Recently I observed (not that I did not in the past), often when family is having a meal together, no one is on the table with each other, but on the phones, without someone, something else.
Few months back we went to an Italian restaurant for dinner, the place was fully booked. So can expect over capacity. When we were there, I noticed most families and couples were not talking to each other, but spending time on the phones. I could spy, Instagram, WeChat, WhatsApp etc.
Since that time, our twins did not have a phone (yes, we recently added the phones into their lives), so they were busy talking to us, as well as speaking to the Italian chef, whom impressed with our kids knowledge of Italy, after our trip to Italy.
I think when human interact with each other, there is a chemistry flowing around. We build the bonding, session to know about each other as well as to make fun on each other.
Just like when we have casual meals with our clients, we do not take out our phones, in fact I noticed most of our clients, do not even move their phones out from their pockets or bags during the meals. More so, not to take pictures of the food (LOL, I do that sometime).
As parents, I know it is easy to have your kids to be on their own, let them do something so they do not bother you during meals, or you are having dinner or lunch with family (like family gathering). I once passed the electronic devices to our twins during meal times. Then I felt the guilt. So our twins when they were small, we have them packed books they like to read, games (drawing, puzzle etc) they like, as well as cards to play (now they are pretty good with cards).
For Inez, we occupied her with books, now she is into magazines and newspapers.
Twins are heavy consumer of BusinessWeek, which Retna and I subscribed. We often have to warn them not to bring the magazines into their room, because it would end up in their school bags, school. Our kids love to read. The only problem with that good habit, the space to store the books, so we go with library options.
Twins are in new school now, they are heavy borrowers of books, newspapers and magazines in their school library.
Daughter loves to hang out at the school reading corners, where the older books (donated by someone) stored. She also got her friends to exchange books with her, which I think it is a good way to encourage reading.
So coming back to with your kids.
There are really many things you can do, when you are having a meal with your kids.
- Talk about you day, theirs etc. Find out about schools, who is the class monitor, who is the good teacher, who you like in your class etc. Tell them about your work day, what you faced, what you have learn etc.
- I spy is a great game to play while waiting for the food to be served (eat out), as the restaurant would have so many things, which you could spy on in the game. It is also a great game to remove your mind from whatever state it was earlier.
- Recently we thought of new games. Guess car brands, models. Start from A, all the way to Z. Besides car brands, models, you can play make up brands, vegetable names etc. Often we reached M, and the food came.
- Countries, states, famous places. Ok, tell me capitals of countries start with A, then B etc. Trust me, you will have lots of fun, because you will sure to forget to mention some.
- Doodle. I like some places we have been, just not very conducive to talk. So we got our kids to doodle. We once were at Starbucks at night, because could not sleep and it was a long weekend. We brought 2 pens, and had everyone to doodle on just 1 piece of Starbucks napkin. Must be creative.
Share with me what else you would do when you are having meals with your kids, parents etc.