not now, darling

There’s an article in the Daily Mail today which is all about mothers using the internet, called Not Now Darling, Mummy’s Tweeting.

The Daily Mail is not my newspaper of choice, I would point out at this point. But never mind. I happen to be friends with Liz Fraser, writer of the piece. We, er, met via Twitter. In the article, she muses on whether we’re spending so much time online that our children see more of the backs of our heads (or the fronts of our laptops) than they do our faces.

Guilty as charged. I spend far too much time online. Time I could use for writing, but instead I’m on twitter or on the blog’s facebook page or catching up with the important job of reading about writing. Just last night I was so busy readingΒ Lottie Loves and new favourite Small and Chic in C-ville that I let the ten year old make toast and chocolate spread for everyone and they had it for dinner whilst watching television and playing on the iPad/iPhone/Nintendo DS/PSP. Yes, they’re all pretty nerdy too. They are also fab at music, art, science, all have advanced reading ages and yes, my just-4 year old can read (there’s a Tiger Mother in me somewhere, but I keep her caged most of the time). Not bad for children being brought up by a mother who spends most of her time with half an eye on the laptop.

I think there is a balance to be found, and I’m still not sure I’ve found it. I know I’m guilty of ‘not now darling’, but at the same time I know that the internet, twitter, Facebook and blogging can be a sanity saver, especially in the lonely early days with little ones. What do you think? Is the Daily Mail right? (now there’s a phrase I never thought I’d write!)

Comments

  1. I think, like you say, it’s all about the balance, and it’s one thing that most of us struggle with. I’m terrible for “just a minute sweetheart” if I’m finishing off a reply. >_<

  2. No it isn’t right and I actually feel saddened that Liz has chosen to write this piece which only reinforces the Fail’s 19th century view of motherhood and women.

  3. Do you know what. I dont care! I dont care what people think of me. I know I am a good mum nad I put my boys first. So fingers in the ears and Na na nanana

  4. I think LivingwithKids is right. Women spend way too much energy beating themselves up, questioning their choices and having opinions on other women’s choices – and the Fail is guilty of trying to reinforce a whole bunch of terribly judgemental attitudes (I look forward to the piece on men watching too much TV and ignoring their kids).

    Bet your kids have an absolute ball and are fabulous!

  5. I know you are too, Jen. My point is I don’t think I am. I think perhaps I need to learn to put the laptop down when the children get home from school and focus on them. I’m going to give it a whirl.

  6. I don’t read the Mail because – well, I could start going into the reasons why, but I’d be ranting for a good few hours. And yes, I take on board what you’re saying about gender bias and motherhood, and the Mail’s attitude to women which is hideous. But it struck a chord with me, probably because I know I spend too much time online saying ‘in a minute’ to my children.

  7. Yes, that’s exactly what I think. I think on the whole the internet is a wonderful resource for parents, but it can be so absorbing that it’s hard to tear yourself away.

  8. Hrmm. They are rather lovely, yes. I may be slightly biased though.

    What fascinates me about this is that I didn’t read the piece as being about *mothers* but about parents – probably because I am very fortunate in having a very balanced, equal relationship with a man who is more domesticated than me. But we are *both* guilty of ‘hrrmmm? yes dear’ because we’re online.

  9. I’m often likely to be heard saying ‘just one more minute’, ‘in a minute’, or ‘I’ll be with you in a second’ when I’m in blog/email/Facebook land. I am guilty of spending too much time online and annoying my husband but I’m also aware of the time I’m spending and am trying to limit it.

    But it seems like awareness of the situation has been blown out of perspective. How many other mothers/wives are spent with their heads in the tv or on the phone to friends? I even find crafting so absorbing that I can’t bear to drag myself away…but I don’t think they’ll be writing that in the Daily Mail any time soon! x

  10. I am also guilty of being an “in a minute mother” and I worry I see more of my laptop screen than my children’s faces but I am with them 24/7 so I guess they see as much of me as any other child. But I worry I’ll regret it later, when I’ve got a blog full of things they did and I can remember writing it better than doing the things.

