I want to share two sites/articles that really got my attention and I reference them almost every day of my parenting journey. Have you ever heard cell phones referred to as a ‘shut up toy’? It’s basically the idea the parents are quick to give children or toddlers their phones to keep them happy in moments of boredom. I read this article just before Christmas and I was actually contemplating buying my twins an ipad for Christmas because they were spending a lot of time at hockey rinks watching their older brothers and noticed a lot of younger kids had them. At this time my oldest son was also getting in the habit of asking to play on my iphone when he was bored. This article and just the reference of shut-up toy really made me think of the message I was sending by passing out electronics when my kids were bored. I really was telling them to shut up and stay quiet by doling out a phone. I explained this to my older son who then begged me to stop reading articles from the internet<grin>, but I looked him in the eye and told him “I don’t want to shut you up”. And I looked around the hockey rink and realized without the distraction of electronics, my kids would color, draw, play hide and seek, and engage in play with the other rink kids. The moment one of them cracked open an ipad, ipod, or phone, the kids just totally zone out. My thanks to the author Michele Whiteaker because she saved me from a bad purchase and brought a new term to my household that explains perfectly how I feel about handing kids electronics to shut them up. And it might take my 10 year old 20 years to admit it, but he stopped asking to play on my iphone almost immediately after I explained what the article stated and if he was to be given ‘honest juice’ I think he would tell you it made him feel good to have someone that would rather engage with him than shut him up. But it will be a long time before he would admit such a thing!
The other article that really brought me to my knees while reading is linked through a great Fan Page called The Hands Free Revolution and if you’re active on Facebook, this is a page to follow! The words from this site are encouraging parents to spend less time on cell phones and more time engaged with their children. Before you do an eye-roll, have a read at this article called How To Miss A Childhood. I don’t think it’s written to increase the guilt that we as parents already carry, simply to make us aware of how electronics have surrounded us and are distracting us from events we don’t want to miss. I needed a few reminders about making sure my children know my love for them deserves to be uninterrupted. I’ve already made a few changes since reading the article I was so inspired.
There was another article on the Hands Free Mama site called Six Words You Should Say Today. I really enjoyed this article too and have started trying to translate what always turns into long drawn-out confessions of love every time my children accomplish anything, and cutting it down to 6 simple words. “I love it when you sing.” “I love watching you do gymnastics.” “I love watching your beautiful smile.” I’m trying to build self esteem with my children and I think this is a great way to keep compliments simple and perhaps more meaningful to a child. I also took to heart not going into extensive detail with my children’s performance so that it’s misinterpreted – keeping it simple is a great way for me to ensure my message stays positive from start to finish.
These two writers are talking about unplugging from the norm and how we interact with children and electronics once we’re out of the house. Both caused me to take a moment and think – rather then just following what everyone else is doing and to look through my children’s eyes at how my actions might be interpreted.