By Marlena Rice
My nearly two-year-old son, Beaux William, tends to wake up with demands on Saturday and Sunday mornings. His first words to me will either be “juice” or “milk,” or, if I awake to a pair of his tennis shoes on my face, I know that immediately after milk, juice and breakfast, there will be a walk, a wagon ride, or a trip to the playground in our near, early-morning future.
One morning, I noticed something just a little bit different. After our typical exchange of baby demands (and Mommy accepting and meeting said demands), my little man handed me my glasses – and my cell phone. As I thanked him, I immediately began the internal parenting skills debate all mothers have: Have I done something wrong? Have I ignored him too many times in lieu of a cell phone conversation? No. But it’s easy to question these things. Our little people are impressionable and, as their first teachers, we teach them some of their most important lessons.
Since that moment, I’ve made more of an effort to make sure that my social media posts, text messages and calls are kept to a minimum during family time. And I’ve also taken note of what other parents are doing, sometimes with great dismay. One recent morning, I watched as a father took his child out of the backseat of his car – a normal thing to see. What was unnerving, was that the father was talking not to his child, but into an ear device that seemed to be attached to an even larger device protruding from his pants pocket.
Today’s new generation of parents are extreme multitaskers who thrive in a fast-paced, online-centered and social media-driven world that our parents didn’t have. Our time is limited, and in an attempt to live “full” and do all of the things we aspire to do, we do it all at once. We go to work and work, talk with old friends on Facebook messenger on our smartphones all while watching, responding and fielding texts from our children’s teachers as they notify us about school things. And let me tell you, it is exhausting.
Cleary, this is a problem. What’s the solution?
Here are some tips on how to multitask and stream your two lives together – and I’ll keep it brief, since we’re all busy enough!
Start rebuilding “old-fashioned” relationships
The next time you think about beginning a stream of social media conversations with your friends, ask them to meet you for lunch. It will save you some email time, and you can have an interaction with another human being that isn’t family or work-related.
Limit your time on social media
If you’re addicted to reading Facebook posts about what your friends are going through in their daily lives (minute by minute), let it be something you only do during your alone time: on your lunch break or right before bed.
Incorporate your children in your online expeditions
If you like to shop online, let your children shop with you for some of their items and you will kill two birds with one stone; spending time with your babies while getting your shopping fix! Also, if you like to listen to music, juice up your iPod or cell phone and play it for everyone. Move furniture around if you have to, but DANCE! Little ones love this because not only does it shake away any and all structure for a few minutes but its good exercise, and it’s fun.
Maximize your car rides
When you have little people, driving them around is a great way to make them listen to you. The next time you’re headed to the grocery store, or school and work, sing together, ask questions and just talk without worrying about making that telephone call or checking that email. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn, and how many laughs can come of it.
Turn it off
This is hard for some of us because our work is not the typical 8-5 but is more like the typical 24/7. But, if you have the opportunity to turn off your device without worry that you’ll miss something more important than the people you love, turn it off, enjoy the internet silence and make noise with the people in your life instead.
Photo: Marlena Rice