Don’t judge me for being a mum on her iPhone

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These last few days, I’ve been seeing stories shared around social media about how much damage parents are doing to their children because they are neglecting them in favour of their smart phones. The latest research says that teachers are finding increasing numbers of children are not ready for school because their parents are ignoring them to spend time on electronic devices.

And while I don’t doubt that this is true in a minority of cases, I imagine issues of neglect are generally way more complicated and deeper-rooted than an addiction to Facebook mobile.

What I object to, however, is that yet again, the majority of parents – who are doing an amazing job of bringing up their kids – are being made to feel like rubbish parents by sensational newspaper headlines simply for daring to have a few moments in their day which aren’t all about their children.

I am quite happy to admit I check my mobile phone in my children’s presence. To make it crystal clear before I get trolled, I’m not ignoring my kids and letting them fend for themselves all day long while I like pictures of cute kittens on Instagram. We are talking the odd few minutes at various intervals throughout the day – the same as most normal parents. Because, like it or not, mobiles are a way of life these days.

Maybe I’m texting Cardiff Daddy to ask him to pick up some milk and bread on the way home from work because it’s easier for him to do it than for me to have to take three kids to the shops. Or maybe I’m sending a photo of what our children have been up to that day to him, because I know how much he misses them while he’s at work. Maybe I’m responding to an urgent work email or accepting a commission from a client before they start looking for someone else. The joys of self-employment. Maybe I’m arranging play dates for my children. Or maybe I’m adding a few items to my online grocery shop because I’d rather go to the park with my kids than drag them round the supermarket.

Or maybe, just maybe, I’m messaging my friends about nothing in particular or browsing random crap on Facebook. Because, despite feeling very lucky to spend all day every day with my children, there are moments when I desperately need a little more stimulation than singing the same nursery rhyme 11 times in a row and pushing around toy trains and cars.

I don’t need to be shamed into thinking that makes me a bad mum by people who don’t know me – and neither do most of the other mums and dads I know. Because they are doing an amazing job of raising their little ones, smart phones and all.

Despite the media perception that motherhood is all three-hour coffee shop dates with friends, for many, it can be really lonely.

I consider myself lucky that I have lots of friends with children, but I’ve written on my blog before about how I can go a couple of days without a significant adult conversation with anyone other than my husband. If he’s home late from work or out in the evening, there are days when I might not have a significant child-free conversation with him either. And it can be tough.

My phone is my contact with the real world. Sometimes it’s the only chance I get that day to connect with people who won’t scream and shout at me because I gave them their lunch on the wrong colour plate.

It was a lifeline during the early days with each of my babies, keeping me company during the never-ending night feeds, allowing me to ask friends if what my baby was doing was normal, not to mention giving me the focus to stay awake when I hadn’t slept for more than two hours straight for weeks on end.

Indeed, I wrote about that in detail a few months ago when we had all that ridiculous talk of ‘brexting’, where mums were being shamed for checking their phones while feeding their babies, rather than staring at the side of their baby’s head for several hours a day, every day for several months.

There have been times when I’ve been at soft play or the park and I’ve been on my phone while my kids are off playing, and I’ve felt like someone is staring at me, silently judging me. I have friends who have been tutted at or even been told to put their phones away.

What these judgey people see is a snapshot of five minutes of my day. They haven’t seen me reading books to my children for almost an hour beforehand in the library. They haven’t seen me helping them colour and paint. They haven’t seen me sat on a cold floor singing songs and shaking brightly coloured plastic maracas. They haven’t seen me and my kids splashing through puddles or climbing trees. Or singing along at the top of our voices to Queen and The Beatles in the car. They don’t know that I’ve been dealing with a morning-full of tantrums or kids fighting, and I just want to feel like ‘me’ for a few moments. They don’t know that I do the majority of my work in the evenings so I can spend every day with my children.

Would they be so judgemental if I was talking to another mum, rather than being on my phone? Or reading a newspaper?

My children (along with my husband) are the most important things in my life. But I want my little ones to understand that they won’t always be the centre of everyone’s universe. (Aren’t we always being told how ‘entitled’ this generation of youngsters act?’) Sometimes Mummy, and indeed other people, need to do things that mean they need to wait a moment, or mean that they cannot have that person’s undivided attention.

Just to be crystal clear once again, I am in no way condoning neglecting your children for hours on end in favour of smart phones. Or neglecting them full stop, for that matter. But being made to wait for 30 seconds while I finish a text every once in a while isn’t going to harm them.

