questions. And making sure they’re fed first doesn’t hurt, either! Get the rest of her wisdom on the subject here.
  • Let them come to you. In this interview about helping kids open up – written as COVID-19 restrictions eased – clinicians Juliana Chen and Tai Katzenstein offer plenty of advice for parents that still applies. One of their recommendations is to remember that you don’t always have to be talking to your kids to be connecting with them. Go ahead and play that video game with them, or agree to toss a ball around the backyard. Odds are they’ll start talking before you know it.
  • Be ready with much better questions! Don’t waste time with “How was your day?” if you don’t have to. We’ve compiled a list of 100 questions you can ask instead, all of which are much more likely to get family members of all ages talking. And our printable list includes a bonus set of school-related “Would You Rather” questions to extend the conversation even further!

Just to make sure everyone has the help they need, we’ve also got this set of questions specifically for preschoolers, and this article from our archives on how to get past one-word answers with our adult partners. Here’s to ditching “How was your day?” for good!


As another hectic school year begins, remember that family dinners aren’t the only way to gather! Try our quick family breakfast ideas for a shared meal alternative.

The Family Breakfast Project


Did you know that family dinners can improve literacy skills? Learn more – including how to make it fun with special dinner games.

Family Dinner Improves Literacy


Print our big list of 100 Alternatives to “How Was Your Day?” and cut the squares apart to make a conversation jar you can keep at the table.

100 Alternatives to How Was Your Day