Looking Forward to Eating Together

Staying closer to home and limited options for dining elsewhere have given families much more time to share meals together. Random multiple schedules may have robbed you of any increase in time around the table together but there is a way to help everyone look forward to putting down the cell phone long enough to pick up a fork and have some conversation.

Combining the fun of playing a game together with questions that put smiles on faces could make all the difference in whether we dread or look forward to time around the table. Making your conversation more interesting than the reruns on television is easier than you might think.

Start with ice-breaker questions. Have each person tell how many months or days it is until their next birthday. Personal, easily calculated facts help involve each person with a minimum of effort. Ice-breakers open the game without drilling too deep into anyone’s psyche.

Next, ask an information question. Go around the table sharing one thing that you found interesting or fun today. It might be a high score on a game or a random fact from the school assignment. It could involve something you saw on the news or something you saw in the recommended stories at the bottom of a webpage.

There won’t be enough meaningful information to make anyone come back next time in these first two rounds of questions but they will help prepare the way for what will put those smiles on everyone’s faces.

Round three reveals something that each person is good at doing. “When I need ________ I go to ________ (member of the family).” Or try, “I like it when ________ (member of the family) ________ (what they do that you look forward to).” Go around twice if everyone isn’t included in receiving accolades.

If it’s going well, go deeper. Make round four a compliment or a trait you value in another member of the family. “Mom gives the best hugs,” or “Dad always knows what to say,” helps put a smile on everyone’s face. Nods of agreement often accompany these statements because other members of the family find the same trait when they need it. Statements like this are great around the birthday dinner table. Honoring someone for more than existing for a set number of years helps them feel more valued.

Honor isn’t just for birthdays or Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Valuing one another in the little things helps promote valuable behavior in all things. Little things lead to bigger things. Helping around the house makes taking someone to the store easier. Giving promotes more giving. Selfishness stifles interaction and dampens the environment.

Life around the house during quarantine can be encouraging or depressing. Quality time around the table can put a smile on faces that might have struggled a bit to get work done. Lifting up one another is even more important when friends and workmates are further away. Create your own variations and start looking forward to time around the table together!

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