Sitting together at the dinner table with kids can be a challenge and the Things are no exception. I’ve made it our goal that whenever it’s meal time, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner we sit and eat together. Its a chance for the four of us to talk and importantly, in this era of always on devices, just be present with each other. Now lets not kid ourselves here, it isn’t always an ideal little family moment, there are arguments and tears (sometimes the Things cry too!) but this post is all about how we’ve evolved feeding time to be a fun activity in itself
So what actually happened
Eating together means we really need to eat the same thing so it can be served all at once. There’s obviously cost benefits to making the one meal for the four of us too. Thing 1 has recently shown a knack for cooking and that’s added another dimension to our dining when the Things can help prepare it. If Thing 1 is busy making a bolognese then Thing 2 and Thing 3 get the important responsibility of setting the table. The Things all have their own specific chair and so making them set the table helps reinforce where their spot is in our crew. Once dinner is ready, it’s not served until everyone is sitting at the table. The very important duty falls to Thing 3 to round everyone up. She does her job with gusto and it always makes me smile when I hear her tiny wee voice telling her brother and sister their dinner is ready. Recently we’ve been using some technology to help build the occasion; Thing 2 will do the honours as I bring in the food with a perfectly timed “Alexa, can you play a drumroll please”
When we’re all sitting and eating together, I’m not going to pretend that we have a lively debate and discussion of the political zeitgeist. The usual pulling of teeth occurs when the Things are asked “how was their day” , “how was school” so my tactics have evolved to incorporate different games that we play between mouthfuls to keep everyone talking and (hopefully) laughing.
I invested a fiver in a set of story dice from flying tiger and they sit pride of place in the centre of the table. Whoever is making a good effort to eat their dinner gets to go first. They roll the dice and have to make up a story based on the pictures shown on each of the dice. The Things took to this game far better than expected, not least because one of the pictures is reminiscent of the poo emoji. Nothing like a made-up story about poo to get everyone laughing.
The Animal Game
This is a game I made up when Thing 1 and 2 were a few years younger and is a firm favourite. Whoever’s turn it is (again, doing a good job eating your dinner earns you the right to go first) has to think of an animal and then everyone else has to ask questions to try and guess what the animal is. “Does it live on a farm?” , “Does it have sharp claws?” That kind of thing. Basically it’s a variation on the yes/no game with added rules about taking a decent bite of your dinner before you can ask a question. Thing 2 loves this game because we can never guess the animal he’s thinking of. Usually because it’s an animal he has just invented.
The Teeth Game
Thing 1 brought this game to dinner last year and we have been playing it ever since. Everyone has to take turns saying a fruit or vegetable but you can’t show your teeth when speaking or you are out. This game always has everyone laughing particularly when I try and say aubergine without showing my teeth.
Eating together is now our norm and rather than ask the Things to review it I am just happy that it’s a consistently fun time that we spend together and their laughing is all the endorsement needed!
As the Things get older we will adapt and tweak the games and activities but meal time together will always be our thing. My little knights of the round table know that it’s our rally point and when they are in the mood to talk more about their day it’s our safe place to have those chats.