The Family That Dines Together

“Courtesy of Sommer Poquette”

When I was a little girl, my dad walked in the door every night at 6:30 and we all sat down to dinner at 6:45. At the time, I didn’t think much of it but now that I have my own family I’ve realized two things: it’s almost impossible to get everyone in one place at the same time to do anything and I’m not sure how my mom did it, and some of the most memorable family bonding happens during dinner conversations.

Like any good mom, I’m trying to create better family habits, like Friday Night Game Night. While we may not all sit down to dinner at 6:45, I am carving out time each day to have fun yet meaningful conversations with all four kids in our home.  These discussions can take place anywhere — on the way to school, while watering the plants, during walks around the block after dinner, before reading a bedtime story or even at the dinner table!

If the cliché question, “So, how was your day?” is heard too many times, the conversation you’re hoping for may fizzle right out!  I truly want to know what my son Jack is thinking because the thoughts of a 4-year-old are precious and his questions are amazing. One of my favorite recent questions from Jack was, “Do robots like sun?” This creative inquiry opened the door for us to talk about whether a robot could walk on the sun, why the sun is hot and if robots can talk, get their feelings hurt or tell jokes. I also like to save Jack’s best quotes and questions in a scrapbook.

Good conversation starters are golden. Here are some questions we like to ask because they can be revised and used again and again:

  1. “Remember when we [insert family activity]? What was your favorite thing we did, ate, smelled, felt, saw?” Jack loves the “Remember When?” game.
  2. “What funny/silly/kooky/difficult/sad/scary/icky thing happened at school today?”
  3. “What made you smile today?” Our eBay Classifieds Ambassador Sommer Poquette of Green and Clean Mom says, “The answers are always cute and that keeps things positive and upbeat at the table. It’s perfect for the end of the day whether we’re at the restaurant, camping or eating at home.”
  4. “What do you worry about the most?”
  5. “What’s your opinion about [insert age-appropriate current event]?”
  6. If a [pirate/dinosaur/princess/historical figure/fictional character/athlete] came to dinner, what would you ask him/her? What would you make for dinner?”

    As parents and caretakers, it is our job to teach, challenge and stimulate our children. Asking questions and hearing answers is not only fun, it lays the foundation for wonderful conversations for a lifetime.