I tried to be one of those ‘good’ parents this summer and enrolled Haydan in a bunch of activities so she would have a fun summer break. I totally overshot it and forgot that I had a job that has me working from home. Regardless, Haydan has been enjoying a summer full of craft time with friends at a local toy shop, Boy’s & Girl’s Club activities, a Fairytale Ballet Class, Vacation Bible School, gymnastics, and to top it all off—my mother decided to sign her up for swim team, which meets 4 times a week.
I was at her swim practice this morning and looked around and saw that there was not one parent with their eyes on their child in the pool practicing their strokes. At first I thought, “Good Lord, how horrible is this, every single parent here is glued to their mobile device!’ Then I looked down and realized that I, too, had my phone in my hand. I sat and thought about that all morning…
I feel like I read articles left and right all about how we parents now a days are glued to mobile devices, ipads, etc. etc. and how we are not giving our children enough time. We don’t stop to enjoy those sweet precious moments with our kids and blah blah blah. I bet the people who write those articles aren’t parents themselves—-or their children are grown now, and they are just royally pissed off that the smart phone didn’t exist while they were raising their children.
You know what? Yeah, the devices can be bad. That is, if you allow your child or yourself to sit on them 24/7 and don’t stop to breathe life in, enjoy a meal together, or go for a walk outside. I sat there this morning at the pool while looking at every single parent glued to their iPhone and realized that there really is no problem, per say— that ‘smart phone time’ is more like a parent’s ‘me’ time. At least it is for me! While I sat there today at Haydan’s swim practice this morning, not only did I catch up on some of my favorite trashy celebrity news, but I also texted a customer about her bill being late and sent an order in to my supplier for another customer. Sure, I wasn’t paying attention to my daughter (that much) while she swam in the pool while her coach perfected her backstroke, but I not only completed two business tasks in those quick 30 minutes, I also engaged in a little ‘Smashley Ashley’ time.
When I was a kid, my mom would pull up to the swim team drop off line and toss us, our goggles, sunscreen, and towels out of the car and bid us bon-voyage. I have no idea where she went. She could have very well sat in the parking lot and drank a glass of wine (kidding…sort of..) or made a trip to the grocery store to pick up family essentials. Either way, I wouldn’t blame her. I wouldn’t blame her for taking a minute to herself and getting the hell away from my sister and I.
Kids are A LOT OF WORK. Haydan has been home a total of three days from visiting her Grandparents a state away and she has already turned my house upside down, let the rabbit escape, informed me that I have ‘white stripes’ (aka STRETCH MARKS) all over my side (as I was trying to use the restroom privately), and dumped an entire gallon of orange paint all over the patio of our backyard.
I do not feel guilty for not entertaining my child every 13 seconds and I don’t feel guilty for looking over Facebook throughout the day or at swim practice. I don’t think any of us should feel guilty if we are on our mobile devices during our kids soccer practice or ballet class if there are no other parents around that seem interested in starting up a conversation. Or in my case, some days I just don’t feel the need to start up a conversation! Mobile devices are basically just a different version of the newspaper, or in my case, People/US Weekly Magazine. No one would bat an eye if they saw you sitting there reading the newspaper while your son/daughter practiced karate but God forbid we are glued to our mobile devices.
Times have changed, and with change comes criticism. I would like to call to action a ban on the generalized thought that is: ’You’re a shitty parent because you are on Facebook’s mobile app and not watching your kid’s Keri Strug wannabe gymnast routine’.
Being a parent is 24/7. It is one of the most rewarding and fun jobs on the planet, yet, absolutely EXHAUSTING. If you are one of those parents who can sit there and not touch Facebook, Pinterest, or your email all day until your child is in bed…well, then you are probably not a fan of me or my blog. Feel free to unsubscribe to my blog. I have no idea how to do that but I am sure you can google it.
I love my kid, she is hilarious. We have our little moments together throughout the day where we plan pranks to pull on Justin or we get our nails ‘did’ or have a pretend campfire singalong in her room with all the dogs. We haven’t spent this much time together since she was a baby and I wasn’t working. She is awesome and I enjoy our time together but I am letting go of feeling somewhat guilty when I peruse Facebook, Pinterest, The Daily Mail, or deal with annoying customers via text while she is being entertained in another fashion.
And while we are on that note—I also don’t feel bad when I am free/available to entertain her when she is ‘bored’ and I tell her to figure out something to do on her own! I used to be sent outside to play but seeing as most of our neighbors are 90+ years old—I don’t feel bad telling her to read a good book, get out the Crayola’s or build a make-shift castle/fort in her room—-whatever, it doesn’t matter, just something that keeps her imagination going and her away from me for an hour or two. Sometimes momma’s and papa’s need a b-r-e-a-k-! Not to mention, continuously entertaining her with games/activities/outings/etc. does absolutely nothing for her in the long run. The kid must know how to entertain herself. I was a master at self-entertainment. Look at me now! HA HA HA.
Going forward, don’t feel bad if you aren’t 100% engaged in your kids football practice. Get a look when he is up to
bat—wait, no, that’s baseball—when he is up to…scrimmage (?) and give him your best cheer—-then go right back to that Pinterest deco inspiration you know you’ll never make.
I’m over feeling an ounce of guilt for texting a friend while Haydan’s getting swim instructions from her coach or for sitting in my car taking a cat nap while she does her ballet class. Mom’s and Dad’s need a minute for themselves too and while we knew what we were taking on when we agreed that parenthood was something we wanted to participate in—there is nothing in the rule book that says taking a time out for yourself isn’t okay….even if it’s reading some ridiculous blog about a girl named Smashley and her looney tune fam’ bam.
So, next time you are at a sporting activity for your child or whatever it is they participate in and you get the evil eye for being on your mobile device from a parent —-feel free to flip them the bird…that, or get a newspaper and use it as a shield to make like you’re reading the paper so you can scan Pinterest on your iPad while your kid learns the backstroke.
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I’ll High Five You Next Time I See You On Your Smart Phone At Swim Team!