    But… my children have 80% of their best friends and most nurturing adults via the internet and most of their great holidays and days out because of it. So……

    Who am I kidding? I better go see them… in a minute.

  11. Wow, am totally bowled over by the number of women who are seeing this as a criticism of women! It was meant as a supportive, empathetic piece, saying that *I* do it (read opening few paras….), we ALL do it – and it’s a natural part of our lives today. And there are some very good sides to it (the part where I wrote about the support network, the company, the laughs and the work).
    But that perhaps, just perhaps, we should stop from time and time and think ‘hang on, do I NEED to be on here, when my kids are asking me a question??’
    The anti-women attack is so damaging, and so unnecessary here. I am writing it to raise an important issue for our kids and home lives, not to attack.
    I don’t read the Mail (ever) or agree with its politics. But it’s a good platform for accessing many women through the FeMail section, and talking about issues that affect many of us.
    And for the Mail, I think it was a remarkably balanced piece. We writers DO NOT EVER get final approval on copy, so we are at the mercy of what the eds decide to include. Many readers are wholly unaware of that. They think the words are OUR words. They are all too often cut, chopped, re-jigged and hate-i-fied.
    It saddens me that what was meant as a fun, balanced, helpful piece about the lives we ALL lead, and how that might be affecting our kids and our lives, has been misread by some as an attack on them. That was the VERY LAST THING I wanted to do.
    That’s it for now. And Rachael, thanks for the blog post – lovely as ever! πŸ™‚

  12. (I haven’t read the article…)

    Gotta say, my mother worked from home as a writer. She was an “in a minute” mother too, before home computers. I guess she was on teh Selectric too much. Yes, she’d make us a snack and dinner, and we weren’t to watch tv afterschool. But we went out, played with our friends, and kept ourselves happy. Just like our kids are. WTF is up with all this helicopter momming? If we are with them all the time, they become dependent on others to keep them amused. They NEED time to imagine and figure out what to do to stay busy or they are just gonna be MORE clingy (says the attachment parenting mom).

  13. Yay for common sense. That’s it, exactly. I was pretty much out of the house all of the time, doing stuff. I have NO idea what my mum or dad were doing. But I still think I need to cut down the screen time for me when the children are around (she said, as they sit watching Where the Wild Things Are beside me on the couch and I, er, look at my laptop. Hahahahahaha!).

  14. That’s just how I read it. I can’t help wondering if people read the article with their anti-Mail specs on and were looking for a bias that wasn’t there. But as that implies that I’m defending the Mail, I may have to have a little lie down. Or shoot myself. Haha.

  15. Yes, that’s exactly it. I’ve made so many lovely friends (and still making new ones!) and have learned so much. I just need to familiarise myself with the off button.

    I’ll just reply to these blog comments first, though…

  16. I think the internet is very time-sucky. You can lose hours on it, and still feel a bit unsatisfied. Or maybe that’s me? But yes, good point – is it because crafting gives you something tangible at the end, whereas blogging is still seen as a bit odd?

  17. God, that post made me feel guilty. Well, not so much the post itself as the comments underneath it.

    I’m now seriously considering shelving my book writing and blog until the boys are bigger. I know I should be shrugging it off and saying that I don’t care what people think but seeing as I work online, write books and also write a blog as well as using Twitter. Well, that’s just excessive isn’t it? :/

  18. Lovely M, you can’t be made to feel bad by the sort of people who comment on Daily Mail articles. Bollocks to the lot of them.

  19. *waves to LizF* because I shan’t read the piece, because I’m too busy talking. πŸ˜‰

    But really, it wasn’t until after WWII that anyone expected mothers would have ‘face time’ with children after weaning. We were busy working. We were chopping wood and hauling water and spinning wool. It’s only the consumerist slant of our ‘improved technology’ that gives women an opportunity to feel guilty about not spending time with kids… since that’s what gives us the time to spend.

    There can’t be anything ‘hardwired’ in humans that craves that kind of absolute attention. We wouldn’t, as a species, have survived.

