Getting Through A Meal – Updated

If you have young children, you will know that going out for a meal is never a quiet affair. A familiar sight at restaurants and food courts is now the ipad or iphone. Children will have their eyes glued to the screen while mom or dad try to shove food into their mouths. I can’t blame parents for whipping out these devices, sometimes all you want it to eat a meal in peace. For us, it is a family rule that such devices are banned from the dinner table. No one is allowed to use their phone at the table, this includes us parents of course. Meal times should be a time for the whole family to sit together and talk about the day, now that the kids are still young, I would like to cultivate this habit of sharing. Of course there are moments ( especially dinner times) that mom and dad are just exhausted and want to have an adult conversation without being interrupted. This is when I whip out my sketch pad and box of colored pencils to keep the children entertained.

*I would like to point out that the sketch pad is just to keep them busy while waiting for the food to arrive, once the food comes, everything gets kept. If we’re at a food court, where food comes almost instantly, the kids just learn to sit and wait without any toys or games. Only after they have finished their meal and are waiting for others to finish, are they allowed to doodle or play with their little toys. Usually once they are done, both kids would ask to get down from their high chairs/chairs. They are always told to sit and wait till everyone else is done, firstly I think its good for them to understand that it’s polite to wait for everyone else to finish before leaving the table, secondly I don’t want them running/playing in the food court or restaurant and disturbing everyone else. Or worse, running into someone carrying hot food and getting burned. To keep them in their seats, out come the sketch pads.

Both Ally and Max have learned to feed themselves from a very young age, Ally is fully capable of feeding herself , while Max needs a little prodding at times. He isn’t the world’s best eater and would just leave food in his mouth if you let him. By and large we let him eat on his own but there are times that we do help him along.

Max and his toys to keep him occupied

A dinosaur joined us for a meal

Does it work? Yes for now, but I foresee that the novelty won’t last forever. I plan to change my box of color pencils to markers or even crayons. I might throw in sheets of stickers and even some stamps , if I keep rotating the art supplies once I sense them getting bored, we should be alright. Max gets bored a lot quicker than Ally so I always keep a few small cars in my bag to keep him occupied. I might sew a little car playmat that I can just roll up and take along with us if I can find the time.

I have nothing against technology, in fact I am a huge Apple fan and owned a Mac long before they became popular. I just feel the dinner table isn’t the right place for it.



Filed under Ally, Max

6 responses to “Getting Through A Meal – Updated

  1. Homeschool@sg

    Just curious of your thoughts on this: what’s the difference in putting up toys instead of an iPad/iPhone on the table? I mean wether it’s toys or iPad/iPhone, the goal is the same? It’s to keep the kids entertained? So In a way, giving iPad or even toys during meals- both are equally bad? No?

    • For my kids they r very anti social once they are using the iPad. They get so engrossed in watching or playing their games hence I decided to ban it from meals.
      With the toys and coloring , it’s a lot more
      Interactive, I will draw or color or do simple spelling with Ally. With max we make up games with his trains or toy dinosaurs, they r engaging and using their imaginations rather than being passive viewers.
      How do you help sunshine boy sit through a meal ?

  2. Homeschool@sg

    I asked because Im guilty of doing both ways. Games or iPhone on the table. But I’ve been struggling ‘cos I realized both are equally bad- (though like you’ve said one’s more passive then the other but still) both distracts the kid from eating his meals proper i.e table manners. That’s why I was curious if you thought the same.

    Yet, I’ve no choice- as you know he’s a picky eater. We need ALL the distractions in the world just so he’d eat. He’s so skinny that he’s still wearing his 18mth old size pants- can you beat that?

  3. Oh i see, I can understand why you do it, when Max was being very difficult about meals, we would use anything to distract him just so that he would eat.
    We take out the games/ color pencils only to help them pass the time while waiting for the food to arrive, once the food comes, everything gets kept. I think you thought it stays out throughout the meal? Hence if we go to a food court, the kids just sit and eat their meals without anything to play with. Most of the time its in restaurants where the wait is long or if we are out with friends having a meal and we stay for a chat.

  4. Homeschool@sg

    Aaah, then that’s different. I’ve to resort to iPhone/games so that he’d eat. I get criticized ALOT for allowing that but those parents have noooo idea what we have gone through for the past 4 years & when we FINALLY found a way to get him to eat without picking, we are just not ready to rock the boat! Because of what I’ve been through I stopped judging other parents because I don’t know what they’ve been thru either! Ha!

    • I can totally understand why you do it having been through that phase with max. I use to let him watch tv as well. Then I got fed up and decided if he is hungry he will eat so back to
      No tv. When your child is a picky eater, as a parent you will do anything to try n feed them , that’s normal.
      It’s not our style to let the kids play / watch n eat but we don’t have issues with families that do. My motto has always been each parent is trying to do the best for their children and as fellow parents we shouldn’t judge them or make them feel guilty about their choices

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