Tag Archives: Parenting; Children; Home Life Balance

Why are you always on the phone?

My children haven’t actually asked this yet, but it’s just a matter of time and I dread it coming up. I will feel so awful if they ever think I’d rather spend time linking with other people – many of whom I don’t even know that well – than spending the precious time we have together. And so  – starting this half term – I’m making a pact with myself and with you….Maybe you’ll join me? Smart Phoners Anonymous?

I am going to control how much time I spend on my phone. And because it’s easy to get sucked in, I’m going to be quite legalistic about how I control this. So, on days when the children are with me, I won’t check Facebook, the Internet (unless direct and immediate need – i.e. how do we get where we’re going?) or email, or reply to any but essential text/calls (friends/family crisis) more than once during reasonable waking hours. On school days thereafter (told you was being legalistic) I won’t do the above between pick up and (reasonable) bedding down time.

Can you imagine how you’d feel if your children looked back on their childhood and had an abiding memory of you on the phone? Or making that dreadful repeated plea we sometimes get, “Will you play with me?”

I know, children need to learn that adults have tasks they need to do and can’t always play with them. (And you have my heart-felt sympathies if you’re juggling work and child care this holiday – this obviously can’t apply to you in the same way as those not.) Children do need to understand that adults have their own interests and needs. But to put Amazon browsing and passing on funnies on Facebook into the mix on top of cooking dinner and tidying up, is going to squeeze them out utterly unfairly. Obviously.

This small black rectangle I cling to as if it was my life, isn’t my life and it could damage it….and more importantly, the lives my children  – not perhaps through radiation anymore, but through how it affects our relationships. The pathetic part of it is that I’m not actually that bothered about doing things on my phone, it’s just become a habit….and it needs breaking. That’s why I’m starting Smart Phoners Anonymous.  This is a kind of addiction and it is destructive so let’s try and beat it together.1

Can you see where I’m coming from? Will you join me? Will you consider a pact? And maybe share with other friends? I think we’ll find our times with our children will be far calmer if they’re not fighting for attention with the extra child that is our ever-demanding phone!

If I don’t reply to your message within 8 hours, this blog is why….

Why do you always drink cold tea?

My Mummy-friends and I spent many years talking of how one day, when our kids were in school, we’d have…..wait for it…. a whole cup of hot tea. It was the symbol of spiritual wholeness almost – the point after which we’d realise we were an individual and not a bottom-wiping service. However, oddly enough, our youngest has hit Reception, and I still drink tepid tea…. and I hate it. I’ve come to the conclusion that many of us suffer from Tepid Tea Syndrome – the inability to manage our lives so that we can encounter tea as it’s meant to be.

Tepid Tea Syndrome

….or TTS – is really part of a bigger problem. And it’s not a ‘Mummy Problem’ and it’s not just about drinking a whole cup of tinglingly hot tea. It’s about your attitude towards yourself and the value you – in practice – place on focusing on things and completing them.

I’m not saying that I’m not good at getting things done and fitting things in and multi-tasking, but everything is done all at once in a great cloud of logistical smoke. It’s not that pleasant and it leaves you trying to get your breath, physically and emotionally.

I never walk anywhere without thinking about what I’m going to do as soon as my key goes into the front door. It goes something like this:

If I’m home by 915 I can put the washing out, clean last night’s casserole dish that I didn’t put in to soak, stick bleach in the loos and then by 925 I can start tonight’s meal and have it cooking while I clear up the lego before tonight’s play date………Oh good, there’s loads of time before the playgroup I’m volunteering with starts at 10.”

Crazy. And so I’m frazzled – although I don’t count it as such – before I’ve even got home. What a waste. It could have been wonderful walk, connecting with people, nature, history,……but it’s wasted time, all because of TTS. (And how many tepid cups of tea will I have half drunk by lunchtime? I wont have enjoyed one.)

What is Life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare,

No time to stand beneath the boughs.

And stare as long as sheep or cows  (Leisure, William Henry Davies)

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A poem that’s ended up in the Clinton’s cliché charts, but that sort of gets to the heart of it. I don’t actually want to stare, but I want to experience each part of my day without always planning the next ones. It devalues what I’m doing in the meantime and that sort of devalues me.

The Next Thing is the Next Thing

3So, even if you’re a Mum with small kids…..even if on one day a month you have to put them in front of the TV, check there’s no sharp objects in the room…leave the room, sit on the hall floor if necessary, and drink one whole cup of hot tea – DO IT!  As that dreadful advert would say...”Because you’re worth it!” In taking that time out, you are saying,“I need this time”. And it is important our kids, and all those making demands on our time, realise that we have our own needs….including an occasional HOT cup  MUG of tea.

So, are you a victim of TTS? It’s good to talk? How does it affect you?

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