‘Mom, Can I Play On Your Phone?’

The worst question in the world.

“Mom, can I play on your phone?”

It starts innocuously enough. You say yes while waiting at the doctor’s office forever. While sitting at a sibling’s soccer game. While waiting in line at the pharmacy. When you just need 15 minutes of quiet before you lose it. When stuck in rush hour traffic. When you just want to sleep a little longer.

But now, with a 10-year-old and two 7-year-olds, phone use in our house has become a huge frustration in the already frustrating frustration that is parenting.

The number of disasters that spawn from this question permanently roll my eyes up into my head so far I can’t see to next year.

When I say yes to them playing games on my phone (games. not social media. HECK NO.) this happens:

  • I miss 17 very important work calls, emails, and texts because they don’t tell me anyone called.
  • They fight over it.
  • They scream when I take it away.
  • They wake me up at 5 a.m. to ask if they can play on it. (OH HELL NO, CHILD!!)
  • I miss calls from my sister overseas.
  • I miss the text from my oldest that says, “I’m done with practice, please come pick me up.”
  • I have to run without my running app/music because my phone is dead.
  • I can’t take pictures later at their baseball or ballet because my phone is dead.

Sure, it’s annoying for me to not have my phone for my own selfish Instagram/photography/general scrolling purposes. But I also need it as a tool to manage our daily life. Texts with babysitters. Pick ups, drop offs, is this time okay? Don’t forget it’s blue shirt day at school tomorrow emails. Baseball practice schedule changes. The doctor’s appointment confirmation texts.

I’m sure you’ve seen the meme of the child bending over his mother’s casket, asking if he can play on her phone.

That’s me.

My husband deleted all the games off his phone. I have a math game now they’re supposed to play over the summer (we’ll see). That’s it. We are done. So that I can run my life and not hunt down my phone or deal with a tantrum when I need it or have a dead battery right when I get a flat tire on the side of the interstate during a hurricane (I can totally see that happening).

“Mom, can I play on your phone?”

The answer is: No. No, you may not. No honey, we’ve talked about this. No.


Meg Sacks
Meg is a working mom of four and an avid community volunteer. She has worked in corporate communications and media relations for more than 18 years, for a Fortune 500 company as well as a non-profit. She took some time off to enjoy life as a stay at home mom after the birth of her first child in 2008. Her sweet, introverted daughter, was excited to welcome her baby brother in 2013, and then boy/girl twins joined the family in 2016. Meg finds being an “office mama” a constant balancing act and never-ending challenge but enjoys the opportunities it offers her for personal growth. A Virginia girl at heart, she loves Florida’s warm weather, the great quality of life Jacksonville offers her family.


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