Tag Archives: entertainment

Dinner Time is Family Time

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.

Story Dice

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.

Things Review

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!

Conclusion

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.

Knights of the IKEA Round Table

The Plan

Most of my ideas for entertaining the kids are shamelessly copied from things I did with my younger brother when we were kids. I’m yet to introduce them to the hilarious enjoyment of chasing a sibling with dog poo on the end of stick. I will save that one for the summer. A more civilised childhood brotherly pursuit was Chess.

Chess has been around for approximately 27 million years so it felt like the perfect game to try and get them interested in. It would get them thinking, we could extend it into some arts and crafts at some point by maybe building our own chess set but also it reminded me of playing Battle Chess on the PC with my brother in the 90s on our beat up Amstrad PC.

Battle Chess was a great game and a genius marketing ploy by the developers. It was just a basic chess game but whenever you took a piece it played a little animation of the two chess pieces battling until one died in glorious fashion. This was going to be my way into getting the kids hooked too.

What actually happened

Before we go any further let me introduce the kids. We will call them Thing 1, Thing 2 and Thing 3 in a honour of the wonderful Dr. Seuss. Thing 3 is a little girl of toddler age. Thing 2 is a boy not long started in primary school and Thing 1 is a girl halfway through her primary school adventure. To check if they were ready for chess we had a quick quiz in the car:

Me: So what’s the aim of the game in Chess?
Thing 2: It’s a TOY WAR!!

Tremendous answer.

Me: Do you know what way the pieces can move?
Thing 1: The queen can move in all directions as much as she wants. She’s the best piece on the board. Girls rule the world. whoooop!

Another great answer albeit one with a strong feminist agenda.

Me: So will we try and play when we get home?
Thing 3: Baby shark do do do dooo ddooo

While Thing 3 played with her Noah’s Ark (for the animals not the religious undertones) I set about getting Thing 1 and Thing 2 playing against each other in Battle Chess 3D on the tablet. The game was great in that when you selected a piece it showed you where it could move to so they quickly got the hang of making moves and trying to take their siblings pieces. They did take maybe too much enjoyment in sacrificing their pawns so they could watch the animation of them being killed! It was great to see them not fall out with each other either when they lost a piece. Perhaps they are destined to be cold hearted field marshals sacrificing their soldiers for overall victory. Come to think of it Thing 1’s Napoleon outfit did seem excessive for a wednesday evening.

Things Review

Thing 3 couldn’t really participate so it’s a 0 out of 5 from her. Thing 2 loved the battle chess element but not as keen on the real world version so a 3 out of 5 from him. Thing 1 definitely got more value which isn’t surprising, being the oldest. She enjoyed it more than the others and loved trying to work out the different moves for the different pieces. 4 out of 5 from her giving us an average of just slightly under 3 out of 5 overall.

Conclusion

Chess was a different activity for them to try and I loved when they worked as a team figuring out the moves together. It cost nothing to download battle chess onto the tablet and I had picked up a cheap set in the pound-shop (for a pound unsurprisingly). It definitely has legs as a reoccurring activity and I definitely think the Things will now be up for helping me fulfill my long term dream of building a Lego chess set!