When Foggy Daddy and I used to take trips pre-kid, I had a strict no-internet policy. In fact, we purposefully picked hotels without television or wireless in the room. After all, we were going on vacation to get away, to “vacate” from our life. It made sense to unplug in order to reconnect with each other. No outside contact required.
Now, it seems harder to do that. Something about having a kid makes vacation seem less about “vacating” and more about creating fun times for our child. We are not on a romantic escape, and as it often is with a baby, vacation doesn’t even feel like we’re relaxing. Plus, along with each kid-friendly activity come ready-made photo opps, perfect for Facebook posting. It almost seems like they’re a requirement (after all, if it’s not on FB, it didn’t really happen, right? I kid).
But you could also argue that it’s even more important to unplug during family vacations than couples’ retreats. Shouldn’t our time away be about bonding together, without the distractions that devices provide? FD doesn’t agree – for him, part of salvaging any sense of relaxation is playing video games on his iPad. He’d be loathe to give them up.
I have mixed feelings about it. As a blogger, I feel that I need to remain connected. I need to know what’s happening in the mom-iverse. But if I consider blogging part of my “job,” shouldn’t I take time off while on vacation, the way I would from any other “real” job? Shouldn’t I unwind without the need to know what’s going on outside our little familial unit?
I also think it’s important to take a break from technology for LM’s sake. Even though I tried my best to adhere to the “no screen time before two” recommendation, I caved since he’s almost two and let him watch Peppa Pig. But now, anytime FD or I take out our phone or iPad, we are met with a “Peppa? Peppa?” request. He’s learning young.
Tonight we are leaving for vacation to my aunt and uncle’s lake house in rural Virginia. I’m debating how much I want to be plugged in while we are there. In many ways I think I need a Facebook break – I’m worried that I’ve become a bit addicted to it. Maybe I should try to remember what it’s like to actually talk to people, as opposed to sitting around in a room while everyone is on their respective devices. Of course, this would require everyone else to agree, otherwise I’ll be staring into space while the others are glued to their screens.
What say you, FD and family (and Foggy Mommy readers)? Are you prepared to give up technology for the July Fourth holiday?
(So readers, I’m going to do my best to unplug during vacation. This will mean no Foggy Mommy until next week. Happy Fourth!)
Hold on a sec, baby, just let me finish reading this… I know you’re crying, I’ll pick you up in a minute…
I’ve said these things to my poor child. Why? Because I’ve been on Facebook. I’ve admitted before to sometimes being a distracted parent, and I fear it’s only getting worse. Now that LM is 16 months and is more aware of what’s going on around him (there’s no fooling him anymore), I’m worried that he sees me constantly glued to my iPhone, watching it instead of him. By doing so, am I telling him that it’s more important than he is?
Apparently, Facebook is no longer “cool” among young people. They use other social networking sites, most of which I’ve probably never heard of. Facebook has been taken over my moms (and dads), who’ve filled it with nothing but pictures of their kids. And I guess that’s OK, considering that, well, I am a mom. I like having a place to go to connect with other moms. In addition to my regular FB friends, I’m also a part of several – OK, more than several – mom groups. There are no less than six post-infertility groups I’m part of, plus a local county group, a breastfeeding group, and one for my real-life mom group (this is the only group in which I’ve actually met all the members in the flesh). It’s a lot to keep track of.
But I like reading parenting information and tips, discussing parenting issues, and getting ideas for blog posts. As a stay/work at home mom, it gives me some sense of connected-ness that I don’t always have while at home alone with LM. But, I wonder if it’s taking up too much of my time, if I need to designate certain times as Facebook-free so that I can focus on LM.
The other people around LM are just as bad as me. Foggy Daddy is obsessed with his iPad (he’s usually playing a game on it), and Grandpa is attached to his as well (usually reading a news website). I worry that when LM looks around all he sees is us glued to our individual screens.
Sometimes I try just putting down the f-ing phone and paying attention to my kid. But then he starts playing nicely, by himself, and I’m just sitting there. My mind wanders. I wonder if anyone’s posted anything on Facebook, I think to myself. And so I take a peek. And a peek turns into 15 minutes of me reading linked articles and responding to the latest controversy over car seat installation. And then LM sees me and starts whining for my attention.
