We want to be close to our family members.
We want our family to be deeply connected.
Yet, we struggle to find the time to be together.
We say we want a close, connected family yet we race around feeding our kids on the run, or we’re too exhausted to gather our people around the table for meals together.
What if I told you one thing that experts say strengthens kids and families the most, is gathering around the table for family dinner? Would that entice you to try and do it more this year?
The one thing our kids need from us, whether they are toddlers or teens, is purposeful time gathered around the family table talking regularly.
I wrote in my book Parent on Purpose, that research links regular family dinners to better academic performance, higher self-esteem and a greater sense of resilience as well as lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression.
So, how can we be more purposeful about gathering our people around the table and get them communicating with one another?
We need to invest in playful products made for intentionally strengthening conversation and communication between family members, such as Togather.
Togather founder Jennifer Zumbiel created her line of conversation starter sticker books because she knew something had to be done to help communication within families and she knew the answer lied at the dinner table because it’s where you have a captive audience.
Reframe Dinnertime as Family Playtime
I am a big fan of conversation starter products and have them on every table in our home, yet Togather is unique that it is a book made up of stickers (105 to be exact) instead of cards. Zumbiel wanted to offer families a solution and get people to talk, but she didn’t want to recreate a conversation card deck like what has been done before.
“The obvious choice was to make cards; however, my family gets very annoyed playing games where you choose the same card time after time. It’s boring, and it automatically brings with it a sense of defense that you don’t want to play because you’re annoyed that it’s going to be the “same old” thing,” said Zumbiel.
Our family loved the section titled ‘Home Inspection’. Our youngest had fun reading the book to everyone and then passing out stickers that he chose for each one of us to read. Peeling a sticker sends the direct message that “this is mine, it’s unique, and we haven’t ever asked this question before. Besides, the stickers make the kids want to engage in the fun.
The kids had a good time going around the house together and counting the number of rugs and trash cans to confirm who was closest to the right answer. I can’t say our family has ever done that before!
Togather was purposely designed to be compact so parents can easily bring it with to restaurants or wherever they may go too. We like to travel with our Left, Center, Right game too!
The Togather stickers were intentionally made as irregular circles representing the uniqueness of each family member at the table. Zumbiel deliberately put a lot of stickers in the book, so that they would last a long time. “I also made each sticker so that it leads to a lot of conversation, and you can use just one round on one meal. So your family of six may go through just six stickers in one meal which leaves 99 more,” she said.