No, I am not talking about the ‘Invisible Man’ or a magic trick. I am talking about an existent, pertinent issue in our worlds today. How many of us have felt that our words have hit the wall and have bounced back? How many of us have been around people yet been anti-social? It could be the fact that we are addicted to our smart phones, our virtual lives or we are just too pre-occupied with our issues. But the fact-of-the-matter remains that ‘We are there but not there’.
I am a Stay-At-Home mom, maybe now I can say Work-From-Home mom thanks to my full time blogging work. This shift in my life has come in gradually. From being a full-time working mom, I chose to quit my job six years back and be there for my child, as I felt I was not doing 100% justice to my child or to my work. And this was my personal decision. I thought by quitting my job I will be able to devote all my time to my kids and to which I was very true in the initial few months of my quitting. But slowly as time went by I realised that while I was around but I couldn’t hover over them the whole day. I would spend a few engaged minutes with them and then their energies would exhaust me and I would need a break. I would call a friend, read a book or just watch TV.
Then I got in the horrible habit of checking my phone for my mails, my twitter account, my friend’s Facebook posts. So much so that it consumed me. I rarely raised my head up, to talk to my kids. It is usually done, while typing a message. My husband and I spend quiet dinner on the same table, checking our phones, kids glued to the television on the sofa. If my friends and family called they knew that my mind was preoccupied as I would answer in only monosyllables. They slowly drifted away and stopped calling me or even inviting me for get togethers. I can understand their frustration. I was forever on my phone and wondering when the call would end and I could get back to checking a video/blog/post etc. Being a blogger makes it worse for you, as then you have to be clued into social media and you’re forever doing campaigns promotions. You basically get stitched to your device.
One day I realised I had overdone it. I started to back step; Stopped watching TV completely and it’s been 10 months and I don’t miss it! Infact, it has given me so much time to pursue other things I like to do. Have finally managed to cut connections of all the TVs in my house, I had three! It was met with a lot of resistance, but we are ok now. Kids watch some carefully chosen CDs at times. I can’t completely switch off from my phone, but am working on it. Most of my blogging work gets over in the morning before my kids come back from school. I consciously don’t blog on the weekends. If you have ever seen a blog post on a weekend it has been planned well in advance.
But that said, I drop and pick my kids from the bus stop (a small change in routine but I realised it was an important change). My kids feel more confident to face the day and I see happy, bright faces when they come back. I spend some time with them then and get back to my chores in the day, while they eat, do their homework or go down to play. After meals, we head to the bed early and that I believe is the most special time we spend together. We read books together, share our day, or just joke and laugh.
Am I completely on track and cured now? No! It’s still the last thing I do before I fall off to sleep and first thing in the morning (check my phone )! I am consciously working on it, especially after I read it harms your brain cells. I am working on it more to get over this addiction. But at least I have recognised the problem and working for the solution, have you searched yourself yet? Don’t just be around..Be engaged!
Just to reinforce my views and thoughts, I try and seek expert opinions, as I am no expert but just a mommy like you. Today we have Dr. Shruti Jaiswal is a Homoeopath by education and an Educationist by passion.
In her 12 years of work experience both as a clinician and an educational consultant, she has interacted with more than 3000 children and people from various walks of life to bring about personal transformation along with their health and educational goals. Her special interests lie in Sexuality Education and Gender Sensitivity which was also the prime focus of study for her thesis in Masters of Education Program from Azim Premji University, Bangalore. She has been associated with the core team of Parwarish Institute of Parenting for the past 4 years. She has been working on research, designing & conducting workshops for parents & teachers. She brings her unique medical insights while leading the workshops. She has led the Parwarish programs across Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai – wherein she has been associated with both the public and the private sector.
As per Dr. Shruti, The best gift that you can give your children is your time!
The cognitive development of children is hugely aided by their interactions with their immediate environment. Vyogotsky – the famous child development psychologist from Russia calls this as the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). Parents spending time with their kids, having engaging conversations with them, helping them to find answers to their questions optimally play their role in this ZPD. But there is a fundamental difference between being around children and being with children. The former focuses on just ‘time factor’; the latter actually focuses on quality time, on real engagement.
Many studies clearly show that children who experience higher levels of parental engagement and a closer relationship with their parents are less likely to exhibit behavioral problems and to engage in high risk behaviors. In addition, they exhibit high levels of self esteem, emotional health and educational attainment.
Dr. Shruti is also on our blog-expert panel, you can ask her any questions you have related to parenting over there.