Friday, April 25, 2014

In defense of Moms on Phones

Today the topic came up among friends once again about "those moms on their phones" - ie, what a sad state of affairs it is to look around the average playground/street/play space and see nothing but kids playing and moms staring at their smart phones. As one of those moms, I'd like to say a few words in our defense.

First off, I am not glued to my phone. I still have to watch B very closely to make sure he doesn't run off, fall, get kicked in the head by kids on swings, or (most likely) get in an ugly pushing match with some kid over a toy. But if I hear a text or phone call coming in? I'll check it. I'll check my email, I'll pop on Facebook for a few seconds to see what my friends are up to. But compose an email or lengthy text? Not really - I don't like to have my attention off him that long. Experience has taught me the difference between adult time and toddler time - in the time it takes me to place a sippy cup in the refrigerator, Bumpus can: put his plastic plates on the stove, turn on the burners, and melt them; throw all the recycling on the floor; climb on to the kitchen counter and stick his hands in the butter dish and smear it in his hair; and put all the clean dishes in the strainer into the sink full of dirty dishes (disclaimer - he doesn't actually do these things. But I bet he could if he put his mind to it). 

Still the fact remains that on any given day you will see me at a playground looking at my phone while my kid plays. And some of you will judge me for this. But if you haven't walked in my shoes, you don't know why I do this, in fact, why I must do this.

At the moment my phone is the only thing that connects me to the outside world - that reminds me that I have a business to run, and enables me to run this business. It also allows me to text other mothers for play dates and get valuable parenting information. Why can't I use my phone when I'm not taking care of my child? Because there is never a time I'm not taking care of my child(ren), except when I'm driving. And I don't text and drive, and now even making hands-free calls in the car is kind of impossible since the new baby screams his head off for the entirety of every drive we take. And we cannot spend any time at home because the two-year-old climbs the walls, and as soon as he goes to bed I'm suddenly the mother of a newborn all night.  So, as a work at home mom with no help, I'm supposed to email, call, Facebook, blog, and text when exactly?

Also...few things annoy me more than parents who won't just let their kids play. Everywhere I go mothers (it's always mothers - dads don't do this) hover over their kids, directing their play, constantly admonishing them over unimportant shit, and pulling them away from things they're enjoying to make them do something else. It drives me nuts. I want to say, "leave him alone, he's fine! Just let him figure it out and play!" Is this the societal ideal today? The whole "get down on your kid's level and play with them" thing? Well, I hate to break it to you, but...I don't want to play with a two-year-old all day, every day. It's stupid and boring. This is why we go places where there are other kids his age he can play with. The other day at a play space a little boy came running out of a play house excitedly saying, "mommy, mommy! I made a friend!" I casually looked over and much to my delight saw that it was my kid he was referring to. It was awesome. 

So I see how technology has invaded our lives and made us isolate and not connect with each other. I get it. I was saddened by the sight of a group of boys in a park on a blanket all playing on an IPad. These days Bumpus pretty much never watches tv, I don't have an iPad because I can't afford one, and I never let him touch my iPhone lest he reprogram it into Croatian. But me? Well...I'm an adult, my brain is fully formed, I'm a stay at home mom, and my phone helps me run my business and stay connected to the world. I realize not all moms on phones have my circumstances - some may really be neglectful assholes. If I worked all week and then had a few precious hours with my kids on a Saturday to enjoy them, I would not take that time to check Facebook. But all day, every day taking care of a toddler and a newborn? I'm checking Facebook while my son makes friends and plays without me directing him.


  1. I get it. And also, toddlers don't actually NEED us to be 100% focused on us at the playground. If they are doing their own thing and we are monitoring their safety, who cares if we check our phones?

  2. Love this post--I even quoted in my upcoming blog post! Thank you for this wise take on modern motherhood.

  3. Wise words! Thanks for putting that out there. Being on my phone is one of the few non-child focused things my duo allow me to do with any regular basis (although my kids are too crazy when out in public to do it while other people could see; but at home, my phone is also my connection to the world beyond and my students and co-workers).

  4. This is absolutely one of those things where it is possible to be neglectful and/or overdo it and it's entirely possible to handle it responsibly and not be neglectful at all. You are on the better end of that spectrum for sure.

    You spend A LOT of time with your children, it's fine for you to do adult things when they're safe and otherwise occupied. Like you said, it would be totally different if you only spent Saturdays with your children, but they are at no risk of not spending enough time with you and folks who don't know you and your situation have no business judging... honestly, even those who do know you have no business judging either.