"We do our best to keep them quiet and occupied, but nothing is working. It’s time for the tablet."

By Matthew McCafferty
Courtesy of Matthew McCafferty

It’s our ninth wedding anniversary. My wife and I don’t have a babysitter for the night, so we decide to make the best of it and go out to dinner with our daughters, 4 and 2. We know it will not be picture-perfect romantic, but we hope for a nice night out as a family.

We choose a quiet, laid-back restaurant just a few miles from our house. There are several other couples enjoying their meals as we are seated. For my wife and me, this means we need to limit the loud disruptions that two small kids often create. Of course, that’s easier said than done.

After about ten minutes, my older girl, Claire, is walking around, pretending to be a waitress. My younger daughter, Natalie, is crying to get up to dance to her favorite song. We do our best to keep them quiet and occupied, but nothing is working. It’s time for the tablet.

The parent I thought I’d be before I had kids would always comment, “My kids will never be glued to a tablet when they are at a restaurant. They can sit quietly and color with their crayons just like we did when we were kids.”

But the parent I am today understands that I need a little help to keep my kids well behaved at a restaurant. This doesn’t mean I condone the use of a tablet at all times. We have limits on TV and tablet time. We also don’t allow the tablet at the dinner table at home. But for the rare occasions when we go out to eat, it’s a modern tool that all parents should be able to use without judgment.

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