Posts tagged #kids' crafts

Dinner Table Games

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Ever since before we had kids, my husband and I held the belief that families benefit when they have dinner together. We hoped to make it a priority and, as much as humanly possible, protect family dinner time. It’s something he grew up with every night of his entire childhood.

 

I, on the other hand, only saw my family in passing as I ran from school to work and hit the McDonald’s drive-thru in between.Now that we actually have a family, I see clearly how in theory family dinners are wonderful, and how, in practice...well, they make you want to run for McDonald’s.

At every phase, the “family dinner” has been an ideal we’ve been chasing. You know the one in your fantasy head, where all the kids come when you call them, sit politely, and thank you for cooking? Then you all share the highlights of your days, pray for the neighbors, and Junior jumps in to help with dishes? Ugh. No. Someone sold me a bill of goods, because that is NOT how it goes down at my house. [She says while realizing this too must be her fault.]

First of all, no one comes to dinner. I call them at least three times. This is inexplicable because I’ve intentionally starved them for the last three hours, (because I still hold one last shred of hope they’ll eat my food). Finally, they arrive. The little one dissolves into whining immediately upon seeing what is on his plate. The older two have learned to choke back the complaints, but it doesn’t stop them from stirring the food around rather than eating it. (For anyone concerned I might actually be torturing them with terrible food, let me ease your mind. It’s not like it’s tofu or liver or something truly horrifying like a potato. It’s totally normal. Like pork chops and broccoli.)

The oldest launches into a diatribe about the last video game he played. My husband, who is acutely aware of his body’s impending starvation melt down, can’t. even. carry on this conversation, because, please can we pray so I can eat before we talk? The little one insists on praying. But he also insists on finishing his milk and lining up his silverware before he begins said prayer.

Finally we get to the Amen and by then tensions are high. My oldest decides to bite the bullet and shove ALL the porkchop in his mouth at once. The middle one decides to get up to find some ranch dressing or other such camouflage for hers. This makes the little one get out of his seat to show us a dance move. This makes the oldest get up to mimic the dance move (now trying not to choke) and then Dad yells at everyone to get back in their seats. Repeat while counting to infinity.

I know people that have given up. They’ll just put the TV on and eat in silence. I’m not going to lie to you, that sounds amazing. Sadly, you can’t see our TV from the table. Others just succumb to the sports schedules. Eat and run, eat in shifts, eat by yourself. That also sounds amazing. Sadly, sports is over for everyone in my family by 5 PM. For better or for worse, after 11 years, the family dinner has been established. It’s basically scheduled torture. So we’re left finding ways to make it work.

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There are only two ways I’ve found to make dinner more pleasant. Number one, (and this is no joke fool proof), cook food that they like. After careful observation, I have noted that when we call Pizza Hut, everyone comes running to the table. No one complains. No one gets out of their seat to dance. They just sit there and eat. It’s awesome. Unfortunately, I can’t feed them garbage every night. I feel like it’s kind of my job to feed them meat and vegetables and healthy carbs. Sorry, kids. Your mom is the meanest. So mostly it’s option 2. Far less effective, but it can work: Dinner Table Games.

If you can manage to engage them, (i.e. distract them from the fact that they’re sitting and eating), you’ll have the win. Asking “How was your day?” will not cut it. The little ones can’t remember their days and the big ones don’t want to. But games, I have found, will draw them in. And every once in awhile, I’ll see a glimpse of the idyllic family dinner I always hoped for. Here are the go-to Dinner Table Games I use, ranked in order of their success at keeping rear ends in seats and forks in motion:

Question of the Day
This one really works! Each day ask an ice-breaker question (lists abound online) and give everyone a chance to answer. Questions like “How would you spend $1 million?” to “If you could tame and keep any wild animal, which one would you choose?” really get kids’ imaginations going and lead to fun conversation.

Good, Bad, and Weird
This is a wonderful way to extract specific details from kids about their days. Everyone has to go around and say something good, something bad, and something weird that happened to them that day.

