The other day my family and I were celebrating a special event at a fun Mexican restaurant, when my two-year-old son decided he wanted to be the center of attention. Well, not really, but it ended up that way.
As I was ordering my meal and talking to the waiter, my son stood up in his chair, lost his balance and accomplished a trifecta of destruction: 1) his chair fell sideways in the aisle, landing with a loud “thud” at the feet of several other guests, 2) his cup of water and seemingly 300 ice cubes careened across the floor, forming a huge lake, and 3), he fell to the floor, too, and had a look of shock on his face apparently wondering how he had made such a big mess so fast.
He thankfully was fine, but it was only our latest example of something every parent already knows: It’s not easy taking children to restaurants. One of our three kids enjoys crawling under the table from time to time. Another one wants only to sit in my lap. All three would eat anything found on the floor if given a chance. And I haven’t even talked about what one of my boys likes to do in the men’s restroom.
My wife and I use electronics only sparingly with our children, but when we’re at a restaurant trying to have a good, pleasant meal and conversation – and not waste $25 or more — we’ll sometimes pull out our smartphones and let them play a game or two.
Honestly, just about any game will work with a toddler, but I’ve found that apps with animals works best with our kids. Here are my four favorite apps that distract my toddlers long enough for me to eat more tortilla chips, drink another glass of tea, or simply talk with my wife a few more minutes.
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Brain Pop Jr.’s characters.
I’m kind of an old-fashioned dad to my three children. I’d rather them play outdoors than indoors, and I want them to read books instead of watch TV.
But I do like to use smartphone and tablet apps, in moderation, for learning. My oldest son has learned quite a bit from educational apps, and I’m always looking out for new ones that can help him learn something else.
We’ve tried dozens of apps – deleting many of them – and we only keep ones that have education and fun at their core. Typically, we pay a dollar or two for them.
In this first part of a multi-part series, here are five that have stood out. All are available on iPhone and most on Android devices. Continue reading →
Perhaps I should have seen it coming. My 5-year-old son and I were getting on our bicycles, preparing to take a leisurely ride down the road, when he gave me an ultimatum.
“Dad, don’t get on your phone one bit.”
A dozen things entered my mind. Can I go 30 minutes without looking at my iPhone? What if, during one of our stops, I want to check my email or look at the latest news on Twitter, or even open the Weather Channel app when I see that dark cloud on the horizon?
“OK,” I said.
So for 30 minutes we rode down the road, had a pleasant time, and I survived.
Humans always have had distractions from the more important things in life, but I sometimes wonder if smartphones — through the marvel of technology – have compiled every distraction into one handy handheld device. They’re tiny portals into the entire world, with a seemingly infinite amount of possibilities.
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