I wrote some time back about my unwillingness to manage or switch off my (slight) addiction to my phone. I also wrote about the effect on my general mood when said piece of technology got irreparably destroyed again (I do that A LOT!)
I am all to willing to admit that I am definitely rather attached to my phone, and I also don’t believe that’s entirely a bad thing. My phone is used to keep up with the ten-thousand appointments, meetings, play dates etc that come with parenting two kids, as well as my work commitments and blog schedule and deadlines. My phone allows me the absolute freedom to blog from anywhere I like should the need arise (mostly on my lunch break). My phone is my camera, my photo editor, my video recorder. It’s where I conduct most of the household banking, write the weekly shopping list, shop for new
You Can’t Turn Me Off
I was offered the opportunity to review a new book with Amelia, which is aimed at encouraging parents to put their phones down for a moment and enjoy being in the moment with their kids. I was interested to see what the book would be like, and to be honest I kind of expected to feel a bit preached at (turns out I was wrong). What I didn’t expect, however, was for it to make me think twice about how responsibly I’m using my phone around the kids. I was also a little bit taken aback by Amelia’s response to the book.
“What would you rather; Play with Mummy, or play with Mummy’s phone?”
A couple of nights ago, when Amelia asked to read #BabyLove My Toddler Life again before bed, I decided to really get involved this time instead of just reading it to her. So I asked her some questions about what she thought of the book, what she thought of the little boy and his mummy, what her favourite bits were etc. I asked the above question, knowing what the answer would be. Except… She said “Mummy’s phone!” Well, what she actually said was;
“Mummy’s phone! No wait, play with Mummy. Well, really, what I meant is I want to play with you and your phone. Maybe I can watch Peppa on your phone and then we can play, is that ok Mummy?”
Err… Ok. It was at this point that I really started to sit up and take note. There was more to this book than I first thought. It was also at this point (bearing in mind I’ve now read the book to Amelia about 6 times) that I actually noticed that almost every single illustration in the book is shown through the screen of a phone. I guess I’m so used to this that it just didn’t register in my consciousness.
I’m Not A Total Monster
I sat for a while after Amelia had fallen asleep thinking about how responsibly I use my phone around the kids, and if I need to make any changes. At first, I was really beating myself up, but actually I came to the conclusion that while there are times I could probably step back a bit, for the most part I’m pretty good at putting the phone down and looking my kids in the eyes.
Is the word “selfie” a part of my 3-year-old’s everyday vocabulary? Yes. But she can also say “conversation”, write her own name, and hold a decent and coherent conversation with any adult. Does my three-year-old know how to swipe away an iPhone notification? Yup. But she also loves to draw, colour in, do crafts, and roll around in the mud.
So have I modelled bad technological behaviour for my kids? Maybe occasionally, but for the most part no. Amelia agreed with the Mummy in the book that her phone wasn’t for play. She also wasn’t very happy with the little boy when he dropped his Mummy’s phone, because “he might break it and then it will be all smashed and his Mummy would be sad, and he would be sad if his Mummy smashed his toys!” Couldn’t have put it better myself, kid!
The book definitely has made me a little bit more aware of when I’m spending too much time watching my kids through a screen rather than properly interacting with them. But more than that, it actually made me feel good about having already struck a pretty decent balance when it comes to that. Yes, I take a ton of pictures of my kids, but I also spend my fair share of time on the floor with them, painting, getting outside, role playing, and generally having fun.
A Book That Reflects Us
Overall, it was really lovely to have a book which mirrored us so well, and was really rooted in modern reality. Because the reality for many of us is that our kids are totally aware of our phones and other tech in the house. We both totally related with the book and it’s illustrations; I mean a book that shows mummy taking a photo on her phone, taking a video of her child, and giving him a big snuggle! Isn’t that most of our days?! It was great for Amelia to be able to draw parallels with her own life, and gave her the opportunity to think about which of those bits of our day she likes best.
I was sent a copy of #BabyLove My Toddler Life by Corine Dehghanpisheh to read and review with Amelia, but as always all opinions are entirely my own (and Amelia’s!)