BLOG: The post that made me feel a little bit sick.

“Mum, can you push us? PLEEEAAASSE!”


It’s a well documented fact that I dislike going to the park. There is a good reason for this: I am an adult. Playgrounds are not designed for adults. If they were, they would be called Westfield.

I will do almost anything to avoid going to a park, including buying a trampoline (more about that shortly) however, when I am at the park, my phone is usually in my hand.

This is because my phone is always in my hand but also because – let’s be honest – parks are boring if you are older than, say, 10.

So it was with a slight reflective pang, followed by some guilt-induced anger and self-rightioussness that I read the following open letter on the blog 4 Little Fergusons today:

Dear Mom On the iPhone,

I see you over there on the bench, messing on your iPhone.  It feels good to relax a little while your kids have fun in the sunshine, doesn’t it?  You are doing a great job with your kids, you work hard, you teach them manners, have them do their chores.

But Momma, let me tell you what you don’t see right now…..

Your little girl is spinning round and round, making her dress twirl.  She is such a little beauty queen already, the sun shining behind her hair.  She keeps glancing your way to see if you are watching her.

You aren’t.

Gulp. No I’m not.

[you can read the rest of the letter here]

The online reaction to author Tonya’s letter was – wait, you’ll be shocked –  swift and brutal, with mothers furiously typing away on their phones in playgrounds around the western world, defending their actions.

But do they really need defending? In fairness, the author of the letter, Tonya quickly added this postscript:

“This blog post is written for me, too!  It could just as easily say Dear Mommy on the Computer, because I also struggle to find balance between needing a break, and knowing when its time to walk away from the computer to be Mommy again. So, I try to limit it to nap time and after the children are in bed. I am just asking for us to be aware of how this media time can overflow into our face to face time with our family and those around us.”

As we publish this post, Tonya is in witness protection.

Just kidding. Sort of.

Like many who read this open letter, I felt a deep prickle of recognition. Whether at the park or not, I’ve often had my time and attention sucked up by my phone  and I can NEVER shake the fear that I’m missing out on my kids.  Decades from now, will anyone lie on their deathbed and say “I wish I spent more time checking my phone”?

Do you struggle with this? I struggle. I struggle to be present and ‘not miss a moment’ of my kids but like I’ve said before, it can be difficult impossible to be completely engaged with your kids every moment. And even if you could – would that be good for them?

Tonya makes a valid point but as anyone with a child will tell you, there are vast chunks of time (especially if you are home full-time) that are boring and repetitive. That’s OK – not every moment of our lives have to be exciting or fascinating – but it’s worth admitting.


I know that for many years I felt like a failure because I wasn’t intellectually fulfilled by playing dress ups or pushing my child on a swing. I did those things because I could see that they gave my children joy and that’s what you do for those you love, but it was only ever in a confessional, guilty sense that I ever admitted that……sometimes parenting is boring.

And surely we need to be able to say that? Parts of work are boring. Parts of being married are boring. Parts of being single are boring. Parts of LIFE are boring.

And if a little bit of mental distraction on your phone helps pass the time, is that such a shocker? So long as your kids are safe, is looking away something to feel guilty about?

Not to mention the fact that I have always felt that paying your child constant constant attention isn’t good for either of you.

Kids need to learn to do things without an audience (so do big kids who insist on posting every moment of their lives to social media) and parents need to give their kids some space to develop independence and self-sufficiency. Which is why, when I bought my kids a trampoline, thinking this will enable them to have hours of happy, independent exercise, I was crushed when they inevitably began to demand I watch them. Jumping.

Have you ever watched a kid jump on a trampoline? You kind of get the picture after 10 seconds and then it’s pretty much the SAME FOR EVER. Up and down. Up and down. Up and down.

Jill Smokler from blog Scary Mommy responded to the criticism of mums on iPhones like this:

Well, I am that mother at the park on her iPhone, thank you very much. I’m the one who gets scowled at and pointed to and written about.

Sometimes it’s the park, others it’s an indoor playzone or maybe it’s a birthday party. If I’m out with my kids, and they are entertained, it’s not uncommon that my iPhone is entertaining me. But that fact doesn’t make me a bad mom. In fact, I’d argue that it helps make me a better one.

Checking in on Twitter or Facebook allows me to collect myself and maintain a sense of humor about things that might otherwise set me off.

It’s kind of the social media immersed mother’s version of a long drag on a cigarette. It helps ground me and gain perspective. The permanent marker covered Evan a few years ago would have been far more upsetting than amusing were it not for the ensuing hilarity in Facebook comments.

Having my friends and community a simple click away is a much needed break at the very least, and a near lifesaver at the most.

As for me, my favourite thing to do is hang out with my kids, chat with them. But if we’re at the park? I will probably be the one on my phone. Possibly even banging out a post like this.

What’s the most boring part of parenting?

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