    And, Good Heavens. The idea that my children may grow up to find the people they’re slated to marry never made their own sandwiches… oh, it gives me palpitations. My kids better marry kids who can do for themselves. Better balance, that way.

  20. I should know better than to click on anything on the Daily Heil website to be honest. I’m really not in the right frame of mind right now for their particular brand of bile. :/

  21. I think Liz’s point was that she’s as guilty of it as anyone else, and more of an oh argh sort of comment than a you-are-awful. That’s what she intended it to be, in any case. But there’s a reason why I don’t read That Paper. It’s horrid.

  22. My children are incredibly self sufficient (they have to be, with me being welded to the laptop). So if you’d like to tell me the ages and sexes of your lot, perhaps we could arrange marriage now? Ha.

  23. I get what she was saying and why she picked that particular platform to say it but ugh, the Mail and its readers are just DISGUSTING.

    I feel like I need a good scrub with carbolic soap now! Like someone from a workhouse, which is probably where Daily Mail readers would like to see me ending up. πŸ˜‰

  24. Yes, get thee to a workhouse, you feckless slattern. I will join you as a workshy wastrel, mother of far too many children and waster of NHS resources.

  25. and without that internet time how ever would we have met? (ish)

  26. Personally, I get sucked into facebook, blogs, websites, twitter, email, etc. I try to limit the time to when they are sleeping or answering quick emails/twitters on my phone. In fact, on weekends, I usually avoid my laptop.

    Social media does bring me sanity to a crazy day but I don’t want to miss anything in my kids lives because I’m tweeting. Life is too short. And these babies grow so fast!!

  27. Absolutely. Oh well, here’s to more ignoring of children. I mean encouraging them to be self starters. Ahem.

  28. Yes they do. My first baby is eleven next week. I’m not sure how that happened!

  29. Agree with Elana. And interestingly, I wrote an ENTIRE BOOK about the importance of non-cotton wool parenting, and no helicopter parenting, and letting them be kids and get the hell outside think, create, stop being molly-coddled, and have a bloody childhood and let’s all stop FUSSING over them etc. It’s what I spend most of my life writing about! I’m known as the Common Sense Mum for a reason.(It’s called Spoonful of Sugar, if you must know. The WORST BLOODT TITLE IN HISTORY and no, I didn’t get the choose that either!!!!!! I battled against it for months. Again….writers have NO say in these things.)
    But as the psychologist said, there’s a differnce between mum being busy doing housework or being AT WORK, and not having time, and us (yes, that includes ME!) being on the mobile/laptop/FB/twitter etc all the flipping time when they’re waiting for help with homework etc. That’s not OK, and I stand by that.
    It was a fair piece in an unfortunate publication. (That I don’t read either.)
    Glad so many people read it, and if it means more kids get their parents to switch the thing off once in a while, then my work here is done πŸ™‚

  30. I’ve had to move my favourite blog shortcuts to my netbook, otherwise I spend all day reading them when I should be doing work on the work computer, like I’m supposed to be doing now! Aarrgh!

  31. yes independent living… wouldnt’ want them marrying off and not knowing how to cook KD(Kraft Dinner/mac and Cheese) on their own.

  32. Ooh (terrible confession) I love KD!

  33. Oh no, I am to blame for your parental neglect!!!! Bugger. However, right this minute whilst I catch up with your blog you are to blame for mine πŸ™‚

    I think nowadays we worry too much about what’s right or wrong for our children. Children do not requite their parents attention 24 hours a day, in fact, in my humble opinion not having your attention does them good as it makes them think for themselves and learn to occupy themselves.

    Mine do complain that I’m always on my phone but even when I’m not they can normally be found on their computers, DS’s, MY iPad or some other electronic device. I occasionally get frustrated and make them colour pictures and make jigsaws but this is the world we live in. My kids spend hours playing outside and jumping around. So they come home and spend an hour on a computer, or even two, so what! They’re happy, healthy and I am a damn sight happier and healthier since I started tweeting and blogging.

    I HEART Twitter (and you!) xx