Highs and Lows
This is another one designed to help kids remember and share their days’ experiences. Everyone shares the high point and the low point of their day.

20 Questions
A classic game my grandmother used to play with me to help me fall asleep on Christmas Eve. Whoever is “it” thinks of a person, place, or animal and everyone else gets to ask 20 yes or no questions (as a group) to guess what it is.

The Movie Quote Game
Everyone gets a turn to say a movie quote, while everyone else tries to guess what movie it’s from. If your family is musical, this can work with song lyrics or humming tunes as well.

Would You Rather?
You can either pre-print a list from the internet or make these up on the fly. Usually the goal is to present two impossible or horrible scenarios, and see which one your kid thinks is worse. I also like to present two choices that are both supremely desirable and see which one they think is better.

Uno
This might not be the best at the dinner table since you actually have to pull out cards (and it doesn’t exactly facilitate conversation…) but sometimes you’re desperate! My kids LOVE Uno and rarely pass up a chance to play. It brings a certain amount of chaos when you start using props at the table, but once in awhile you just have to mix it up.

Headbanz
This is a board game, so, like Uno it could introduce some chaos to your table. Each person puts on a headband and gets a game card that they put into the headband. They don’t know what’s on the card and everyone else has to give them clues as to what they are. Come to think of it, I think there are some phone apps that have similar games.

Telephone
This game will produce hilarity, but it ranks poorly in effectiveness at getting kids to stay in their seats. In fact it will pretty much guarantee they’ll get up so they can whisper in each other’s ears while smearing jelly on each other. Still, playing this with kids is beyond funny. So, a good one to keep in your back pocket...maybe for when Dad is out of town and a little more monkey business than usual will fly.

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Posted on September 6, 2017 and filed under Building Your Family.

Prayer Snowflakes

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One of the best mom tips I’ve ever been given was to write prayer requests on popsicle sticks. Before meals, we have our kids pick a stick or two to pray over. When the prayer is answered, we write the date on the back and the stick goes into a new jar. (Read a little more about this inspired idea here: https://entrustedministries.com/blog/betsys-tips-5-things-i-learned-as-a-young-mom?rq=prayer.)

Recently we bought a new home. I wish I could say it was one of those, “It sold on the first day!” or “We had multiple offers!” stories. It wasn’t. Our home was on the market for a lot longer than we expected, with three boys 5 and under helping us “stage.” Even though our family underwent three surgeries during this time, it would turn out that the time being on the market seemed like the easy part. After the contract was accepted, we  faced multiple inspection issues, our buyer’s financing delayed our move three times, and we found this out after our home was already packed up and our moving pods were loaded. Because of all the date changes, almost all of our moving help had to cancel, and our new moving date overlapped with my new job start. Although certainly not the biggest trial we have gone through, Travis and I were chomping at the bit to close this chapter!

As we were unpacking our boxes the morning after the move, my sweet popsicle-praying friend came through the door with a gift bag. Inside were some very thoughtful, generous treasures, but one in particular melted my heart. She and her children had made a snowflake ornament out of the answered prayer stick. The simplicity of the gift and the devotion of a faithful sister in Christ touched me deeply. I knew she hadn’t just said she would pray for our situation. Her family was part of the reason we were in our new home.

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When Christmas came, I was thrilled to put the snowflake on our tree. I had the thought that we should make more ornaments out of our answered prayer sticks… yet my December got a little too full. Instead, I decided to make some now so that they are ready next winter. In addition, I want to copy my sweet friend and make some gifts. Knowing a friend prayed you through a trial is a treasure. I’m excited to pass these reminders of God’s faithfulness on to friends and family members. One of the best parts of this is that little ones can help with each step except the gluing. So they can pray, create, and give! May they be truly impacted by their role in the Kingdom!

