One of our favorite local places to go out for lunch or dinner is Rookie’s All American Pub & Grill, which has four locations in the northwest Chicagoland suburbs. They often have great food specials that make taking our family of five to dinner really affordable, and we’re particularly big fans of their $1 burger, hot dog or chicken sandwich month-long specials. ($1 hamburger month just wrapped up for June, and July is $1 chicken sandwich month – grilled, blackened, or breaded. Mmm!)
Between last month’s $1 specials and this month’s, we’ve been going there off and on for fun, bargain-priced dinners out as a family. We usually don’t eat out this often, so it’s been kind of eye-opening to see how many people around us are spending nearly their entire dinners glued to their phones or tablets. Rookie’s is a very casual place to go, and I understand the temptation to check texts or emails while waiting for the food to arrive, but more and more, it seems we see entire families on phones or devices — children too, even preschoolers, sitting silently with their own tablets in hand throughout an entire meal.
Going out to dinner is a treat for us — an excuse not to cook, to sit together, talk and enjoy a little time out of the house. My youngest children don’t have phones yet, but admittedly, it can be tough to get a 20-year-old to put her phone down when we’re simply sitting around waiting for food. If she picks her phone up, my husband will likely pick his up next, and then… there goes the conversation.
Last night, we had dinner at Rookie’s (again.) Before heading to the restaurant, I threw a deck of Uno cards in my purse. (I know how long the wait can be during their $1 food specials!)
Instead of being tempted to peek at phones, our whole family enjoyed multiple raucous rounds of Uno while we waited for dinner to arrive. My kids are very competitive Uno players who think it’s fun to hit the same person with Draw Four or Skip cards several times in a row, and everyone was laughing, talking, and having fun while we waited for our food. We had so much fun that the boys were protesting when dinner arrived as they didn’t want to stop playing!
Why not throw in a deck of cards the next time you head to a casual dinner with the family? It doesn’t have to be Uno — it’s just a favorite in our family as it’s fast and easy for everyone to play. (Crazy Eights has nearly the same rules as Uno, and you can play with any standard deck of cards.) As we left the restaurant, the boys said “Let’s do this again next time!”