Having a Ball at Dinner!

How ditching our dining room chairs in favor of fitness balls has impacted our dining dynamics.

As much as I love living in Old Town Alexandria, some days I find myself feeling especially cramped in our little house. Our dining room is particularly tight, with just enough room for a table that seats six. But with the chairs, there is not enough room to maneuver around the table. So, we made the radical decision a couple of weeks ago to ditch the dining room chairs and replace them with fitness balls.

The change was inspired by my oldest child’s second grade class from a couple of years back – their chairs had been replaced with fitness balls. They started with just a couple in the classroom and with the help of a parent, were able to have fitness balls donated for the rest of the class. The switch had such an impact, the class was featured on the local evening news. The fitness balls were so effective in helping my daughter manage her energy during long days of sitting with only a short recess break, that she began using one at her desk at home to manage energy while doing homework.

We have been struggling with the dining room chair issue for a while and have been researching alternatives in recent weeks. When I came across fitness balls on clearance a couple of weeks ago, I gave my husband a call and asked him to keep an open mind as I shared the idea. He was instantly on board. If it did not work out, we could always donate the fitness balls.

So, we put the chairs down in the crawl space, which had just been cleared out as part of the massive purging process we have underway, pumped up the balls, and rolled them over to the table for dinner.

Things have been rolling along rather smoothly. We adopted some of the rules that had been used in my daughter’s classroom: keep feet on the floor (if they can reach), bottom on the ball, etc. We have had to create contraptions to keep the balls in place when not in use. And, of course, the balls need to be re-inflated every so often. Fortunately, at the least for the time being, our oldest is eager to do this task!

Using the fitness balls at the dining room table has not only helped to address our space issue, it has also increased my awareness of my physical body. Eating breakfast while sitting on a fitness ball is a much gentler way to start the day. At dinner, I find myself sitting up a little straighter and occasionally even find myself softly bouncing a bit as the meal winds down. The kids are able to channel their energy, though it can be a challenge for them not to roll or bounce excessively. This seems to be improving as the noveltiy wears off.

If you were to swing by for a visit or meal, we would have you covered. We keep a spare ball inflated for guests and have regular four-legged hardwoods for those who prefer them.

I dare say, we have indeed been having a ball at dinner!

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