Oooo - taken with the iPhone. What?!? Can the iPhone actually enhance quality time?

Oooo – taken with the iPhone. What?!? Can the iPhone actually enhance quality time?

There is a post circling Facebook lately (click here to read it) “reminding” moms that every minute they’re on their iPhone they’re missing priceless moments in their child’s precious childhood. While there are elements of this post that are touching and sadly all too often true, I’m inclined to a) give a mom on her smartphone the benefit of the doubt, and b) question, who is this guy and where does he get off judging others (especially mothers) and their smartphone usage? Before we cover all smartphone wielding moms with his wet blanket of judgment, how about we take a realistic look rather than point the finger of shame and blame?

 

Are there really moms out there who are excessive users, on their phone “during playtime, at the dinner table, at bedtime”? Absolutely, but I choose to believe they are the exception, not the norm. I refuse to believe his words that “You’ve shown them, all these moments, that the phone is more important than they are.” Other moms agree with me…click here.

He’s assuming that the 5 minutes he glimpses into a mother’s life and observes her on her smartphone while waiting for her child after school is representative of how she parents all the time. Whether she’s on her smartphone at the park, at a restaurant, or during intermission at her child’s hockey game, none of us has any idea of what is going on inside her life or her head, or what her motivations are in those moments. Maybe she’s sending the picture of her child scoring a goal to Grandma who’s in the hospital receiving chemotherapy. Then again, maybe she hates watching hockey so is browsing Pinterest for ideas on hockey-related crafts she can do with her son—an activity they can both enjoy. Or maybe she hasn’t had more than 5 minutes alone—not even to pee or collect her thoughts—all day. In any case, it’s none of his, yours or my business.

But if we’re going to play this game and condemn a mother for being on her smartphone when she “should” be spending quality time with her little angels, shouldn’t the same principles apply for any activity that takes her attention away—or is it just the “self-serving” activities, like Facebook, that are the issue? What if she’s on the phone making a doctor’s appointment for her child or texting her best friend who is contemplating leaving her husband, or maybe she’s writing that blog post that refuels her passion for life; should she drop everything the moment her child seeks her attention?

If you are a mom (which the writer of this post is not) then you know that the exact second you pick up a phone (smart or otherwise), or a book, or try to pee alone, your child will inevitably want your attention. It’s uncanny how their needs arise when you are occupied. Picking up your iPhone is actually a great way to get their attention.

So, if we were to always drop what we’re doing when our child wants or needs us, then quite possibly nothing would ever get done: dinner would never get made, we’d have to wear Depends, laundry would pile up, and our friends would disown us, and so on. We have a lot of shit to do in a day, in addition to caring for our offspring. Is there really an issue if we take a moment for ourselves? Is it so wrong, to say, “give mommy 5 minutes to finish what she’s doing and then I will watch you on the slide”?

The bottom line is I feel that as long as the kids are safe and cared for it’s OK for mommies to take a mental break and check “stuff” on their iPhone. I certainly do, and so do many great moms I know. I’m the first to admit that I’m far from perfect; but I do have my moments of magnificence and misjudgment, and yet, overall I know I’m a good mom. A good mom that likes to spend time on her iPhone. And maybe you’d be interested to know that just because I’m on my iPhone doesn’t mean I’m on Facebook or Twitter or texting. Often I’m making grocery or to-do lists or scanning ideas for dinner or finding cookie recipes for Meebs and I to bake together…not entirely self-serving acts. I like my smartphone; it helps me stay organized and connected to those other than Meebs who mean something to me.

I wonder if the author of that post would judge me if I pulled out a book at the park while Meebs was playing? Would it make a difference  if I told you that right now I’m reading  Dr. Gary Chapman’s  The 5 Love Languages of Children on my Kindle, which I access from my iPhone when I’m on the go?

This author’s post assumes that all moms with iPhones are playing games or social networking. But then, who cares if they are? The key is that when your child seeks your attention (Hey MOM, look at me!) you turn the phone off and put it away. Obviously, if Meebs is standing in front of me with a book or asks me to colour with her, I choose her over my iPhone. I guarantee that most moms do. In fact, this happened just this morning. Meebs was eating her toast and watching Mike the Knight—GASP!—yes, Meebs watches tv in the morning… it helps her de-grump since she’s not always a morning person. I was on my iPhone snuggled up beside her, trying to avoid her PB&J fingers. After about 10 minutes she decided she wanted to talk instead of watch tv, so I turned off my iPhone and very theatrically set it down so she knew she had my attention. Of course, I never want her to feel that she is second to a device, so whenever I can I choose her. But that doesn’t mean that just because we’re in the same room I’m going to stop what I’m doing, even if I happen to miss her “making” wiener and grape soup. I enjoy the times when we are both occupied with our own activities and yet aware of each other’s presence. Doesn’t that foster independence?

Bottom line… the post is a good reminder, but the real message should be: use good judgment and treat your child how you want to be treated. If taking 5 minutes on your iPhone to do whatever makes you feel human, and not just martyr-mom, then do it. You will actually be a better mom for it.