I am definitely not the mum missing her child’s milestones because I’m too busy liking random memes on Facebook. But I am the mum who is more than just a mum.

I am the mum who loves her children more than I ever thought it was possible to love anyone. But I am also the mum who sometimes needs a little more in her day. And sometimes my phone is the closest thing I have to bring me that.

I’d love to know what you think. Do let me know in the comments section below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page or by tweeting me on @cardiffmummy

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17 Comments to Don’t judge me for being a mum on her iPhone

  1. This is such a refreshing read. I always feel judged if I glance at my phone in public. Like you, I need to check it for work and to keep me sane. It’s not a crime! Parents can’t win. We’re always doing something wrong.

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Yes, exactly! Every week there’s a new headline bashing parents, mums in particular. It’s hard enough being a parent as it is without the constant shaming headlines. x

  2. Agreed !!!’ I feel like parents are now being ofstedded or assessed on how much they do with their kids. If we take the mobile phone, it’s not just a phone is it??? It’s a camera, it’s a MP3 player, it’s a video camera, it’s the newspaper, it’s a book, it’s a games console, it’s a computer, it’s an address book, it’s a clock, it’s a torch, it’s a diary, it’s a shopping list, it’s a shop, it’s a tv, it’s a telephone call, it’s soooo much more than a phone.

    So let’s go back to when we were kids, I remember being shushed when my parents were on the phone, sending a fax, reading a paper… In fact reading the papers was a huge thing in my household and I would be given my Lego whilst the papers were read, as for when Countdown was on TV- I had to find something to do as God help me if I tried to join in lol…

    Seriously we are all wayyyy too judged.

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Yes, you are completely right. If I was paying in a cheque in the bank, I would expect my kids to wait patiently. So if I’m transferring money online, then to me it’s the same thing. Our phones do so much these days – enabling is to spend more time with our kids, ie, not having to queue at the bank or do the supermarket shop because we can do it all online. Let people just judge on a snapshot of our live.

  3. Love this post! I’m always on my phone as I’m walking as its the best time to check emails. Otherwise I’d be ignoring my son at home. I put mine down at home so he had my undivided attention but as I work from home for chucks of the day I have to grab little snippets of available time when I’m out & it doesn’t effect him.

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Glad you could relate. With more and more parents working from home and flexibly around their kids, we do find ourselves needing to check in on work when our kids are around on our phones. People shouldn’t judge when they don’t know the full situation. x

  4. It is my absolute pet hate, people who judge other people they don’t know (mainly parents) based on the 30 second snapshot they see of that parent’s day. You’ve got it absolutely spot on.

  5. laurasidestreet

    As always an amazing post Cath – I really hate how parents shame other parents, life is different now for everyone than it was year back and I also check my phone in my children presence but it’s usually to check the time, or to see if I have missed a call but my main focus is always on the kids – parents are great at multi-tasking, something we should celebrate

    Laura x

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Absolutely! Yes, we parents are great at multi-tasking and the pace and pressures of modern life, plus more parents working flexibly around their children, mean there will be times when we need to check our phones when our kids are about. We shouldn’t be judged. x

  6. This is such a good post. Well written and echoing the thoughts of all of us. People are so quick to critisise us when they have no idea what we’re doing. Plus like you say who cares if for 2 minutes whilst your children are happy (and not being ignored) that you browse the Internet or pop on Facebook. X

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      Thanks Kerry, glad it resonated with you. Our phones do so much these days, we can do the food shopping, pay bills, book day trips… all things you would expect your child to wait quietly if you were doing it in the traditional way. Strangers have no right to judge. x

  7. Well said Cathryn! I love this post, it is so well written and I agree with everything you have said. People are far too judgemental and happy to tar everyone with the same brush.
    When I get on a bus with Aria I often sit down behind the pushchair and catch up on things on my phone while I have five minutes, I always feel like people are judging me for being on my phone and not staring at my daughter who is having far too much fun talking to all the strangers on the bus!
    I have no idea whether or not people are actually judging me, but you see so much of it you can’t help but be paranoid!

  8. Food for thought…thanks for opening my eyes, I do agree and also (being may be too honest) have been the judging parent. Perhaps now I won’t? The only part I disagree with is that your phone ‘puts you in contact with the real world’, I’d say the little people are more real.

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