Neil Patrick Harris Doesn’t Allow His Kids to Use Cell Phones at the Dinner Table
Cell phone addiction is real. A new survey of 1,000 millenials showed they were willing to give up time with their pets and time showering just to maintain their smartphone addiction. That won’t be the case in the Burtka-Harris household in Harlem that Neil Patrick Harris and his husband actor David Burtka share with their twin adolescents. The twins, both 7 (of course), named Gideon Scott Burtka-Harris and Harper Grace Burtka-Harris aren’t allowed to have phones at the table. This is especially important as the family is so busy always on the go that any time spent together is a bonus so they try to make the best of it. That’s how Neil and David keep their family together in their 5 story brownstone. Neil sat down with Architectural Digest to discuss his parenting and life at home including the recent partnership with Jif Power Ups, Jif’s new peanut butter snack.
Architectural Digest: Speaking of snacktime struggles, what’s one that is especially memorable with your twins?
AD: The brand mentions the “hilarity of being a parent.” Do you really think being a parent is hilarious?
NPH: The kids are so filled with energy. They’ve graduated the first grade and are heading into grade two. They’re reading, they can see the world is right in front of them. So, now, it’s about trying to get them to calm down and focus on a singular thing. Harper will do 45 cartwheels in a row after dinner—which doesn’t seem fun at all for her stomach. I can’t help but smile that the only reason I’m cranky with them is when they’re doing circus tricks.
AD: What’s your favorite room at home?
NPH: The way that our brownstone works is that the kitchen is right in the middle of it all. It’s definitely the nucleus of the atom. There’s a very open layout on that floor. David’s constantly cooking in there. He has a cookbook, Life Is a Party, coming out in spring 2019. So, he’s been recipe-testing and developing a lot of new things that we’ve all been able to taste. We both grew up in families that ate dinners together, so that’s just what we do to connect—whether we go out to sushi or whether we stay in. It’s good to develop manners and listening skills. And it’s good to be able to catch up in earnest together. We have a “no screens” policy and a “no toys” policy. It’s a chance to look at each other in the eye and reconnect, given all the individual stuff that we’re doing.
AD: What’s your favorite new item in the kitchen?
NPH: I’m a big fan of the Searzall. It’s essentially a larger version of those butane torches that would torch the top of a crème brûlée. You can quickly broil things or heat things. If bacon is halfway done, you can quickly give it a sear. If you sous-vide a protein, you can quickly give it a char. It kind of looks like a weapon I would use in a zombie apocalypse.
AD: How has your home evolved since you and David became parents?
NPH: The house changes a lot from before you have a kid to when you have a kid just because you have to “baby-proof” everything and make sure that anything that is dangerous is not anymore. When they start crawling, that stuff changes. When they start walking, that stuff changes. Now, our kids are self-sufficient and individuals, so everything is back to normal. I do encourage my husband to purchase things with practicality and longevity in mind—not just how cool it might look. The kids are seven and they’ll bang everything up. Fancy rugs and expensive tables? I don’t know that they’d be super resellable after the Burtka-Harris twins.
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