5 Ways to Make Dinnertime More Fun

by - March 21, 2019

Has your family fallen into the convenient but bad habit of not eating dinner together at the table? There are a lot of reasons why you should insist on family dinners. Statistics show that eating dinner together as a family leads to better academic performance, higher self-esteem, lowered risks of drug abuse, depression, eating disorders, and obesity.

As a working mom with a husband who does shift work, I know that getting everyone together at the same time can be challenging. A lot of nights Alexis and I eat dinner by ourselves. On those nights, we usually eat something simple, and more often than not we don't eat at the table. Instead we get out the TV trays and eat in the living room while we watch a show or movie. Whenever we eat together as a whole family, we eat at the table with the TV off.

Here are the major differences between those two scenarios in our house:
-When we eat at the table, the conversation is more focused. The TV isn't distracting us.
-Alexis eats better, if not slower, at the table. I'm more confident in knowing that she's full.
-The after-dinner clean-up is confined to one small area instead of the entire living room.

Whenever we get ready to sit down to eat, it never fails - Alexis is going to ask to eat in front of the TV. I can't blame her, really. At almost 4 years old, a cartoon or movie is more interesting than the dinner table...or is it? I believe there are simple things we can do to make dinner more fun so our kids will actually enjoy sitting down with mom and dad. Below are five tricks I've used with much success.

1. Put a New Spin on an Old Favorite
With smaller children, it's easy to fall into a dinner rut. Often times they'll only eat two or three types of meals, and if you're like me, you refuse to fix two separate dinners to compensate for it. Thankfully, Alexis is growing out of that stage so our weekly meals are getting more diverse, but for awhile all we ate was tacos, chili and spaghetti. So how do you change things up for such simple dishes? You can swap out tacos for cheesy chicken enchiladas (recipe to come), chili for chili mac, and add meatballs to plain old spaghetti.

2. Set the Table
Generally speaking, I fix our dinner plates in the kitchen and then carry them to the table. But every once in awhile, I set the table properly with all of our food in fun serving dishes. We always have flowers on the table (it's one of mine and Alexis's things), but sometimes if we're feeling fancy we'll light some candles.

3. Pull Out Your Nice Dinner Plates and/or Fancy Glasses
Most nights we eat on plain white, indestructible Corelle plates. They're easy to wash, and I don't have to worry about them getting dropped and broken. But I try to pull out our nicer stoneware plates at least once a week. They're more colorful and make dinner feel a little fancier. I usually only pull out my goblets when we have guests, and even then Alexis doesn't get one because of her age, but this is definitely something I'll do when she's older.

4. Have Dessert
For most dinners, we don't do dessert, so adding a dessert to our menu makes the meal seem a little more special, even if it's just a bowl of ice cream.

5. Let Your Little Ones Help
This may be the most important tip. Your kids will be more excited about eating a dinner they helped prepare. And you don't have to give them a big job. Alexis is happy if I let her pour in the ingredients of something I'm mixing or stirring a pot of something. But it is important that you let them know how much help they were. That way they'll want to keep helping in the future!

 I hope you like these tips and that they help make your family's dinner time more fun! Share ways you get your kids to the table fuss-free in the comments!

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