Dinner can sometimes be the only part of day when a family can sit down and have quality time together. Everyone is busy – you are running errands all day and working, dad is constantly answering emails and the kids are catching up on homework and sport after school. Finding time each day to spend together as a family is vital, but that time is quickly being overrun by phones.
Getting everyone to set their phones down during dinner time to actually talk is pretty difficult. Everyone has a reason to be on their phone and everyone feels like their reason is more important than the next. Time can pass so quickly when scrolling through a newsfeed on a phone, rather get everyone to sit together, screen free, over dinner and talk about the news, each other’s day, and anything that comes up. Just talking at dinner can bond you as a family more, and teach your kids that they can actually have a little bit of fun without a phone.
Kids are getting phones younger and younger as time goes by. There are a few reasons – kid’s need phones for safety, if something happens you want to know your kid can call you straight away, and they feel like they need to fit in with all the other kids with phones around them. Whatever the reason, you can’t find out anything new in your kids life or if anything is worrying them if their nose is always stuck in a social media platform on their phone. By engaging in conversation over dinner, you can keep up to date with everything that is going on in their life, and hopefully catch any issues if there are any.
As a family, you need to commit to a phone free dinner time. And this means everyone – mom and dad as well. Putting down phones before sitting at the dinner table should become mandatory, and hopefully habit. Not only does it give everyone the freedom to talk, but it teaches them to actually listen (which is a learned skill) and improves their table manners. It is a practice they can hopefully carry around with them to other dinner tables. Not only should phones be put away, but they should be on silent as well. Nothing is more tempting and distracting than a beeping notification. In order to have everyone at full attention, phones should be on silent and out of sight.
Phones have worked themselves into our natural, habitual routines. We check our phones even when we know there is nothing to check, and half the time don’t even realise that we have done so. Putting phones away, and properly away and out of sight, will help break this habit. It will also show the kids, and sometimes even the parents, that you don’t actually have to check your phone constantly, and you can most definitely survive without doing so.
Phones are usually the main culprits, but there is another distraction lurking in the background – the television. Even if nobody is actively watching anything on TV, one can easily become distracted by the noise or stare blankly into the screen. The TV should be switched off during dinner time. If the phone is put away, you might have more stubborn family members who will easily switch across to a TV distraction – don’t let it happen!
In a world where social interaction happens mainly over devices such as phones, strive to keep your family old school. Put the phones away and switch off any other devices in order to spend good, old fashion quality time together. Ask about each other’s day, offer up some motherly advice and just have a decent family chat. Setting these practices into everyday life young will help your children appreciate the importance of family time, and having actual conversation with those in your household.
Dinnertimes can be the perfect opportunity to keep up to date with your family, and hopefully they will carry the lesson with them throughout life. Family is much more important than a newsfeed on a social website, and a phone screen won’t replace the memories and stories you will share sitting at the dinner table with those you love dearest.