Hold on, just let me finish reading this…
There’s also the feeling that, looking at everyone’s kids in all the Facebook photo opps one needs to do these days, everyone’s life is better than yours. Which is complete BS, because I could post a ton of photos that make my life look fantastic – not that it’s not, but there is more going on than meets the eye in my newsfeed. I find myself comparing my life to others’, and too often it makes me feel bad. So-and-so is going to the gym. So should I. So-and-so is on vacation. I wish I was. So-and-so is going out to dinner. I’m still in my sweatpants.
This is my fault, not Facebook’s. My confidence is just not helped by social media, where it is oh-too-easy to make it look like your life is fabulous. Much self-promotion happens on Facebook.
But still I can’t turn away. It’s an outlet that I don’t want to give up, but I do want to learn how to balance it better, if not for my own sake then for LM’s.
Do you feel like you spend too much time on Facebook? How do you curb your habit?
After my Huffington Post piece about how I don’t plan to introduce the concept of Santa to my son, I received a lot of feedback thanking me for going against the grain of what’s “expected” for your kids at Christmas. I’ve also read a lot of other articles, and heard from other moms in my FB groups, about the pressure they feel Elf on the Shelf puts on them. Coming up with new and exciting poses for a creepy elf doll every night? No thank you!
But this got me wondering: We talk about the peer pressure that kids face, but is there a sort of peer pressure for parents as well? As if you need to follow certain trends, or just “the way things are done,” and if you don’t, you – or worse, your kid – will be ostracized?
This worries me, because in many ways I don’t feel like I’m the “typical” parent. I don’t follow all the rules, Santa being one of them. For all the positive messages I got from secret Santa-haters (people who secretly hate Santa, not people who hate participating in secret Santas), I bet there were a lot of other moms who thought I was downright weird for not including him in my child’s Christmas celebrations. Maybe this explains why the piece itself got ten thousand likes, but when I posted it on my own Facebook page it got a grand total of…three.
Because of my past experience with struggling to have a child, I still sometimes feel like I’m on the outside looking in. So things that might seem to other moms who fell into motherhood easily to be just the way things are done, don’t seem that way to me. I already feel like I’m an outsider, like I’m different, that that is all strange and new. So I just don’t “get” many parenting trends.
I blame Pinterest for a lot of it. Like Martha Stewart‘s magazine, looking at all the cute and crafty ideas for everything from birthday party decorations to desserts to Elf on the Shelf setups has the (unintended?) consequence of feeling that you need to aspire to do them; and that if you don’t, well, you’re just not as crafty or smart or involved as the moms who do. I love looking at that stuff, I admit it. But I do feel inadequate afterwards, because I know I don’t even have it in me to attempt any of it. It just exacerbates my mom guilt.
And it’s not just about making things. It’s also about what family activities you do, what traditions you have, what social expectations exist for us as parents. And a lot of that is fueled by social media. For example, I never did the monthly sticker pictures – every month in the first year of your child’s life you put a sticker on his onesie and take a picture (and, even more importantly, post it on Facebook). Although, I admit that I did do the ubiquitous smash cake for LM’s first birthday. Other items to check off your family Facebook to-do list: Taking a hayride to a pumpkin patch in the fall. Getting professional holiday photos done. Sitting on Santa’s lap. Everything is a photo opp, and though I love taking pictures, I hate that there has become a social expectation that you will have certain photos for every season, and you will dutifully post them on FB just like everyone else.
Does this mean that I’m a secret non-conformist?
I’m sure it will only get worse when my son starts school. At holiday time, maybe he’ll come home asking why we don’t have an elf, or why he doesn’t get gifts from Santa. Or he’ll ruin Santa for kids who do believe, the way I outed St. Nick to my first-grade class, and then all the other moms will hate me.
I don’t know how I will handle that when it happens. For now, I’m still working on not comparing myself to other moms or my son to other kids. I’m trying to make peace with being a mom who’s, well, maybe a little lazier than others; or maybe one who just puts more emphasis on different things. Maybe there are other kid-related activities I would rather spend my time doing instead of coming up with 30 ways to position an elf. So maybe our family will have other traditions that aren’t the norm.
The interesting thing is, I don’t know any actual moms who make me feel peer pressured (yet, anyway). But somehow the inertia of Facebook and Pinterest put forth the idea that there are all of these “things” I need to do in order to be a good mom. I’m tired of holding myself to some impossible, cookie-cutter standard that probably doesn’t really exist anyway. I just don’t have the time, or the energy, or the inclination.
Do you feel parental peer pressure? Do you think it comes from social media, or other moms, or both?