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.
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.