Raising A Baby In The Age Of Tech

This is a conversation I have a lot with moms. They wonder how much of things like the iPad and other gadgets are good for their babies, and if it’s even possible to keep your little one away from technology altogether. There are those that fear exposing their baby’s still growing mind to tech early, could in some way hinder their growth, while other’s worry that keeping their baby away from technology will have their child dropping behind.

I mean, I personally know two-year-olds that can turn phone’s from ringing to silent, know how to unlock iPads and navigate the apps with little effort, and for some parents who see how much technological skills it takes to progress in the world nowadays, it is a glowing talking point for them.

My view on this is, anything in moderation is okay. I think those who push too much, either way, don’t realize how hard it is for some moms. We don’t know everyone’s situation, and for a lot of moms, they are battling more than just motherhood. There are those working and struggling to deal with all the stress that goes along with that, there are those that are battling emotional and mental hurdles. For a lot of parents, the idea of just ten undisturbed minutes is a dream, and one worth faltering when it comes to those ideals.

Apple products seem to be taking over. There isn’t an infant of a grandma who isn’t carrying around an iPad to check The Facebook or watch YouTube videos. Naturally, when I got pregnant I looked at my husband and had the audacity to tell him that there was absolutely no way our child would be one of those kids addicted to the iPad.

Alright, guys, I am going to admit something big to you here. My daughter (gasps audibly, touches the back of her hand to her forehead and throws herself back dramatically) has iPad time. Now, what does that mean? She is 8 months old. How could she possibly be using the iPad?

Well, in the mornings when I am wishing I had more sleep, wondering how my boob fell out of my bra during the night, wiping crusts out of the corner of my eye, and zombie-walking towards the coffee maker, I open up the Amazon Prime app on my iPad and put on a Super Simple Song episode for her. What is that? I’ll tell you what it is. It’s about 45 minutes of Nursery Rhymes, Shapes, Colours, Alphabet, and Number songs that keep her busy long enough for me to at least attempt at getting my shit together in the morning.

For all those people gasping and pointing a for shame finger in my direction, I have a finger I can point at you as well, so let’s not get nasty.

I have said this once, and I will probably say this a million more times in my life; Parenting is hard! Sometimes we need just a little bit of time to ourselves, and for those people out there who think it’s simple to put a baby in front of a toy or activity and have them stay put without wailing, then they obviously aren’t parents.

My daughter and I have constant play time. We spend hours on the floor together with her toys and her books, we do lots of things to try and keep her engaged and work her mind. However, parenting constantly with no breaks to be a human being is extremely taxing on your mind and if you do that every single day without any time for yourself, you are barrelling towards a mental breakdown.

So, despite all I said when I was pregnant, my daughter watched the iPad when I need a moment to myself at home, or in the car (I have prayed to deities I don’t even believe in for a moment’s peace in the car while I am stuck in traffic and my daughter is screaming at the top of her lungs because apparently, the car seat is her nemesis).

Now, I do think that if you constantly hand your child the iPad during the day instead of attempting other ways to engage them and that time on devices is steadily piling up, that you should consider unplugging. I think an hour or two a day on any device is plenty and you shouldn’t constantly co-parent with technology. That being said, moderation is key.

I would also look into certain products or put devices out of reach if you have a little one that isn’t old enough to operate the technology on their own. I learned this the hard way when I was stuck in traffic, put the iPad in the back seat so she could watch The Greatest Showman and calm down a bit, only to get home and check my email. It was then I realized that, while touching the iPad the way she always does, she purchased over $50 in iBooks.

I am currently reading a bunch of them because the helpline is not as helpful as you would have hoped and I am now stuck with all these books.

Personally I would start taking devices away when you can see it’s becoming a problem for your child, and try to keep them off of YouTube as it seems like every kid that goes on there becomes a zombie unable to function while their videos are playing. Put some games on there that can help with their problem solving and development, reading or colouring apps are great for helping their focus.

If your child doesn’t give you clear responses when you are speaking to them and they are on the iPad, don’t just laugh it off. It’s not cute and you are allowing them to develop bad habits that will only get worse over time. Make sure their attention whenever you are speaking to them is completely on you, whether they are watching TV, on the iPad or even just playing.

Limit the amount of time they use devices and use other activities as a first priority before any electronics.

It’s good for your child to unplug several hours before bedtime to give them an opportunity to wind down. I’ve read several articles about the blue light in device screens disrupting their sleep patterns if they are used too close to bedtime.

So yes, it’s completely possible to raise your kids with technology, just so long as you keep in mind that all technology connects to the internet these days, and anything that connects to the internet, in regards to your child, should always be closely monitored and used in moderation.

Like anything in parenting, find your balance and do what’s best for your family. There is no cookie-cutter solution.

