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.

 

 

Social Media and Your Baby

We just returned from a two-week stay with my in-laws on the East Coast. This was a great trip. We got to introduce Sunshine to our family and friends, she got to spend a lot of one on one time with her grandparents and uncles. We even got her baptized.

Having so much family and friends around was a big help to me as well. It gave me a chance to really sleep. Do you remember the kind of sleep where you can completely turn your mind off, where you can take up as much of the bed as you want and move about freely? Well, I got a few hours of that in a day.

It also just gave me time to exist on my own. My husband only took two weeks off from work after I gave birth to Sunshine, which meant after that I spent a lot of the day with her on my own. My daughter loves to be held, so this often meant that I barely had enough time to run to the bathroom and pee before she would start fussing again.

With the all the people at my in-laws dropping in for visits, not to mention nana and papa Gus, and her two uncles, I could actually sit on my own. I could eat, have a cup of coffee or tea, or read through the news without wondering when my time would be cut short and I would have to pick her up again.

At this stage in Sunshine’s life, she in unable to self-soothe. So letting her cry it out isn’t an option.

It was a nice break.

Sure, there were things that I didn’t love. I didn’t love living out of suitcases and not having my own space and time where I could just do whatever I wanted without worrying if people were wondering where I was or what I was doing. All of that were things I could shrug off, telling myself that in a short while I would be home again wondering where all the time went, so I should enjoy the little things.

One of the things that really got under my skin though, was people and their links to social media.

In this day and age, people are constantly snapping photos and taking videos. Viral videos are posted every single day of people the poster doesn’t even know. All of this is amplified when there is a baby around. People love babies and they love snapping photos of them, and taking videos.

I don’t mind people taking photos with my baby, what I do mind is people posting photos of my daughter without my permission.

On our trip, I spent most of the time with my in-laws and my brother in-laws new girlfriend. She was sweet, and I didn’t have anything against her, but she took a lot of photos of my daughter. That alone was odd to me because she and my brother-in-law have been dating less than a year. It was a little soon for her to be filling up her phone storage with photos of my baby.

However, I can totally understand baby fever, hell, I went through it myself.

What bothered me was later when I asked my husband to see photos that had been taken that day and he told me they were on her Instagram.

She had posted photos of my daughter to her Instagram, not just one or two, but upwards of thirty without even asking me if it was okay.

This bothered me. A lot.

I work with children, so maybe that is what makes the lines of what is and what isn’t appropriate so defined in my book. I am the kind of person who doesn’t take pictures of other people’s kids. If I had, it was to share with their parents through personal email, not through social media. Even the photos I take with the kids in my own family I never post on social media, I wouldn’t even dream of it. If I had, I would have asked my sister or brother if that was okay first.

So to me, this was brazen. This was ballsy for someone who had never met me before, someone I wasn’t close to and who was still skating on thin ice with me because we didn’t have a relationship that was in any way established.

I think for people who don’t work with kids or aren’t parents themselves, they don’t realize how standoff-ish we can be when it comes to children in our care, especially our own! This made me feel violated and had me questioning this woman and who she thought she was.

However, I had just met her and had she been dating my husband’s other brother I would have addressed this with him right away but conversations with the brother she was dating always felt forced and my wording was always somewhat scripted in my head.

I am not on Facebook or Instagram personally. I am not the kind of person who posts things constantly, and even if I was and I did, it is every bit my right as a parent to decide what is posted of my child, when and where.

In this age where social media is at everyone’s fingertips and almost second nature, I can understand why someone would post something without thinking, but with children, I would always tiptoe to the side of caution.

Advice I would give to new parents is to voice your rules and regulations in regards to your children at any event where you know photos would be taken. If you see someone taking a picture of your baby or child, let them know you are uncomfortable with any of those pictures ending up on social media. Do this right away, because if you are like me and you wait to voice your views and feelings to your husband until you are sitting in the airport waiting for your flight home, it becomes harder to address and undo.

I post photos of my daughter on this blog and on the twitter account affiliated with this blog. As her mom, that is something I debated whether or not I would do when I started this blog.

I think it’s important for parents to sit down and discuss social media, it’s reaches and whether or not you are comfortable with your children being online.

My comfort level is not overly high… I find with older generations, it is hard to limit an overzealous grandparent from posting every photo on their facebook page. It’s a comfort to know they are only sharing it with their 30 or so facebook friends (mostly family), most of which don’t know how to re-share those photos. I had accepted the grandparents would share photos of my daughter, but outside my husband and I, and our parents, I hadn’t thought I would have to limit other people.

The issues that arise with parenting are so different now than they were ten years ago. The internet is playing a larger and larger part in our kid’s lives and it’s important not to forget about that. A lot of things can’t be undone once they are online. You tweet or post something that gets shared by the right person, and that will be circulating forever.

It kind of makes you miss the days of polaroids, photo albums and phone calls.

Back to Blogging

For those of you who have been following my parenting blog, you have probably noticed that I have gone MIA in the past few weeks. Why? Well, first off because my computer decided quite suddenly that it no longer wanted to work and was going to go on a bit of a vacation.

As someone who considers herself somewhat tech savvy, this was especially infuriating. I had made the switch from Mac products to PC mostly for price point. After buying my first MacBook back in 2009 and being so in love with it, it slowly started to deteriorate over the past year and buying a new one with a baby on the way seemed impractical. Also, they seem to just be making the newer models smaller and smaller. What I loved about my original MacBook, you know, the one with the one rounded unibody was that it was  little heavy, it was durable. I liked the fact that I could write for hours and then just tuck it back behind my couch cushions and now worry about it getting damaged at all.

Now just picking up the newer laptops and holding them in my hand makes me wonder if I am responsible enough for those sleek, light models. I have a baby on the way, and even before that I am not the most agile person. Some tend to refer to me as a clutz, or clumsy. Smaller for me, is not better.

It’s why I own the largest iPhone. Because I have dropped three in the toilet… that’s right people. THREE! Getting a phone to big to fit in my back pocket seemed the only solution and it has been working out well so far.

So price point and overall durability had pushed me back to PC. All was well, I could do things for a lot less money like upgrade my RAM, graphics cards, I could play way more PC games, which is a pastime my husband and I like to do together. However, I forgot just how frustrating an issue with a PC could be. With my Mac I would just run a program that would fix everything for me and it was pretty much smooth sailing after that. With a PC you have to know all these codes, you have to know how to run and operate Powershell, you have to research all these little things and even then, you can be staring at a blank screen in frustration.

It has literally been something I have been trying to fix for weeks. With my work schedule, my fatigue and the fact that for whatever reason sitting at my desk tends to make my feet swell up twice their size, I haven’t been putting in the effort to really come up with a solution.

With Friday being my last day of work and me finally being on Maternity Leave, I figured today was the day. I was going to figure everything out, and luckily… I DID!

So I am back, ladies and gents. Back to documenting my journey with just a month left to go.

Buckle up, I have a feeling things are about to get a little more exciting!

Until next time, keep on pretending folks.