When my oldest was a baby, he was enthralled by the different ringtones on my phone. For some reason, whenever he was on the cusp of a breakdown, or right in the middle of one, those sounds blasting from my phone would knock the sadness right out of him and he'd be in a trance. A very quiet trance.
I couldn't wait for the day when I could hand him my phone and he could access the ringtones over and over by himself so I wouldn't have to keep doing it for him. When he could finally operate my device by himself, I was thankful. I'm sure everyone else who was seated next to me in a restaurant or in line next to me in the grocery store was thankful as well. (Yes, I turned the volume way down.)
Did I use my phone as a way to occupy him so I could cook, clean and talk on the landline? Hell yes, and I've never had any regrets about that. Sometimes his toys, games and books did it for him, and sometimes they didn't.
As he got older, "Angry Birds" was my go-to for him and saved my patience while waiting at the doctor's office or when I wanted to take my ass around Target for a spin.
Now my kids are all teenagers, and you bet I still use the phone as a way to get things done now that I work full-time from home. Since they are now old enough to sit in the car while I run into the grocery store, I always make sure they take their phone along whenever we go anywhere.
And bribing them with it? The "taking-away of screen time" threat works just as well now that I have chores for them to complete as it did when I was trying to get them to finish dinner or behave while I was picking up their older brother or sister at school and needed them to stay calm.
Knowing our kids are going to be safe, occupied and not bother us so we can be productive is priceless.
Our parents used things like candy, special books or TV shows to get us to behave. I specifically remember my mom letting us watch the same movie three times in a row when I was young so she could get the house clean and chat it up on the phone. All she had to do was press rewind and it was guaranteed our butts would be in the same spot as long as there was a TV in our face.
Times have changed, but the game is still the same: Parents need to get stuff done and the phone or iPad is great insurance. Knowing our kids are going to be safe, occupied and not bother us so we can be productive is priceless.
I'm pretty sure any adult giving you side-eye when they see your child's head in a device while you're trying to blaze through Costco, or watch your son's first basketball game without hearing how bored your other children are, has never been in a situation where they've experience the peace that comes from device-giving.
Either that or they never had kids and literally don't know how maddening it is when you are trying to catch up with your bestie over lunch and get interrupted 10,000 times. I gave my kids the phone as soon as I could. I literally don't give a speck of shit, and I still don't. I have zero regrets and I'm a better mother for it.
Maybe my kids' childhood memories will be peppered with memories of too much screen time, but it will also include a happier mother because she was able to finish a conversation and get the vacuuming done in one swoop.
And that, to me, is 100 percent worth it.