Monday, October 10, 2016

Tech Free Family Dinners Focused on Gratitude

The Dunphy's on Modern Family Source
My wife and I make it a priority to eat together as a family as often as possible. As our four children have grown older and become more involved in activities and sports, this has certainly gotten more difficult, and some evenings is not even possible. My high school daughter plays volleyball and both of our boys are on the middle school cross country team that I coach. Sometimes meals are quick or rushed, and other times some of us won't even see each other awake on a given evening. But most of the time, we do make this work out. 

TV Dinner Source
Unlike Modern Family, the dinner table has always been a technology free zone in our household. We don't allow phones to be used at the table and don't watch TV while we eat. Perhaps this habit was started in my childhood; I grew up without a television visible from the kitchen table. My parents set limits on entertainment screen time long before personal screens and devices were available. Occasionally we would buy a TV Dinner and use a TV tray to eat a meal in front of the TV (remember those?), but it seems like that was less than a handful of times in my childhood. 
The Eisenmann's 21 Days of Gratitude (blurred on purpose)
Over the years we haven't had issues finding things to talk about at dinner. However, recently we changed the focus of our conversation for the better. After attending an Orange Frog workshop on positivity and happiness, I took on a 21 day challenge to daily list three things for which I am thankful. I decided to try this with everyone in my family, so on a sheet of paper each day at dinner we took turns listing three things we were thankful for and explaining why, which often resulted in more details about each person's day. 

Initially there were some groans about the process, of course, and we had to set some guidelines in place to help everyone seriously reflect and report. But by focusing on gratitudes, the overall feeling of our meals together has become more positive and encouraging. There are certainly times when discussions are about someone's bad day or a problem, but by and large we are spending more time recognizing and highlighting positives. I encourage you to have tech free dinners, try your own 21 days of gratitude challenge and see for yourself! 

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