I am a Social Media Manager, which means I work remotely, and I spend a lot of time on, you guessed it, social media. This summer, work has picked up, and while that is great, it also means I have to, you know, work. From home. With three small children under the age of seven. And aside from my laptop, my main “work tool” is my iPhone.
We do not earn enough money for me to put three children in summer camp, nor do we have many family members who are able to help. It all falls on my husband and me. He spends at least five, sometimes six days working, and though I too have a job, it doesn’t require (nor afford) me time away from home. Therefore, most of the child rearing falls on me.
So what do we do? We go to the park and my kids play while I work. Of course I keep an eye on them to ensure they aren’t breaking rules (or their legs). Otherwise, they run around freely and get virtually no attention from me. While they are playing, I take out my iPhone. I respond to emails. I update accounts. I check Twitter, Instagram, and the devil himself of social media, Facebook.
Apparently this is unacceptable. Article after article after article has come out against this. I’m damaging my kids, they say. They imply I’m not happy, and that I’m somehow doing a disservice by not watching and/or participating in every.single.thing my kids do.
When did letting our children run around without having our undivided attention become such a bad thing?
In this world of judgment from the hands-free mamas, do I get points for at least being there? I mean, what about all the poor children who have to spend all day at preschool, where their parents can’t even SEE what their kids are up to, much less interact with them? (That’s sarcasm, y’all…working mom friends, please don’t lash out at me on Facebook)
The hands free advocates ever so slightly (or sometimes blatantly) insinuate that we should respond to all the “Look Mom!” requests or we are not doing a good job mothering. I don’t know about your kids, but I could give my children 24/7 uninterrupted attention and it still wouldn’t be enough. They ask me to “come see” or have something to tell me every waking hour of every single day.
When I’m cleaning, “MOM!”
When I’m cooking, “MOM!! Come see!!”
When I’m showering, “MOM! He hit me!”
When I’m talking to one child, the other one, “MOMMMMMM!”
As a matter of fact, the most time I get without them vying for my attention is at the park or indoor play areas!
The moms who say that we are wrong for being on our phones, or even talking to other adults, you assume we always do this, but you don’t see the big picture. You know what you don’t see when you condemn a mom on her phone or a mom “ignoring” her children? You don’t see her reading to her children before bed, baking cookies with them on Saturdays, drawing with sidewalk chalk in the driveway, kissing their boo-boo’s, curling up and watching a movie with them, teaching them to play UNO, Monopoly, and every board game you can think of. You don’t see this. You see a glimpse of someone’s life, then determine you are doing it better.
When is it okay to ignore our children? When is it okay for me to get work done? When are my children allowed to play freely with one another? Because from what I have gleaned, such behavior is never acceptable. And by all means, if this is the kind of parent you want to be and love to be, ROCK ON. But don’t assume your way is the right/best/only way to parent.
As a work at home mom, do I get a pass to be on my iPhone at the park? I’d really like to know. If so, is it because I’m earning money? Does that somehow negate the fact that I am on my phone, ignoring my children? There’s no right answer here, because the answer is to mind your own business. Worry about you and your family, and stop making snap judgements and writing passive aggressive articles shaming those who do not engage in everything their children do. Your reality is not mine, and my priorities are not yours. That doesn’t make me wrong, it makes us different. I’m okay with being the mom who is “always” on her iPhone. That is all we can strive for – being okay with how we parent, not being better or more hands-on than other moms.