We’ve all seen the memes on Facebook and beyond: “When I was a kid, parents interacted with the children when they ate out.” Parents (and non-parents, of course) are here to judge our parenting choices once again, and I’m here to tell you that I let my kid go to town on his Nintendo 3DS when we eat out as a family and I’m not ashamed of it.
My little boy is a talker. He’s super intelligent and he’s always asking questions. The way he sees the world enriches my life just from the chances I get to listen to his point of view. Watching him grow and discover has been one of the highlights of my existence—but that doesn’t mean that mommy couldn’t use a break now and again.
The kid wants to have conversations while I’m using the bathroom. He’ll sit on the floor in the bathroom so we can chat while I take a shower. He talks while I cook dinner, drive the car and vacuum the living room. I can’t tell you how lovely it is to have an adult conversation once in a while, or better yet, complete and blissful silence.
Now you may argue that I could play tic-tac-toe with him or color pictures while we wait for our dinner to come. Truth be told, he’s not big on art and I’d rather not spend my one night out of the house playing tic-tac-toe, and I refuse to feel guilty about that.
A regular day for me starts around 7am when the little bugger climbs into my bed and asks if I can get him some breakfast. I begrudgingly drag myself out of bed, tend to his little sister and grant his request. If I’m really lucky, the boy will amuse himself in the playroom for an hour or two and the baby will play on her mat so I can get some writing done. I’m not typically that lucky.
Eventually, we’ll do some laundry together, clean up the kitchen and whatnot before getting lunch together. After we eat he heads off to preschool and I cram as much work into a two and a half hour period as my infant will allow. Then I head out to pick him up—we always walk when the weather is nice—and then we either get started on dinner together or hop in the car and go to one of his lessons (soccer, t-ball, swimming, Taekwondo, etc.).
After all this excitement we eat, brush teeth, take tubbies, read stories, get tucked in, climb out of bed, go back to bed, and then sneak into mommy and daddy’s bed as soon as we’re sure they are downstairs in the living room. At this point in the day, I have a few more hours of work to do before I can get some shut eye myself at which point I climb into bed with a hubby who’s six foot two, an infant who wants to nurse all night long, two bed-hogging canines and, of course, the five year old who likes to sleep between mom and dad but without any blankets—which means neither of the adults gets any either.
My life revolves around my kids, and I definitely wouldn’t have it any other way, but I think I’ve earned a break for an hour or two when we travel. We spend our days exploring and discovering, and as we wait for dinner to come, it’s nice to be able to concentrate on an honest-to-god adult-type conversation with the man I married. Then I can eat food that I didn’t cook and have someone else clean up after the meal. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
Also, not everyone can afford a babysitter—on vacation or not. I don’t want to get rid of the little man, I’d just love a little break from all the talking. I still enjoy his presence. Especially when he’s not talking.
So at the end of the day I don’t really see the big deal about kids using gaming systems or smartphones or tablets or whatever other technology we can dig up while we eat out together. Don’t tell me that these nights while traveling with kids are “family time”. Every moment of every day is family time! I refuse to feel bad for letting myself have a break—especially on a vacation that I worked hard to plan and pay for—even if it includes technology-as-a-babysitter, and you can’t make me.