You’re there, but are you present?

(Today’s Author is Jenny from MWM Torquay)

Evening all.

As most of you know, I’m on my own with my children during the week while my husband works away. Those of you who know me well know that I hate it. I really, really hate it but it pays our mortgage and has allowed me to be stay-at-home mum for the first year of both my children’s lives and now to work very part time. On the whole I consider myself to be lucky. I’ve seen every ‘first’, been there for every illness and can always attend school events. It’s not for everyone as parenting is a very personal journey but it’s been right for me.

That said, I think it’s also really lonely at times, especially when you have very young children and this can be isolating. The hum-drum of the daily routine and evenings at home alone can be hard going. I’ve written before about the importance Social Media plays in my current situation. I find that it connects me to the outside world. I like to see what my friends are up to (although I’m seriously considering dumping my friend Sarah who is working for the summer sailing around the Greek islands!) I like to share the humour of @Manvsbaby and I’m in awe of @Brummymummyof2 and her mug obsession. I know it may sound a bit strange but it’s a connection to other adults and the outside world. At times my phone feels like my lifeline.

swimming

Then, the other day, I noticed something when I was at my daughter’s swimming lesson. She’s in a group of four children who splash about in a sauna-hot room once a week under the incredibly patient eye of the lovely Julie at Aquababes. As I looked about, I realised that nobody was actually watching their children. Everyone was on their phones.

Now I know nothing about these parents. Perhaps they’d been at work or parenting all day and were grateful for 30 minutes of peace and time to themselves. Perhaps, like me, they run businesses from their phones and were using the time to catch up with messages. Or perhaps they were just more interested on what was in the phone than what was in the pool.

I know you’re thinking I’m judging them but honestly I’m not, and here’s the cold, hard truth. I don’t get phone signal or wifi at the pool. I have tried. So instead I spend my time watching Isabelle work really hard, try new things, improve each week, enjoy herself and yes, get told off for faffing about too! She loves to get a ‘thumbs up’ from me or a smile of encouragement. I see her so much less now she’s at school all the time and it feels like quality time together.

However, it made me realise that at home I know I’m still guilty of a little too much phone distraction. Then the other day I came across this article:

phones
 Parents who constantly check mobile phones will raise children with short attention spans, study suggests

So, it’s probably going to be a mid-year resolution of mine to keep my non-urgent phone activity just for those quiet evenings in. I’m going to be a more present parent. I know from teaching my groups past and present that our best sessions are always when there’s a high level of interaction between the adults and the little ones. Funnily enough the best groups of all are when everyone’s adult interacts with everyone’s child. Turns out that children aren’t necessarily that picky about the adult attention they receive.

So, thanks to all the lovely enthusiastic grown-ups who come to all our sessions each week and support your children as they continue to grow and develop. The only phones I ever see are used to take a quick snap of the children enjoying music #instagrambaby #musicwithmummy #jollybabies . We’re so lucky at Music with Mummy to work alongside so many wonderful families who enjoy being present while they still can.

Jenny xx

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