For #MotherlyStories | I’ve decided to give mamas with smartphones a break.
I’ve read a lot about how distracted we are by technology—in fact, I see it frequently in my own life.
I’ve spent hours feeling guilty about doing work during my daughter’s ballet class, or peeking at social media at the playground. I do believe that our children benefit when we are interacting with them rather than merely monitoring them.
And if we want to stand a chance of teaching our children to keep technology in its proper place—if we want to raise a generation that has self-control when it comes to technology—then yes, we do need to model that ourselves as mamas.
But I’ve come to believe that we just need to give the mom with a cell phone a break.
That mama on her cell phone?
She has been actively engaging her child for the last 6 hours straight and just wants a quick 10 minutes to zone out while her child plays in a safe place.
She’s browsing Facebook for a few minutes to regain that bit of sanity that will carry her through the end of the day.
That mother checking Instagram?
She just folded laundry through nap time because she knew she would never get it done otherwise.
And just when she had a moment to sit down, naptime was over.
She doesn’t have time to sleep when the baby sleeps, so for her, a mental break will be restful.
And taking care of mama, well that’s good for baby, too.
That woman sifting through emails?
She’s a work-at-home-mom who juggles parenting with running a business.
She might have to send her kids to a babysitter if she couldn’t access work through her phones.
She might be a bit distracted now, but is so happy to know that she will be the ones who tuck in her own kids at nap time, kiss boo boos, and walk her little one through their daily teachable moments.
This is how she provides balance for her family.
Personally, I’m in the busy working mom boat, but my smartphone is about more than just balancing my work day with my family life.
You’ll also find me on my phone searching Pinterest for teacher/class gifts at the last minute, looking up recipes for dinner, researching various symptoms my children present at any given time, and, without a doubt, handing my phone right over to my kids to prevent meltdowns at the pediatrician’s office or any time a restaurant visit runs long.
If I didn’t have the flexibility of a mobile office, my daughter would be sitting in preschool while I was sitting at a desk.
We would not be having a special treat together after class or discussing her dreams of owning her own salon (or bakery or cupcake shop where she could sing all day) when she grows up.
My cell is more than a phone; it as a tool, a resource, and yes, occasionally an escape or even a babysitter.
But for the most part, my phone does not parent my children, and my use of it does not make me a bad mother.
I do feel the guilt, though, so I often remind myself that everything today is accessed by our cell phones.
I don’t recall anyone giving my mother’s generation a hard time for reading the newspaper or searching the Betty Crocker cookbook for dinner ideas.
Moms today are simply doing the same thing via a different platform.
We are all doing the very best we can within our own unique situations.
We should all absolutely put down the technology in lieu of real, human interaction every chance we have, but let’s not feel bad about ourselves as mothers if we pick up a cell phone for a few minutes here and there.
So next time another mother picks up her smartphone on the playground, or searches a recipe in the grocery store, or checks her email in the check-out line, I’m dropping the judgment.
You do what you need to do, mama.
Jennifer Gottschalk is a sales rep, mama, and blogs at Baby Steps in High Heels.