They are sitting at a picnic table drinking their coffee when I plonk myself down on a seat near by.
They look over when my boys race up and asked me to push them on the swing. I tell the boys ‘in a minute’ and they race off screeching.
I notice one of them frown, and then I actually hear her make that ‘tut tut’ sound.
I wonder if they might be bothered by my wild kids making lots of noise and racing around like hooligans, but then I catch the end of her sentence
‘…parents have always got their faces in their phones’.
Are they really judging me for using my phone while my kids play at the park??
My kids are not tiny. They are old enough to negotiate the play equipment and manage most social situations. They can even push themselves on the swings and are more than capable of coming to me for help, should they need it.
They do not need me, or want me, to helicopter parent them when we are at the park. So while they run off as much energy as they can in 30 minutes, I sit. And while I sit, I use my phone.
You can give me all the dirty looks, and do all the tut tutting you like, but it won’t make me feel guilty for using my phone while my kids play happily at the park.
You don’t know me.
You don’t know my kids, or our life.
You don’t know why I am on my phone, or what I am doing.
Maybe I’m writing a shopping list, or paying a bill.
Maybe I’m texting a friend to see if she is ok after a rough day.
Maybe I am emailing my child’s teacher to organise a meeting about a problem we are having.
Maybe I am connecting with people in a support group on facebook so I feel a little less alone.
Maybe I am telling my eenager that she is brave, and smart, and can do anything she puts her mind to.
Maybe I am making a doctors appointment for myself instead of putting it off for yet another day.
Maybe I am checking my calendar and wondering how on earth I fit everything in.
Maybe I am texting my husband to say I love him because we haven’t had chance to speak in days.
Maybe I am googling ways to cope with the latest kid crisis.
Maybe I am doing something important, something meaningful, or worthwhile, or maybe I am playing candy crush, or scrolling mindlessly through facebook.
It doesn’t matter if I am using my phone to cram one more important thing into my overstuffed day, or if I am using my phone to escape for a few minutes and not think about all the things that are weighing me down. Both of those things are equally valid.
It’s ok not to be 100% tuned into your kids all the time. Sometimes it’s even good for our kids not to be so closely scrutinized every waking second.
It’s ok to use this time, when you know your kids are happy and don’t need you, to do some work, or tick off something on your to do list so that you can be there for them later, when they do need you.
It’s ok to need a break every now and then, or a laugh, or to connect with someone else.
It’s ok to put yourself before ‘creating memories’ and ‘not missing a single second’ every once in a while.
I know my kids are ok.
I know my kids are happy.
I know that I spend plenty of time with my kids with no screens in sight.
I know that I am not a perfect parent, but that using my phone while my kids play happily at the park does not make me a bad one.
So you go and ahead and judge me for enjoying a bit of time on my phone if you want. I don’t mind. But don’t expect me to feel guilty, because I know better.
Have you ever had your parenting judged?
What happened? How did you cope with it? Do you say something to the person who was judging? Should I have said something to these women?