This is the day and age that families are busier than ever. The pressure to do and have it all is overwhelming. This makes regular dinners together difficult for many families. So, are family dinners dead?
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Last month, I surprised the kids with a dinner out. Anyone paying off debt knows that these are pretty much non-existent events so it was a big deal for us.
While we waited for our food, I noticed that the table behind us. Everyone at this table was on an electronic device, from the toddler to the parents. They weren’t looking at or engaging with one another at all. It was a little disheartening, but I turned my attention back to my own family.
When our dinner came, I noticed that the table behind us had also gotten their food. And yet, every single one of them was still buried in an electronic device while they ate. 4 children and what I assume was 2 parents, totally disconnected from each other.
Even if this situation was totally misread by me, it gets at the heart of a real issue in our society. We are more disengaged than ever, even from our own families.
If you find your family has fallen into these bad habits, too, I have some tips to help you break them.
No Devices at the Table
First and foremost, start the rule right now that there are no electronic devices of any kind at the table during meals. This goes for at home and when you’re out.
This has always been the rule at our house so we don’t even think about it. In fact, we don’t even let the kids bring toys to the table during meals (with the exception of the coloring sheets at restaurants).
Leave Your Phone
If you find yourself or your family struggling to stay off your phone during meals, put it in another room (or leave it in the car) during the meal. We survived without these devices glued to our hands for millennia. I promise you we can continue to do so for the hour or less that it takes to complete a meal.
Get Some Conversation Cards
Once you’ve been in the habit of staring at your devices it is hard to know how to interact without them. Make it as easy on your family as possible with conversation cards. These prompts get your family laughing and talking instead of twiddling forks. Grab my free printable snack time conversation cards or pick up this Table Topics Family set!
Make Weekend Meals a Priority
Like I said, I totally get how difficult it is to have regular meals as a family with a crazy schedule. Instead of giving up completely, make breakfasts or lunches together on the weekend a priority for your family. Even 1 to 2 meals a week brings your family closer and makes you stronger.
I get that it is hard with practices, clubs, work, and the myriad of other obligations in our lives to sit down as a family and have dinner. But doesn’t that make these meals out even more important? If you can’t put down the games or social media for even an hour at a restaurant, there is a bigger issue.
You see it everywhere. Parents at their kids sporting events who don’t look up from their phones. Teenagers at the park texting instead of being active. Even toddlers run around with tablets instead of exploring their surroundings. It breaks my heart.
So are family dinners dead? They may not be dead, but they are definitely endangered. Let’s make them a priority again. Find a way to make them happen weekly at the least and build up your family. Disconnect from the “reality” you see on social media and focus on what matters. Both you and your family will be better for it.
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