So go ahead. Judge away.
I'll freely admit it: I'm a bit of an iPhone addict. My phone is always on me or within arm's reach, like a security blanket. I keep my sounds and alerts off but I check it all the time and notifications for email, Facebook, Ebay, even my freaking meditation program come popping up all day.
I'm home with kids 10 hours a day, five days a week. I love my kids to pieces. I enjoy playing with them. But aside from the occasional play date or Mommy and Me, I'm with kids ALL DAMN DAY and I crave adult conversation and interaction. My phone provides that outlet. I have friends all over the world to share stories with (often about our kids), to bitch and moan with, and to connect to.
Besides all that, I use my phone to do what my mother (and her mother) used to do all day: I read the news. I read heartfelt and funny articles, sometimes even poetry. I take care of practical matters: balance my bank account, buy baby wipes, protein bars, dish soap, applesauce.
I make arrangements to volunteer at my son's school. I sign my kids up for extracurricular activities. Yes, it's all on a phone, but it's not that different than what moms of many generations did in those spare moments between housework and childcare.
But when I'm in the thick of mothering — serving food, breaking up fights, cleaning up messes — my phone is at my fingertips. It gives me a certain comfort. It provides the same soothing that the little bits of chocolate I eat interspersed throughout my day do, but without growing my butt to astronomical proportions.
Honestly, I'd rather be addicted to my phone than much of anything else. It won't wreck my body, throw off my blood chemistry, and bonus: It's calorie-free. Yes, there's sort of an obsessive quality to it and it isn't always the best model for screen-time moderation for my kids. But I think there are enough healthy qualities to the obsession to give it the green light.
Lately, I've been making sure to explain to my kids what I'm doing on my phone so they don't think I'm lost in the abyss of screen-time. "Oh, look at your cousin's new baby," I'll say. Or I'll tell them about an article I've just read if I think it was interesting.
I'll tell them that I'm texting their dad or catching up with an old friend. I want them to know that what I do on my phone can be productive and a source of connection and friendship.
My days with kids can be miraculous and beautiful one minute, and draining and thankless the next. When my phone lights up with a notification from a friend, a colleague, or even an email about my latest diaper order, it brightens up my day. And guess what? A happy mother is a good mother.
A mother who finds little moments to relax, unwind, and connect during the tedium of her days is making a healthy choice for herself — and her children.