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Give the present of presence this Mother's Day

"Nearly one third of Canadians say that sharing a meal together is the most meaningful Mother's Day gift you can give your mom," said OpenTable's Chief Dining Officer, Caroline Potter.
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This Mother's Day, show your mom love and appreciation by giving her the gift she really wants -- your undivided attention. 

OpenTable, a leading provider of online restaurant reservations which is found in more than 51,000 restaurants around the world, has recently launched a new campaign called #DiningMode. It is a challenge for people to put their phones away while sitting down for their Mother's Day meal, to focus on their mom, get to know her better and be completely present in the moment.

OpenTable's Chief Dining Officer, Caroline Potter said the idea behind the campaign could extend beyond just Mother's Day as well.

"You should always have that #DiningMode state of mind," said Potter. "We just did a survey and 76 per cent of respondents said that they believe that Mother's Day is the number one day you should avoid using your telephone. That transcends Mother's Day, on a certain level, because we've had 25 per cent of people tell us that they've avoided eating with people who overuse their phones." 

A survey by OpenTable revealed that, out of 1,000 people, 74 per cent of adults check their phone at least once while dining out and 41 per cent still get scolded by their moms about it.

"It's a pervasive problem and it's hard to avoid," explained Potter. "I find myself doing it -- my husband says I'm always on my phone. I've been chastised by bartenders for having this beautiful spread in front of me and my husband and then I'm looking down at my phone and, could anything be more important than being present in the moment for a dining companions? And also enjoying all this beautiful food that restaurateurs and bartenders have put out for us."  

The organization also found that 82 per cent of diners have been annoyed by their dining companion's phone use in the past and 69 per cent of respondents at least somewhat agree that they feel they use their phone too much.

"I think the thing that you are seeing around the dinner table at home and around the dining table in restaurants is that often times it's not just the adults, but the kids are on their devices," said Potter. "That's sometimes a survival technique to get through the meal. I think on a day like Mother's Day or a special occasion, when you're with those people that you haven't seen, it's great to just try and be engaged with them."

To help promote discussion and getting to know your mom better, OpenTable has conversation starters on their website that are available to download. They feature deep questions, such as, "If you could live out one movie plot, what would it be an why?" There are also more lighthearted questions like, "If you could have one superpower, what would it be?"

"It's interesting because they are questions that you may not think to ask even of yourself. You could get to know new things about you son, your daughter, your mom, your dad," Potter explained. "Maybe we all know our family's pet peeves, but maybe not. Those things are there to help people because we're so used to being with our phones when we're dining out and through everyday. It can be awkward to suspend that kind of behaviour and really try and engage with your dining companion."

To participate in the #DiningMode challenge, when you're dining out on Mother's Day, just go to the restaurant and put your phone away while you're at the table. Opentable will be doing a giveaway, with participants eligible to win a $400 gift card. To have a chance to win, post a picture on Instagram of the mom in your life that you're going to be spending Mother's Day and #DiningMode with.  

Select restaurants are also encouraging people to go into #DiningMode and be present by offering some perks of a free flower for mom, a free desert or a complimentary glass of champaign.

Roughly 70 restaurants across Canada are participating in #DiningMode, two of which are in Ottawa; the Mongolian Village Grill West in Nepean and Grill 41 on Elgin Street. 

"Nearly one third of Canadians say that sharing a meal together is the most meaningful Mother's Day gift you can give your mom," said Potter. "In other words; your presence is the present when you're dining out with her as well." 


About the Author: Taylor Millage

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