The family meal is an important tradition for us.
It was always super important to my parents when I was growing up and, while I’m not as great at it as they were (my Dudes are more active than my brother and I were and my parents’ work schedule was different than my husband’s), we make it a priority to do it as much as we can with The Dudes.
One thing my parents didn’t have to deal with was electronics –there were no cell phones to distract us in the 80s and 90s and we didn’t even have much TV to watch.
Now that we have all of these electronic distractions, we allow our kids to enjoy them, just not at the table. We have never let them use their devices at the table. Whether we are out to dinner at a restaurant or sitting at our table or counter at home, we have a no electronics rule that we never break.
It’s the least we can do to keep our relationship strong when we are so on the go when the school/sports seasons get up and going. We use our time at the table to connect with the kids. DudeDad calls it dinner conversation and The Dudes look forward to it each night, saving up things like catching a bomb on the football field, scoring a left footed goal, and getting 100% on a math test to tell him.
I feel like I learn so much about them when we sit down, make eye contact, and listen to their words. And, according to research, it makes them more awesome people (family meals help inspire higher grade-point averages, resilience and self-esteem. Additionally, family meals are linked to lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, eating disorders and depression.), a life goal I have for each of my offspring.
We aren’t the only ones who appreciate the importance of family dinner time.
Boston Market, dinner time specialists, and well known pro athlete and mom, Lisa Leslie are huge proponents of unplugged meal times too. That’s why we are partnering with them on this sponsored post to encourage you to join their Logout Look Up Campaign.
We hope that you will take the #LogOutLookUp Challenge with us and commit to making the dinner table a device free, meaningful conversation zone for your family.
As a business owner and busy mom to teens and tweens, I know what a challenge this is. I feel the pull of letting the just watch a movie on Netflix or text their friends so that I can get one more thing done, or just not listen to them bickering over who got the biggest slice of chicken.
But then, I would miss out on this awesome (it’s really our only hope of ever getting a photo that we are all in)…
So we make it happen. Here’s how…
5 Tips For Making Your Family Meal Meaningful
1. Don’t allow mobile devices at the table. Regardless of the meal time or the location, set the rule that the table is NOT a place that devices are allowed. And yes, that means your baby and/or toddler too. I know it’s an easy solution for a fussy youngster, but if you plan ahead (pack a bag of fun distractions for while they wait for their food), ad eliminate the opportunity (shove your phone to the bottom of your purse and tell them you forgot it!) they will eventually get used to it!
2. Turn off the TV too. Even if you’re all together, if you’re in front of a TV it will get in the way of having meaningful conversations.
3. Don’t get caught up on the meal time. We can’t always be together for dinner. Sometimes it’s breakfast, sometimes it’s lunch, sometimes it’s a 2pm trip to Baskin Robbins for ice cream cones. What’s important is that you make time to do as many meals as possible together, as a family, around a table, without electronics to distract you.
4. Make it fun. Dinner conversation is not the best time to attack your child about his missing math assignments. You want the meal time conversations to be enjoyable and memorable experiences they want to repeat daily. So ask fun questions or play a game. We play a game we call Who Would Win where they pit creatures/people, super or not, against each other and discuss who would win in a battle. For example, who would win? Rocket the Raccoon or Ant Man? (Note the lack of respect they have for Ant Man.)
5. Get the kids involved in cooking. Meal time doesn’t have to start at the table. This summer we’ve done a lot of cooking together with The Dudes. They take turns helping me prepare dinner and they are always so proud of their creations.
To inspire your family dinner adventures, I am giving away two $100 gift cards to Boston Market. Enter below and happy dinning!
*Disclosure: This blog post is part of a sponsored series with Boston Market. All opinions, great ideas, cute kids, and family meal sessions are my own.