The fuller the house becomes the less often families have meaningful conversation, or so it may seem. Conversation becomes quick one liners, or dialogue is exchanged without the complete attention of the other. Days are filled. Children have homework, and parents are exhausted. We want to hear about each other’s day, but we also need to dive into rich, deep, and meaningful conversation. Honestly, who has time for that? You do! We all have twenty-four hours, and that is the same time as the inspiring, wealthy, hard-working, successful people you read about and admire. It really becomes less about how much time we have, and more about what we do with the time we have. Let’s begin with 5 simple house rules that will have you well on your way to having more meaningful conversations with you family.
Put The Phone Away
Okay. You are probably tired of reading this from me, but I truly believe it is something we all deal with everyday, including me. Did you know that a person is more likely to own a mobile phone than a toothbrush? I know. That sounds impossible, but research shows it may be true. Many own a mobile phone, and we can all relate to the struggle of how hard it is to put our phones away or at least on airplane mode. Putting your phone away helps eliminate the largest distraction in your home. I love what some Chickfila restaurants have adopted. They now have a Cell Phone Coop at each table where families can leave their devices. If your device stays in the coop throughout your meal you receive a free ice cream. This is a restaurant that understands the importance of families needing to have meaningful conversation. Eliminate the distraction, and put your phone away.
Turn Off The Television
Turning off the television is not as difficult as it used to be for me and my family. Several years ago we adopted Netflix and bid adieu to cable. We found that the price for cable compared to the amount of time we actually spent watching television was not worth our money. Our DVR was so full, it would take a lifetime to get through all the shows. Okay. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point. Luckily, we have luxuries like Netflix, Hulu, and DVR to record our favorite shows and playback later. Twenty years ago you would just miss the show if you were not home. With these resources it should be much more easy to turn off the TV.
Get Some Sleep
Have you ever tried having conversation late a night and you were so tired your eyes were rolling back in your head? Before long you are saying weird things like, “I would love to go see the latest Nicholas Sparks movie.” Seriously, be careful. You can agree to some strange stuff in an extreme state of exhaustion. Sometimes your lack of sleep may make you irritable, and that does nothing for your conversation mojo. Get some sleep, and create some margin to have that conversation tomorrow. This leads to the next rule.
Make A Plan
This is something my wife and I were good at individually. She is especially good at this. However, when our little girl came along our planning took a turn. Intentional family planning became all the more important. Date night used to be easy. Now it has to be scheduled. Everything goes on the calendar. It may seem ridiculous, but if you want to be intentional in having meaningful conversation you may have to plan for that moment. I discuss this more in my Intentional Dad Toolkit.
Take It To The Table
I have saved the best for last. Take it to the table. In our fast-paced, busy lives we live in restaurants and vehicles. Be intentional in planning time to enjoy a meal together in your home. Do this regularly. Schedule one day, three days, or five days a week to sit around the table. Make it a part of your routine. Plan meals in advance to help with the prep time. You can even have a meal delivered. The point is to sit around a table free of distractions. Ask everyone about their day and see where the conversation leads. This will build intimacy and trust. Your relationships with your children and spouse will strengthen. That is the power of meaningful conversation.
Join the movement. Be intentional. I hope these five house rules help guide you to having more meaningful conversations in your home.
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