My son is already into devices. He knows when I’m looking at the iPad, or our phones, or the computer. He’s utterly fascinated with them. And while I have heard some people say they want their kids to use technology early so they won’t be “behind,” my mommy instinct says to keep them away. Not sure why – screens are bad and cause ADD? No TV before two? – but in any case, I seem to have failed to do that. I think that’s because I am fascinated by them too…or dare I say addicted? And I’m worried it’s making me a distracted parent.
When I’m playing with LM, or watching him play, I feel the constant urge to be “doing” something. Apparently playing with my child is not enough. My mind starts wandering. It’s been an hour since I looked at Facebook. Maybe I should see how the site stats on my blog are doing. I should definitely check email to make sure my editor isn’t trying to get ahold of me. So I casually pull out the phone…maybe LM won’t notice. I prop it on my leg, hidden from his view. But somehow he knows. It’s like he can sense it. So he stops what he’s doing and comes to me. He stares at the phone and smiles. He wants it. So I reluctantly put it away.
It’s not just technology’s fault. Technology has just made it easier. My mind is really too blame. I’m constantly making mental lists of things I need or want to do. I find myself biding my time until LM takes a nap, when really, shouldn’t I be enjoying the time I have with him, focusing on him, not waiting until he conks out to feel like I’m living my life? Stop thinking, I tell myself. Stop trying to multitask. Be mindful. Be present. He is only going to be a baby for a very short time.
But it can be isolating being a stay-at-home mom, so another aspect of distracting parenting for me is to feel connected. Hence the need to check social media a million times a day. I connect with a lot of moms in the Facebook groups I’m a part of, and sometimes I think they help me keep my sanity. We discuss our kids, things going on in the world, books, movies, you know, adult topics that I don’t get to talk about all day with a one-year-old. Maybe I just get a little, well, bored sometimes.
I hate that I missed his first year in a mommy fog of sleep deprivation. So why I can’t I just pay attention to him – real, undivided attention? If I don’t, I’m going to miss his second year too. And eventually, he may pick up on my multitasking mindset and think he’s not enough. And yet sometimes I think that what I’m doing isn’t enough, that I need to worry about advancing my freelance career, or writing this blog, or paying bills, or cleaning the house. If I don’t get those things done in a day, I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything…except raising our son. And shouldn’t that be the most important task of all?
Do you admit to distracting parenting too? How do you try to avoid it?