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Recapture Quality Family Dinner Time

screen balance Feb 03, 2018

Tech Tale: How does a family who loves technology manage tech-free dinners?

Nathalie is the mother of an 8 year old boy and a 13 year old girl. Her children love technology and since they do their homework and household chores with minimal yelling, Nathalie hasn't imposed any strict limits.

But Nathalie has noticed something that is really displeasing: eating out with technology. Initially when the children were younger, Nathalie and her husband would go out to dinner and in order to have a bit of quiet time so that the adults could talk, Nathalie would hand over her smartphone while her husband did the same.

Little by little the family outings became less and less family and more and more tech and Nathalie now wants to recapture the family togetherness, but she's worried that it's too late. Her kids are too used to gaming and texting while waiting for their dinners to arrive.

How can Nathalie re-create the family dinners that she remembers when she was young? (You know, the family dinners, where everyone sat around the table and actually talked and engaged and shared?)

Tech Tips:

Even though it's difficult to go back and replace bad habits with good habits, it's not impossible. With time and patience, Nathalie can get her family back and enjoy those old-fashioned dinners of yesteryear.

1.  Outright ban on tech at the table.  Put your foot down and state that no tech at the dinner table.  Including the parents.  If you can do an outright ban without a major revolt, then by all means, I've got your back.

2.  Slowly reduce tech at table.  If you are not able to do an outright ban, perhaps the kids can play until they place their orders, then all tech goes into the bag.

3.  Best part of the day.  Once the orders have been placed, you can go around the table with a variant of 'Best part of the day.'  Each family shares the best part of their day and the not so great part of the day. This inevitably leads to a bit of discussion and laughter.  If you have teens, proceed with caution.

4. Reward good behavior.  Immediate reward for no-tech is a dessert of their choice.  A long-time reward, is a little one-on-one time with you or your partner.  If those rewards are not enticing, then choose something low-budget, but still enriching of their choice.

Getting back a tech-free dinner is difficult once the cat is out of the bag.  But please do not think that creating quality family time is a new phenomenon.  In my day, it was reading the back of the cereal box when munching on cereal. Now young people want their e-readers or smartphones.  It's all about strategy, diversion and throwing in a new parental technique or two.

What works in your family?

How do you get your young people to sit and share and exchange? Tell all.  I would love to hear from you!



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