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Do you let your kids use phones? Sometimes?
When I was pregnant with M, one of the things I wanted to do as a parent was not let her get hooked on devices early on. I wanted her to get hooked on books, toys and activities that would help in her physical and mental development. Why I even fantasied about her falling in love with books when she was just four months old. I would look at kids asking their parents for tablets or phones to watch their favourite cartoons who willingly obliged. In my mind, I would tell myself – Not going to happen with me. But little did I know then that it was just wishful thinking? I was just a naive pregnant lady probably judging other parents without having a clue as to what parenting is. I had no clue as to how exhausting parenting is going to be.
For the first six to seven months, it was just as I had planned. She didn’t need rhymes to sit quietly or have her dinner. Yes, it was just the calm before the storm. Things gradually began changing when I went back to work. From trying to keep her occupied just for a few minutes one evening with rhymes so that I could do my chores after coming back from work, it gradually but surely became my go-to weapon to take a breather, attend that client call or just prepare her dinner.
Every day I told myself that it’s only for a few minutes. I told myself that as she grows older I’ll gradually reduce the time or not resort to this. I made myself believe that it was just temporary. But who was I kidding? Form just a few minutes one day, it has now become a few minutes almost every day.
Books on parenting just talk about the ideal scenarios. Why even blogs do the same. Giving your child a smartphone to watch rhymes is handing them cocaine or some such is what you’ll get to read. Maybe because devices are addictive. Makes sense. These books and blogs tell us we should not do this and we shouldn’t do that. For a long time, I thought I must be doing something wrong. Why wasn’t I being able to be a perfect parent like them? Well, it’s only recently that I have realised it’s not possible for an ordinary parent to be like the parents in these books and blogs. I have huge respect for them but I don’t think I can be one of them.
Is it really realistic to think that in this era of technology we can keep our kids away from our phones? #Parenting Click To Tweet
It annoys me that nobody talks about what parents end up doing unsuspectingly. Everyone talks about abstract ideas, the perfect scenarios. But hey, who is perfect? Neither the children nor the parents. Yes, take my word for it. Or, very few are in reality, if at all. There is this ridiculous standard that parents apparently need to measure up to these days. And I honestly don’t have the energy or the time to work towards that. I much rather settle being a flawed parent and have my wits about me.
The truth is I literally don’t have time on weekdays. So, after coming home from work when I need to finish my chores like making her dinner, washing her lunch boxes, folding the laundry, simply changing my clothes or even going to the bathroom, I need her to be engaged. Now that engagement can be in the form of her toys but even for that, if the rhymes are being streamed on the television, I get to do my work without interruption. Then when I want to have my dinner with M still awake and S stuck at work, I give her my phone so that she can watch her rhymes there. Yes, so that at least I can have my dinner in peace. So, yes, I have become one of those parents who hand devices to their child willingly on occasions. And before you judge me, let me tell you why we parents do this.
We are tired. No, scratch that. We are perpetually tired. Consider this as a template for a normal routine for parents, especially if they are workings mothers like me. My morning starts at 6 am and even before that how well I sleep depends on M. So, after waking up early often with minimal shut-eye, after going through all the motions to get us to the daycare and office on time, after working my arse off at the latter, I still can’t come back home to sip wine while my daughter dutifully sits with her toys or her books. She’s often cranky or difficult to handle. And I still have to get work done for her and for everyone at home. So, I grasp at straws, at anything that can keep her occupied. And that’s where rhymes on television or the phone come in. When I want her to have her dinner and playing rhymes helps me achieve that, I go for it. Initially, I used to judge myself for doing this but not anymore. I’m only human and it’s fine.
In a perfect world, my daughter would have become a book crazy toddler by now. But that didn’t happen and trust me it’s not due to the lack of trying. No matter how many books I buy for her, I cannot force her to like it. Things happen at their own pace and if they are meant to happen. And I need my time. So, even though they say it’s good to let your children get bored so that they find out for themselves what they like or dislike, the thing is sometimes parents are too exhausted to wait for that enlightenment to happen. We are always on a schedule, always on our toes and if it’s a damn rhyme on the phone for a few minutes that can let us have a moment’s respite then so be it. It has still not become an addiction for M but that can change any day. Until then, I’m going to try to keep it that way but then what do I know. Moderation is the ley and I’m going to try doing that.
So, yes, to answer the question I asked at the beginning, I let my daughter see rhymes on my phone sometimes and I’m not going to feel guilty about it because even though a parent, I’m only human. In fact, I’m a work-in-progress parent and not the perfect parent you read about in books and blogs.
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