Do I spend too much time on my phone? Ya, I’m pretty dependent on my iCub. (Yes, that is my iPhone 6+’s name.) When it comes to moms and their screen time, much ink has been spilled about how we’re not present with our children, how we are distracted, how we spend too much time trying to capture the moment instead of being in the moment. I doubt there’s a mother out there who hasn’t felt guilty glancing down at her phone while her child is nearby. I think we can all benefit from deliberately setting aside screen-free time, but I am also keenly aware of the how my smart phone is making me a better mom on a daily basis.
A better mom how, you might ask? Well, we all agree that you cannot pour from an empty cup. I am a better mom—more patient, more generous, more cheerful—when I feel supported, fulfilled and intellectually stimulated.
So how does my phone help me keep my proverbial cup filled?
Podcasts. Caring for children all day is mentally taxing, there’s no doubt about it. It is not, however, intellectually stimulating. Before I had children, I was a teacher. Learning is at the core of my being. I used to do my learning via books and discussions with my colleagues. Now that I spend my day with someone who calls the kitchen the “chicken” and it takes me half a year to get through a book, I’ve turned to podcasts to fulfill my appetite for brain food.
Streaming podcasts on my phone means I can listen wherever we are in the house. If Cub isn’t watching a show in the same room as me, chances are we are listening to a podcast or to CBC Radio. Sometimes, my favourite podcast or radio hosts are the only other adult voices I hear all day! It’s true that I can rarely give a podcast my undivided attention, but even having one on in the background really brings me a lot of enjoyment even when doing my least-favourite stay-at-home mom tasks. I tend to listen to the true crime podcasts when nursing Little Miss Cub to sleep.
My current favourite podcasts:
Reply All (This one is all about the Internet, so, pretty appropriate!)
Hidden Brain (Psychology! Yay!)
Serial (If your kids listen along with you, this has to be an after-hours podcast, and it’s addictive! Season 1 was the most listened to podcast ever, if I’m not mistaken.)
The Allusionist (All about words! Grammar! Words! Grammar!)
Invisibilia (This short series left me desperate for more episodes. It’s about things we cannot see… and it was so fascinating.)
RadioLab (About… everything?!)
iMessage. Not a day goes by when I do not text back and forth with my Mom friends. One of the hardest things about stay-at-home motherhood is the isolation. There are days when I do not see another adult (maybe the mailman…). Commiseration. Empathy. Affirmation. That’s what my messages with my Mom friends bring me every day.
My husband doesn’t get this. He doesn’t understand why we don’t just set up a phone date rather than texting back and forth sporadically throughout the day (and night). I haven’t had a phone date in a long time. For one thing, the time zones between BC and Quebec, where most of my friends are, makes this a bit tricky. But even chatting with my local Mom friends happens via text or Facebook messenger. The thing my husband fails to understand is that finding a chunk of time, totally uninterrupted by children, to chat about the mundane details of our lives is a luxury we left behind when we had babies. My girlfriends and I text each other because we know that we will each respond when we have a spare moment. The likelihood of us having a spare moment at the same time, between driving, children’s activities, naps, diaper changes, mealtime and sleeping are slim to none.
Also, due to Mommy Brain, if I think of something I need to tell one of my Mom friends, I’d better fire off that text right away, otherwise I’ll never remember!
Face Time. Lonely. It’s really weird to pretty much never be alone (not to shower, not to poop, not to sleep) yet find yourself feeling lonely. In particular, it happens when my husband is away for work and it’s just me and the kids. The best cure for loneliness when we don’t have a play date on the books is to Face Time with my parents or my brother and his wife.
Not only does it mean my son knows my family despite not living close to them, but it is also really fun! At times it even gives me a spare moment to prep dinner or go pee: Cub gets pretty involved in showing his toys off to his uncle and Little Miss Cub gets a pretty serious case of the giggles when my parents are making faces at her.
Blogging. When I went on maternity leave with my first, I didn’t have any intention of starting a blog. I envisioned Momming, all day, every day, full time. Heck, I looked forward to no more professional responsibilities, no more commuting, no more deadlines to meet or bosses to please. Little did I know that by month two of motherhood, I missed the creative outlet of teaching. My blog started 100% as a hobby, and while it is now my work-at-home-Mom business, it still fulfills my need to pursue something that is mine, something that I do outside of taking care of our home and our children. I’m pretty sure every healthy, well-adjusted Mom (whether she’s at home or working outside the home) has a pursuit that is HER dream. If I wasn’t using all of my spare moments to blog, I’d likely be doing something else. (Knitting! I miss knitting!)
Being able to do a huge chunk of my blog-related business directly on my phone means I’m not tied to a desk all day. And because my blog is directly related to motherhood, I feel like I’ve found a way to almost strike the perfect balance between Mommy Lindsay and Career Lindsay. The 16,000 and rising fans that follow my Facebook page remind me every day that I’m not crazy, and there’s actually nothing wrong with my kid: he’s just three years old.
Offline time is important, too! Is it important for me to unplug, to turn off the smart phone for parts of my day? Of course. It takes more willpower than I possess to not check my phone if it’s near me, so I will make a conscious decision to leave it behind or tuck it away. That said, I think Moms get a lot of grief for being on their phones, and people either don’t realize or don’t acknowledge to what extent this pocket-sized technology can contribute to our well being.