Weeks seem to fly by in a flurry of activity that includes preparing the kids for school days and activities, the rush and stress of work commutes or simply keeping the household ticking over. Taking these factors into account it is hardly surprising that most families enjoy a meal together less than 5 times a week. Modern connectivity requires that we stay in contact at all times, and studies reveal that around one-third of those at the dinner table are actively scrolling during the meal.
Avoiding the use of devices at the dining table not only allows family members to enjoy conversation but is essential in allowing them to share information on their activities and concerns. Avoiding the use of devices at the table can also have a variety of mental and physical benefits. Here are just some of those.
1. A Phone Free Dinner makes you Happier
The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology conducted a study indicating that the use of phones during mealtime led diners to feel distracted and did not enjoy the valuable time spent with family and friends as much as those who avoided device use during mealtimes.
2. Kids Enjoy Health Benefits from Family Dinners
Family dinners can be extremely enjoyable while they are underway, however, there are a myriad of long-term health benefits for children seated at the table. A study by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (Columbia University) revealed that children who take part in family dinners at least five times a week are less inclined to use drugs. They also tend to make healthier nutritional choices – and excel in the classroom.
3. Dining Together Strengthens Family Bonds
Children who regularly eat with the family say that they feel a closer bond with their parents. Dinnertime is the perfect opportunity to create memories that are positive – this encourages children to feel more comfortable in their own homes – and also enables them to express themselves and reduce the impact of issues that can lead to interpersonal stress among family members. Make a point to continue throughout the summer months with fabulous outdoor furniture.
Taking the above into account leads one to the conclusion that device-free family dinners can be of enormous psychological and physical benefit. It encourages people to eat better, children to improve their learning and also get out and about to enjoy themselves. However, breaking that cycle of minimal numbers of device-free family dinners can prove challenging. Blow find three tips on how to kick-start the conversation during these family dinners.
1. Stay away from open-ended questions
Psychologist Eileen Kennedy-Moore states that questions such as ‘how was your day?’ or ‘How was school’ often lead to conversation-limiting responses such ‘as OK’ or ‘fine’. Keep questions specific ‘What did you do during break?’ or ‘What new projects do you have to complete?’. These sorts of questions require elaborate answers – and can fuel further conversation.
2. Get the Entire Family Involved in Meal Prep and Planning
Enlisting the help of the kids in planning and in preparation of the meal creates excitement and encourages them to look forward to family meal time. Spending time cooking also stimulates conversation that can carry over to the dinner table – and it also encourages the kids to learn new skills.
3. Keep your Expectations in Check
Not every meal has to be a white tablecloth and silverware experience. Or involve a three-course meal. Spending as little as 20 minutes with the family is the aim – that time offers far more value than the most complex and elaborate of meals.
Each family should set aside the time to enjoy as many meals together as possible. However, in these times of increased fiscal pressures, this is not always possible.