 

 

My Life and Kids

Since I was little, I have always had this responsibility for children. My mom was hard-working, she was one of those independent women who wanted to do it all herself, if not only to prove to herself that she could, to prove to the world that it could be done and to show her children that effort and hard work was always rewarded.

There were five of us, and she did it all on her own.

What that meant was as soon as my brother came along, my sister and I had this unspoken responsibility for him. We were his protectors, his surrogate mothers, his sisters, his friend, whatever our mother needed us to be. He was four years behind me, and my sister had a bit of a mean streak to her, so we stuck together as much as we could.

As time progressed, my brother and I grew apart, my sister grew up and we got two more brothers. The age difference between my brothers and I are four years, eight years, and ten years. So by the time my second brother came along, I was more willing to step into a maternal role for him. Babies to me at that age were cute, and I was more than willing to lend a hand.

I could say that when my teenage years came around I became rebellious, I didn’t want to babysit because I would rather be out with my friends and there was always something else I would rather be doing… but that would be a lie. I was a bit of a homebody. I liked making little hiding places for myself around our house, curling up in there with a dull light and reading a book. I was the go to when it came to someone to watch my siblings because my sister was more the rebellious type, she had an attitude and to be quite frank, my brothers were terrified of her.

When I was ten we moved into our first townhouse. We had only lived in apartments up until that point and the prospect of having a back yard and my own room that I didn’t have to share with my sister… who at times I could have sworn was possessed by a demon, seemed like some type of dream coming true. What also seemed like it would be something new and fun was that we lived a mere few blocks away from my mom’s sister, my aunt and her four kids.

It was fun. It was back in the time when children weren’t really supervised. We went outside as soon as we came home from school and stayed out until the streetlights came on. We roamed the neighbourhoods without fear, crossing streets, and climbing fences and no one could care less. We were being kids.

It was also a time when it was completely acceptable for a ten or eleven year old to watch your five or six-year-old. What this meant is that I was responsible for a whole brood of children while my mother, aunt and uncle were at work.

Most would think that once I got older, got my own job and a taste of freedom, I would put as much distance between kids and myself as I possibly could. I was finally in my teens, I had a handful of friends and was no longer a hermit. Somehow, pushing kids out of my mind and out of my way never really felt right. I went from babysitter, to volunteering at the local recreational centre, to being a camp counsellor, to working at a tourist attraction that was a mix of families and drunk university students. One way or another, no matter where I turned, kids were there.

I was never the type of person who dreamt about being a mother, despite always being surrounded by kids. My mother became a mom very early, and although she never really spoke about it, I could see her struggle. I could sense her desperation at times. She had my sister when she was only eighteen years old. I came along at twenty and so on.

My sister also go pregnant young. She had my nephew when she was twenty-two. It seemed like no matter where I turned, there were young mothers, especially growing up in the low-income “ghetto” that I did. I promised myself that I wouldn’t be one of those young moms, that I would try to figure my life out first. Mostly, because I didn’t want to do it alone.

Single parents have it hard. They are wonderful and they have a strength that few can understand unless they live through it. I have the utmost respect for them. That being said, I wanted something different for myself and for my family when I was ready for one. I didn’t want my kids to experience the heartbreak of seeing their parents break up, of promises to see a father that showed up once in a while and then never at all. I wanted that picture perfect family.

It may seem silly to some, but I didn’t want to follow in my mother’s footsteps… or even in my sisters. I lived through the struggle with both of them, I’ve heard about their regrets and didn’t want those regrets to become my own.

For a short amount of time, I did step away from kids. I moved out of my mom’s house. I became a hostess at a bar, a waitress for a time. I worked a bridal boutiques. I did whatever would make me the money I needed to try and sort my life out. I wanted the independance my mother had always strived for, I wanted to provide myself with things I felt guilty asking for as a kid.

Yet somehow, I ended up as a nanny.

Right back in the kids zone.

Now, as I am so close to becoming a mom I think about that a lot. About all the choices I made and how I always seemed happiest working with kids. There is just something about their innocents that almost rubs off on you, it lifts some of your worries and woes and leaves you a little bit lighter.

These days I find myself worrying about what is going to happen when the baby in my life is my own. When I can’t simply return it at the end of the day. I wonder if I will still have that patience I am known for, if I will still marvel in that innocence. Mostly I worry if I am as prepared for it as everyone else seems to think I am.

As someone who has always been surrounded with kids, I should be ready for this.

So why don’t I feel ready?

Is ready ever something anyone expecting to be a parent can be?

These are questions I am going to have more than enough time to try and find the answers to, questions I will learn the answers to sooner or later… ready or not.

Until then, I guess I will just keep on pretending.