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Three things you learned in college to survive family meals (by Jennifer Davis)

by bkhoury on October 19, 2011

By now, we are all familiar with the statistics touting the benefits of the family meal.  Studies show that families who make a habit of eating dinner together have kids who do better in school, have higher self esteem, stay away from drugs, make their beds without having to be asked and floss regularly.  I exaggerate, but only a little—eating dinner together is important.

The problem is that eating together, especially with little kids, can also make you crazy.  The whining, the spills the “he’s staring at me, mom, make him stop staring at me, MOM, MOM, MOM, MOM!” is enough to make you rethink the family dinner and decide to roll the dice with the lower grades and flagging self esteem. 

When our dinnertime reaches the breaking point and we’re considering shipping the kids off to finishing school, we dig deep into our bag of tricks and pull out a few party tricks to help ease the tension and make dinner fun again.  Here’s our go to list:

Three Truths and a Lie
Each person takes a turn saying three things that happened that day and one thing that did not.  Everyone at the table tries to guess the lie.  Your acting skills may have to come into play here as you pretend to struggle to pick out the lie in, “I had cereal for breakfast, I played with Sophie at recess, I stepped in a mud puddle at soccer practice and I saw a unicorn on the monkey bars,” but it helps keep people talking and laughing through dinner. 

Party Fouls
Kids are going to spill.  They’re also going to use their shirts as napkins and at one point, someone in your family will attempt to burp the A B C’s (hopefully not the one you’re married to).  I’ve discovered that blithely declaring something a party foul helps diffuse the situation and stop the behavior just as effectively as a shrill, “clean it up/use your napkin/that’s disgusting!” 

Commercial Time
This one is not for the faint of heart.  If you can’t tolerate a seriously heavy dose of family cheese, please stop reading. 

Ok here we go.  When things get really dicey at the table and we’re in survival mode, we pretend to shoot a commercial.  As in, “Jake loves broccoli, take one—ACTION!”  I can’t believe it works, but it does.  Every single time.  The kid in the commercial comes up with a few lines about the item on his fork being nutritious and delicious, takes a big happy bite and declares it yummy.  The director yells cut, finds a reason why that take won’t work (chewing with mouth open, not an emphatic enough yum, way too much giggling, not enough giggling) and the kid does take two, and take three and another and another until dinner is finished.  Cheesier than a plate of nachos at a Velveeta convention, but very effective.

Now it’s your turn.  Any dinnertime shenanigans that help keep family meals fun?  Please let us know in the comments section.

  • We sing corny kids songs and recite nursery rhymes when things get out of control! It helps focus on something other than the food and the fact that they need to STAY SEATED!

    By Amelia on October 20, 2011 at 12:35 PM
  • Love those ideas! My two boys are just 2 & 3 so a little too young to do those, but I’ll keep those stashed in the back of my mind for down the road. When one child declares “ALL DONE!” and wants down while the rest of us are still eating, we have him get a book and bring it back to the table so he is occupied/entertained but still seated with us for a while longer.

    By Amy on October 20, 2011 at 04:00 PM
  • What a post!! Very informative and easy to understand. Looking for more such posts!! Do you have a myspace?
    Online Business Listing

    By bili on January 2, 2012 at 05:02 PM
  • I have never enjoyed my days during my college years because I was just too busy struggling and working at the same time to finish my college.

    By angela on March 24, 2012 at 01:40 PM
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