Phone Free Family Dinner


Last Sunday Russ and I instituted a new family dinner policy – no phones in the dining room. I asked everyone to park their phones on the kitchen windowsill and leave them until dinner was over. There was a little bit of nervous laughter, but everyone complied.  Yes, there are 11 phones and one ipod in that picture; Andrew even parked his Kindle.

Sunday dinner is a highlight of my week, even if the days are crazy and I’m not sure what I’ll put on the table. I try to make it a good meal, and we nearly always have a yummy dessert. When time allows, we set the table with special dishes, flowers, and candles; I love a pretty table.


Sunday dinner is the one time in  the week when we count on seeing our big kids who don’t live at home but live in town. Hannah and Isaiah are always missed. Katie’s sister, Molly, recently moved to Moscow and has joined our numbers. During the school year, my nephew, Caleb, joins us and sometimes the kids bring friends.

The best part about the meal is catching up with everyone’s lives, and it’s much easier to do when nobody is looking at a screen or sending one quick text. The older crew is growing up so fast; some days it takes my breath away. For heaven’s sake, Noah is getting married in less than two weeks!

It’s Monday morning and my list of things to do is a bit ridiculous. Wrapping up the school year and getting ready for a wedding at the same time makes for some crazy moments. We’re celebrating Noah’s 23rd birthday tonight which means a special dinner for him. Annarose and Katie baked his birthday cake last night, a triple layer German chocolate cake made from scratch. It will be delicious!

Question: What phone policies do you have for your family?

I hope your week is off to a great start, friends.


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Emily
    June 2, 2014

    I recently decided to put a lot more intentionality and energy this summer into being "phone free". I want my friends, family, and the kids in my life to see me looking at their faces! It's so tempting to do the "one quick text" thing, as you said, and even if that feels different to ME than playing a game or something longer, it splits attention and just is sad. I was inspired by Brene Brown's story of putting a basket by her front door for her kids' friends phones with a sign that says "Talk to the people here, they're awesome!"

    I did serious pull-back on social media for Lent and it was wonderful- no posting or checking Instagram, much fewer blogs (as you know: I already don't have a FB)… I felt like it gave me more insight into which ones are life-giving for me and which ones aren't.

    I took an idea from Tonia at and am trying one week a month to do a quasi-media fast (hers is total!). I'll repeat my Lent habits the first week of the month, to continue as a "Detox". Deleted Instagram off my phone yesterday!

    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 3, 2014

      I love the basket idea…I may implement that. I don't have a smart phone (I'm afraid to get one), but I find myself checking my computer far too much. Lately, I've been closing it and trying to leave it closed for long periods of time during the day. I find it difficult, but I know it distracts me from the kids.

  2. SarahB
    June 2, 2014

    We call it the Phone Napper Basket. Totally agree things have changed so much since my oldest came 25 years ago. Have to fight for focused family time:))) We have a full basket too.

  3. Elizabeth
    June 2, 2014

    Ha! Phone policy? We had to institute a book policy! No reading at the table (only applies to dinner, because that is when we are all here). 🙂

  4. Nancy
    June 2, 2014

    I totally agree with no phones at the dinner table. Call me old fashioned but I don't think it is necessary for anyone to constantly be "connected". And family dinner has to be held up as one of the most important times of the day. We do not even answer the house phone during dinner unless one of our kids is out driving (on their way home from work, sports etc.). With summer approaching, I am definitely considering how we will limit all screen time- especially with our youngest three.

  5. charity betts
    June 2, 2014

    we are working at just enforcing the no phone when you get home policy….it has been "the Rule" for a while, but if i'm not standing at the door, the phones go up to the bedrooms, "just to put away our books" and don't come back…I just really don't like them being constant companions…I think maybe I just need to get more strict 🙂 or buy a basket! that is an impressive line of tech you have there…ha!

  6. Angela
    June 2, 2014

    I love this!! We have been doing the same things with our kids' cell phones by setting them in a certain location after they get home from school and they just stay there! I have been trying to implement this rule with our home line during our dinner meals every evening with my husband's work calls. All I want is one evening meal together where it is uninterrupted! We have a message machine after all, yet this is a toughy for the hubby of mine!

  7. Laura
    June 2, 2014

    We have had a no technology at the table ever since the kids and we adults got cell phones. We also do not answer the land line—yes we are dinosaurs and still have one—but we can hear it and if it is an emergency we do answer it. The only exception has been it the kids had guests for dinner and it was their parents. I think we all can stand some technology free time in our lives. Caleb and I were glad to toss our phones on the window sill for one last quick bite before we headed over the mountains last Sunday!


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