Does the title of this post seem a bit dramatic? I know what you are thinking: "Why would she ban dinner conversation? I want to encourage family dinner conversation! I want family bonding! I want to know what my kids do at school, help them get in touch with their feelings and all that jazz."
Well, I'm not against family dinner conversation. If you are already having delightful conversations with your family at dinner, good for you! Perhaps this post is not for you after all. Although my suggestion may come in handy for whatever your family's challenge is, so hear me out.
Forced dinner questions such as "How was your day?", "What did you do in school?" were not working for us. My older son wanted to read at the table and my younger son kept getting up. I've been working HARD on having calmer and kinder after-school afternoons with less yelling, more exercise and kinder moments, but it was all disintegrating at dinner. I needed to think outside the box.
First, let me say that we eat dinner early, around 5:00. We also eat before my husband gets home, so it is just me and the two boys. I knew I had to bring something really interesting to the table (pardon the pun), to make dinnertime something to enjoy, not something to escape from. After all, I know all about why family meals are important.
I actually have a list of ideas that have been working for us, but I will save those for another time and instead focus on the biggest winner. It's something you may not expect. When I told my neighbor, she thought I was nuts, so I am expecting other parents to be slightly put off by the idea. However, it has been FUN and it has WORKED. (By the way, the FTC requires me to tell you that this post contains affiliate links, and I'm a rule follower.)
Am I crazy?
Well, yes. But that's another matter entirely.
Here are the benefits of doing Mad Libs at dinner.
1. The kids stay at the table. They want to hear the end result, of course!
2. It is funny. This year we are laughing together more and it is GREAT. Laughter puts everyone in a good mood and it may even make you smarter.
3. It's great for literacy. Your kids will learn about adjectives, adverbs and proper nouns in no time.
4. It's common ground. Who doesn't love Mad Libs?
5. The boys practice at taking turns. They may even listen to each other's suggestions for words and work together to think up a particularly funny sounding word.
6. It's something the kids have come to look forward to. They now associate dinner with FUN.
So, I realize this may seem like an unconventional dinner activity, and perhaps I'm not really banning family dinner conversation after all. I'm just giving it a new twist. What do you think? Will you try it? Or am I just being silly? (Which is sort of the point, really.)
Our favorite Mad Libs so far (we also love the Pirate and Mad Scientist ones. Next, I will be trying Ninja!):
More help for parents to stay unplugged with their kids:
- 8 Ways to Use Poetry to Calm Your Kids and Bring Joy to Your Daily Life
- No-prep easy activities to keep 2-4 year olds busy
- Encouraging Family Harmony with Kindness Tokens
- Unplugged Ideas to Keep Kids Busy While You Cook Dinner
- Funny Flips: a DIY word game