It is no secret that we have become a nation addicted to technology. We carry a screen with us everywhere we go, loving the convenience of information, finances, weather reports, news and entertainment, all available at the touch of a button. Having access to such fast technology has certainly changed the way we work and play; however, we are noticing more and more that our interactions with others are beginning to suffer. When was the last time you had a heart to heart with your loved one or children without one of you, diverting your eyes back to a screen? Your answer may come as a surprise to you if you are really honest with yourself.

In order to bring back the ‘presence’ to our relationships, we need to learn to disconnect to reconnect. To shut off our phones and our tablets and to remember what it is like to really give someone your undivided attention. It feels good to be the focus of someone’s gaze, of their thought processes, of their sharing – and so, we should offer the same kindness to those that mean the most to us.

Follow these achievable, simple guidelines to draw boundaries around the use of technology in your home, to avoid it having a detrimental impact on your relationships.

No screens at the table – We spend such a large amount of our time meal planning, shopping and preparing healthy and delicious meals for our families, but more often than not, the dining table is silent or the ceremony is abandoned for easy meals in front of the television. By eliminating screen time at the table, you are able to encourage daily conversation with your mate and your kids, listening to what is happening in each other’s lives and what their goals for the week are. Ask lots of questions, listen without interrupting and allow everyone at the table an opportunity to feel heard and important – you might be surprised at how much you come to value this time each day.

No work emails after 8pm – It is easy to become enveloped in work. The daily grind, the pressure of targets and around-the-clock communication; it appears more and more professionals are expected to be contactable at all hours of the day. The problem with this is that the boundaries between your work life and your home life become terribly blurred, leaving you thinking about your to-do list instead of engaging in valuable, quality conversations and interactions with the people who have missed you all day. By turning your emails off after 8pm, you can really ‘switch off’ your brain, and enjoy the sanctuary of your home with the people you love. The emails will still be there in the morning, and you’ll be more than prepared to get to them when you arrive at the office.

No phones in bed – Smart phones have undoubtedly become an extension of ourselves, we take them out to lunch, to the bathroom, and even to bed. And while they are a convenient platform to keep up-to-date with news or friends and family, they are detrimental to your health, your eyesight, the quality of your sleep and your relationship once they make their way into your bed at night. Do yourself a favour and leave your screen at the door (a simple alarm clock can take your phones place) and you’ll demonstrate to your partner that you find their company much more entertaining than your phone!

Screen-free days – Encourage your family to indulge in entire screen-free days. Switch off your devices and leave them at home while you go out and immerse yourself in nature – a hike, a camping trip, a bike ride, etc. You’ll have an absolute blast, you’ll be able to soak up some sunshine and get some light exercise, and you’ll be creating memories you’ll keep forever (and no, I’m not talking about the ones that pop up on Facebook!).

While technology has made screen time a daily occurrence for most of us, it is crucial that we keep strict boundaries set up to ensure that our relationships and interactions don’t suffer at the hands of our iPhones. Give these simple tips a try, if only for a month, and you’ll begin to see and feel drastic changes in the quality of your relationships.

I would love to hear how you go and if you have found this information useful, please share with others or why not come along to one of my webinars where I share even more tips to build strong, lasting relationships.  Alternatively, I provide online coaching for those that prefer to learn at their own pace.