The other day I was trying to work at home via iPhone and computer when I realized that hours had passed and I had yet to really engage with my little one… She patiently (sort of) kept asking me to play and I kept putting her off. It was early afternoon by the time I actually looked straight into her eyes and had such a wave of sadness. I find that often when I’m feeling disconnected, hurried and impatient, all it takes is for me to force myself to stop, breathe and purposely look straight into a person’s eyes to ground me and get me back on track with connecting to them and pulling me out of my own chaotic head.
There is such a huge difference in the way my oldest daughter grew up compared to the way our youngest has been raised. (We have a 10 year age difference, high school to preschool). But wow, what an enormous difference a decade can make, watching VCR videos and PBS, using dial-up and barely having my first cell phone, strictly for phone calls. We read so many more (real) books back then, engaged in activities and one on one time. My oldest had lots of quiet time, cultivating the ability to play by herself for long periods and had (has) a rich imagination. My middle child had lots of time just to play with his oldest sibling.
We waited a while, then came along our third, with us switching to iPhones and our home having high speed internet and on-demand videos, iPads, Kindle Fire’s and iPods, etc. Granted, life is just busier with three kids and a big age gap, but being brutally honest here, my youngest is getting the short end of the stick. She has had less time to cultivate the capacity for solitude as there is always something to do to entertain her and when I’m trying to homeschool, she sadly often gets plugged into media so I can focus on Algebra, etc. It truly breaks my heart, and I realize that as “fun” and “convenient” as all of these gadgets are, they come with an equal amount of negativity. I don’t want to be the old codger waxing on about “the good old days”, but in some ways (many, ways actually) it was!! I have a sinking feeling, that it’s only going to get worse unless some conversations begin and some intentionality happens with me and with the parents I see around me.
I’ve recently come across several other people who are having these same thoughts and I’m ready to jump on board and join the discussion. I’m including some wonderful videos, blogs and websites for you to peruse. I’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences and resources as well, so please share!
This is a wonderful TED talk by Sherry Turkle that is SO worth your time. Promise! TED Talk “Connected, but Alone?”
This is a great blog I happened upon by a woman named Rachel Macy Stafford who wrote a book called Hands Free Mama as well as keeping a blog about her own wake-up call with technology and her little ones. Hands Free Mama
And finally a website committed to helping us unplug for our children’s sakes. Baby Unplugged
Enjoy this food for thought and the rich, unplugged experiences of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, filled with community, conversations and connection.