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My Kids Use a Tablet at Restaurants and I Don't Feel Guilty

Something that my husband and I really enjoy doing is going out for dinner. I know some couples get really adventurous and fun with their date nights and go laser tag or go-karting or to museums or plays, but not us. We like to eat. And we like finding new restaurants to try. There's also the fact that I don't like cooking (nor am I any good at it). My husband actually does enjoy cooking, but at the end of the day we would rather sit and chat while someone else puts in the work.

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When our son was born we were still able to enjoy going to restaurants with him in tow. Usually he would just sleep through the entire outing. But then he got older and soon we were joined by our daughter. We still wanted to go out to eat but it wasn't always possible to get a sitter. We had several very frustrating trips to restaurants with loud rambunctious children. We would spend most of the night telling someone to sit down, stop screaming, and not make a mess. The kids would get bored and we would be asking for the check and high-tailing it out of there before much time had passed. It was definitely not an enjoyable experience.

I felt guilty, like maybe we were bad parents. But I was also desperate for some peace and quiet, and a good hot meal.

I was the first one to suggest it, "Why don't we just let them play on our phones?" I was a little sheepish about it because we didn't want to be that family. The one with zombie-like children that stare at a glowing screen the whole night. I felt guilty, like maybe we were bad parents. But I was also desperate for some peace and quiet, and a good hot meal.

My husband was a little resistant to the idea, but I was able to convince him of the benefits right away. And it's definitely like magic. They sit there and watch their PBS Kids shows and silently eat their food while my husband and I happily converse about life without interruption. Now we never go to a restaurant with our kids without our phones or a tablet ready to entertain them. Okay, sometimes we visit loud kid-friendly restaurants in which my children are free to run around like the crazies that they are, but for the most part, it's all about the tablet.

I was recently listening to a podcast in which the mother of four boys (four boys!) was saying that they used to always use tablets at restaurants as well, but now that their kids are a little older it's easier to go out to eat and have the kids participate without the use of technology. That really made me feel better and I breathed a sigh of relief. This stage is not forever. There will come a time in which my kids will be able to sit in a restaurant and talk and eat and we will all have a great time. This is only a season.

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So until that time comes, I'm not going to feel guilty about my use of phones and tablets to entertain my kids at the restaurant dinner table. I'll just see it as an opportunity for my husband and I to get a nice quiet date night, even if we have to bring the kids along.

Image via Kristel Acevedo

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