Materials:

Glue gun
Popsicle sticks
Beads and gems
Glitter (optional)
Paint (optional)
String or Fishing Line
Pen

Directions:

1. The wood color of the popsicle sticks is nice, but I wanted to try some with a whitewash of paint. I used my kids’ finger paint and it worked well. While the sticks are still wet, sprinkle with glitter.

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2. After the paint is dry, glue the sticks into the shape of snowflakes. I used three sticks for this step, knowing I would place the “answered prayer stick” horizontally on the top later.  

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3. Line up the final craft stick. Before you glue it down, cut a 6-inch piece of fishing line or string. As you glue the final popsicle stick, slide the ends of the fishing line into the glue. This will give you a way to hang the ornament.

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4. Glue beads and gems onto the craft sticks as you and your kiddos like! 

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5. Turn your ornament over, and write “Answered” and the date on a stick. This is the best part!

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6. Hang in your home, save it for Christmas, or give to a friend. I am making duplicates of some our most exciting miracles. That way we can bless someone else, and we can remember them as we hang them on our tree each year.

I love how simple, inexpensive, and powerful this activity is. May it bless you and your children as you seek to be faithful in your prayer lives!

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Posted on January 11, 2017 and filed under Building Your Family.

Celebrate Moms

A few years ago I heard about the sweetest Mother’s Day idea. Really it can work for birthdays and Father’s Day, too! Instead of buying a card each year for your kids to give their mother (or father), you purchase an unruled journal. Give your kids a few pages to express how they feel about their mom. When they are toddlers, let them scribble a bit.

Perhaps help them to create a fingerprint flower with paint or an ink pad. During the early years, it is especially important for dads to write in the journal, affirming his wife for all of the work and effort she has poured into the children. As the kids get older, it is fun to ask them questions about their mother. Record the interview in the journal, and still give them an opportunity to color a page for her. Their answers can be a little egocentric!

As the kids get even older, carve out time for each of them to write letters of thanks to their mom. Consider making a rough draft, and modeling the process with your own thank you letter. You may even have them create a list, “My 5 Favorite Things About Mom,” or create an acrostic poem for “Mother.” Perhaps they could include a Bible verse that she embodies. I would recommend that no matter how old the kids are, the father should still write in the book. It’s just nice to have it written, even if you affirm your wife all the time.

Imagine after 18 years of parenting, instead of having a box of store-bought cards that you aren’t sure if you can part with or a box of crinkled art projects, you have one concise, thoughtful book of thanks. How fun to look back and see how you’ve impacted your children!

Celebrating mothers is not a Hallmark creation; it’s a biblical standard. Proverbs 31:28, “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” We are repeatedly called to encourage one another in Scripture. The Lord knows mothers need this spurring on as well!

I think it would be fun to create this for birthdays for your children as well. Each year people write to the birthday boy or girl, and you get to look back and see how their personality and character has developed! If grandparents or other family members write meaningful words, consider copying it into the book, or putting the card inside.

A word of advice to fathers: I would not recommend this be your only token of affection to your wives. The following are some ideas, grouped by love language, she may appreciate as well:

  1. Physical Touch: A back rub, foot massage, or time to cuddle on the couch together, maybe even a professional massage
  2. Quality Time: Get a babysitter and have a date night that involves lots of conversation, OR maybe she needs quality all by herself this year. :)
  3. Gifts: Give her a gift card to her favorite store, or flowers--fresh cut or to plant in the yard (paying attention to the color and type of flower may be helpful)
  4. Words of Affirmation: The card journal idea listed above
  5. Acts of Service: Breakfast in bed, no dishes for a day, make her (and the kids) dinner, let her sleep in

Side note for moms reading this: It’s okay to tell your husband, “Honey, I like this idea. Will you please start this?” about this or anything else that really strikes you. Most husbands want to love you well, they just don’t always know how. It’s okay to give them some kind, well-intentioned guidance! Remember, we are not only helping our husbands to love us well, we are training the next generation!

Posted on May 4, 2016 and filed under Building Your Family.