When it comes to family mealtimes, making things fun is one of the many effective ways to bring kids and grown-ups together, time and time again. Whether you’re looking to make your family dinners run a bit more smoothly or you want to set up some special days throughout the week, you can employ a few techniques to make sure everyone enjoys themselves at the dinner table.
No matter how old your kids are, there are a few favourites you can start on when the family is in a bit of a dinner rut. It’s all about making sure everyone feels engaged, happy and welcome. Here’s how:
1. Include Everybody
Even if you’re working with difficult schedules and hectic activities, it can be worthwhile to make sure your whole clan can come together for your family mealtimes. Ensuring everyone feels included can create tradition and community around your eating rituals.
This may mean you need to pick slightly awkward times or perhaps reduce the number of family meals to only a few occasions each week. It can be beneficial to do so, especially if this means keeping your family’s main source of socialisation as a complete unit. Keep track of everyone’s schedules and encourage open communication. When you have a steady, consistent flow of information, it becomes that much easier to plan and unite.
2. Serve Up Some Favourites
One of the best ways to get the whole household excited about family mealtimes is to make foods everyone likes. The food is the center of the event – it brings everyone in and creates a focal point for the evening. Even if you don’t include special treats every time, making favourite dishes can get everyone excited about the meal together.
Whether your kids go wild for pizza, macaroni or chicken nuggets, including these foods somewhere in your meal can get them to the table with enthusiasm. You can even plan a pizza night or a designated night each week for a household favorite treat. This doesn’t mean you can’t make healthy food or change things up from time to time. For example, salads and slaws can make great sides for pizza.
3. Cook Together
If you have the time and space, cooking together as a family can make family mealtimes feel like a special adventure or project of sorts. No matter how young your kids are, you can include them and give them jobs in the kitchen while you make dinner. Meals can feel more rewarding and engaging when they’re a product of working together.
Even if you cook together just once a week, spending that extra time with one another as a part of the process can be fun for everyone. Plus, kids love to copy their parents and do what grown-ups do. If you show them that you’re cooking, they’ll likely want to follow suit. And for older kids, participating in meal prep can teach them valuable life skills they need to learn.
4. Play a Game
Regardless of your kids’ age, playing a game at the dinner table can spice things up and bring in new conversations. Word association games and activities that spark discussions are often great for the dinner table, as you’ll all likely be occupied with your meals. For younger kids, games like “I spy” and “20 questions” are great options, as they aren’t too conceptually deep, but they offer a lot of fun.
If you’re looking to bring interesting conversations into your meals with older kids, question topics or question cards can help you explore discussions that don’t usually appear at your table. No matter what games you choose, they can liven up your meal with vibrant communication for everyone.
5. Try Something New
If you’re looking to get everyone pumped, why not try out a new recipe? Whether you’re exploring ideas the kids will love or bringing a more sophisticated touch, trying out a different recipe can bring some excitement to the dinner table. If your kids are itching to eat a specific food, try cooking it together or putting your own spin on it.
Or, if you’re particularly short on time, get some takeout from a food spot in your town you’re particularly eager to try. Who knows? You could find a brand-new favorite.
6. Get Your Just Desserts
Kids can be suckers for a dessert. And – let’s face it – so can adults. Ending your meal with a little treat can be the perfect way to liven up the whole table. This tip also doesn’t mean you need to ruin your perfectly nutritious meal by filling up on cake at the end. You can rethink dessert by including healthy recipes or introducing a light snack of fruit at the end of a meal. Either way, it’s sure to strike a chord.
With whatever you make, you have many ways to get everyone on board with eating together and creating a routine that brings quality time and quality tastes. All you have to do is, do it together.
What are your tips for fun family mealtimes together? Tell us in the comments below.