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Monday, September 17, 2012

No Toys at the Table

We have a standing rule in our home: no toys at the table.  Toys, in my world, is a very broad term.  It's anything that poses as a distraction during our mealtime.  It could be a stuffed animal, toy car, or doll - but it could also be a stack of papers, pencils, scissors, etc.  And parents/teens aren't off the hook either - smartphones, iPods, iAnything ... they are all off limits at our table.

Why?  I'm so glad you asked.  Like I said, it's a distraction.  When the kids were small, distractions meant messes.  Something got spilled.  The spoon missed the mouth.  Now that the family is growing older, distractions equal disengagement: not talking because the mind is elsewhere.  Tuned out, in other words.

We use every mealtime to connect.  We do our best to stay away from yes/no questions that result in a grunt of sorts from boys.  We celebrate everyday victories.  We share high points and low points.  We share other people's successes from the day.  We make plans.  We teach etiquette.  We squeeze every bit out of mealtime we possibly can.

Is this a daily thing?  As often as it can be.  I sit at the table with my coffee with each of my children before they head out the door.  "What's special for you today?"  "What did you dream about last night?"  Lunches are at school and work.  Sometimes I send a note.  I'm famous for scrawling something on the outside of an apple or banana - usually something corny!

Football season begs the question, "what about when the game is on?"  Let me ask you this question,
How long does having
a meal together really take?
10 minutes?  15 maybe.  Longer with family or friends visiting.  Shorter with infants, toddlers, preschoolers.  Surely you can switch off the game for a few minutes to truly connect with the family.

Isn't that what the DVR is for, anyway?  Pause the show.  Click the record button.  I'm forever telling my kids that they are in charge of the TV, not the other way around.  That goes for all electronics.  It's up to me (the user) to switch off volume on my phone or computer so I'm not distracted by it.

Live committed to the moments you're in.  If you're working - be working, fully focused and productive.  If you're playing - really play, have fun, let go, stop working in your mind.  When you're with family - be there, invest in those relationships.

How do you make the most out of
mealtimes with your family?

1 comment:

  1. We have the same "no toy" rule. My kids are both preschoolers and dinner can seemingly take a LONG time. They giggle and make silly faces at one another. I love the conversation part when that happens, but a case of the sillies is often frustrating as I just want them to eat and THEN play - so I can clean the table! I do like the fact that the TV is in another room and out of view, but it is often left on and while I tune it out and tune in to my kids, my hubby doesn't always do the same. He's not a talker, so he's more content listening to the news on TV coming from the other room. Since my oldest started kindergarten I've started more of the high point of the day question, but the answer has become a broken record, so he's challenging me to find other ways to ask open ended questions. ;)