Friday, July 15, 2011

Get Off the Damn Computer and Spend Time With Your Kid

Don't worry, the title of this blog post isn't directed at you;  it's actually me quoting the advice I give myself just about every day to keep myself in check.  You see, before Aias was born, I didn't use the computer very often.  Instead, I was out of the house doing other things like hiking, rock climbing, swimming, hanging out with friends, schmoozing at cocktail parties, volunteering, etc.  Adult interaction... what a concept!  About 3 weeks before he was born my mat leave began.   I was stuck at home by myself, humongously pregnant and starving for adult interaction.  Sure, it was nice to have time to myself those first few days, but a people-person like me does much better when I have someone to talk to.  Someone who can, you know, talk back!  To ease my boredom and total lack of interaction, I logged in to Facebook or Livejournal because this is where my friends lived!  No matter where they were at the moment, there they were in the computer so we could exchange stories about our days or whatever we felt like discussing.

Internet: like crack for parents.
The best thing about the Internet at that time aside from just the adult interaction was that I had a surplus of information at my fingertips: every parenting issue or question I could ever have thought up already existed on the Internet.  If it didn't, I could post somewhere about it, and the answers and links would come flying onto the screen thanks to others like myself.  It was fantastic, and by golly, it was addicting!  There wasn't a single parenting issue we could think of that didn't have an answer somewhere on the Internet... and we learned this quickly.  When an issue came up our first line of offense or defense (depending on the issue) was to type in those magic letters:  If that failed us, to the message boards we went!  We would learn everything there was to know about parenting and become super parents, all thanks to the information super highway!

Thanks to the Internet, even a total schmuck can become the best parent EVAR!
Before long, we developed a habit of not only coming up with our own questions about parenting to type into Google, but we discovered websites where we could just read article after article on how to be great parents, without even having to think up the questions ourselves! taught us all about breast feeding, for example.  Blogs like PhD in Parenting and Peaceful Parenting taught us about attachment parenting and about issues in parenting we didn't even know existed.  How our parents ever raised us without the Internet is beyond me.  Clearly it's a miracle we are all alive.

By and large, Aias owes a lot to the Internet. Aside from the fact that his father and I met on a dating site so without the Internet he very likely would not even exist, he also has the Internet to thank for the fact that he still has a foreskin, is still breastfed at nearly 2 years old, and is still happily rear facing in his car seat.  Without the Internet, I honestly wouldn't have encountered information on any of those topics in my immediate family or circle of friends.  I doubt if Morgan would have either. At the same time, some days I find myself worried that without disciplining myself, I'd spend more time on the Internet reading about how to parent him than I'd spend in the real world actually parenting him! Trust me, there's enough information flying around on here to keep someone occupied while their kid's whole life passes them by.  Sure, they'll know a lot about parenting through their reading, but shouldn't we be spending more time actually parenting our children than just reading about it and talking about it on the Internet?

You may have noticed that I haven't been updating the blog as much lately, and there's a simple reason for that: Aias is having a sleep regression. You see, when Aias sleeps is when I allow myself to get online.  My blogging strategy is to wait until Aias is having a nap or until after he's gone to bed, and then I pump out as many blog entries as I possibly can, set them to appear in the blog at a certain date and time and then *POOF* like magic my blog is populated.  Entries auto-appear in the blog, they get auto-posted to twitter and facebook thanks to Networked Blogs, and all the while I could be at the spray park or playground completely disconnected.  Voila!  This is a fantastic strategy, that is, unless your kid is refusing to sleep without you being thisclose to him.   No sleeping baby = no time to write entries = no entries.  That's not to say, of course, that I'm entirely innocent when it comes to being online around my kid.  I've been known to pop over to the computer as it sits on the counter from time to time during the day while Aias plays by himself.  I'm also still horribly guilty of holding onto my Blackberry for dear life so I can interact on Facebook and gchat all day with friends and family all over the world, but give a stay-at-home mom a break!

I'm not saying it's bad to post on message boards or to blog or to chat on Facebook when your kids are around.  In fact, if I were to say that it would honestly be a serious case of the pot calling the kettle black.  I truly think that as adults, it's our responsibility to monitor and assess our own behaviors and how we spend our time and to determine for ourselves how much of it we think we should devote to our kids, our hobbies, etc.  I personally find it a bit of a struggle to step away from the computer sometimes, but if there's one thing I've learned in the past 20 months, it's that none of the parenting information that exists on the Internet is more valuable than simply spending time with your kid.  I think that actually may be the most important lesson I've taken from all this, and I didn't even have to use Google to come up with that conclusion.

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