Monday, June 14, 2010

Parenting While Plugged In (or Anything Else)

I love it when the mom-guilt stars align.

Last week, the New York Times published a story you may have already seen, "The Risks of Parenting While Plugged In."  At this point it's hard for me to remember if I glanced at it during one of the nights I was at the office until midnight, 1am, 3am...or at home but up working until 5am.  But it was one of those weeks that from time to time raises its ugly head but is unavoidable in my line of work - the work needs to get done, the clients' deadlines need to get met and everyone's burning the midnight oil.  At any rate, I sent myself the link, figuring it might be an interesting topic to blog about.  (On a side note, if you follow me on Twitter, I offer you my thanks for putting up with my late night pity parties and not dropping me like a hot potato.)

So here I am, nearly a week later, finally reading it, finally thinking about it, finally blogging about it.  Yes, I have a laptop and a smartphone.  And yes, it is too easy to just do a quick e-mail check, which leads to a Twitter check and a Facebook know the drill.  And yes, some of these checks are in the presence of my girls.  I hate that somedays it's a conscious effort for me to be unplugged for a given span of time, that it isn't my first instinct to leave. the. phone. alone.

If you haven't read the article, I can give you the Cliff's Notes according to me.  (1) If you don't unplug, you are not mentally present and maybe your kid will bite you.  (2) More research is needed, but we're all pretty sure you're screwing up your kids if you bring work outside of the office.  (3) Parents, you get an "E" for effort trying to avoid being in the office from dawn 'til dusk and seeing your kids for more than a few minutes, but too bad.

Okay, I exaggerate.

But when so many of us are trying to do right by our spouses, our children and ourselves, it's more than a bit wearing to hear from the "experts" that we're missing the mark.  Frankly, I'll file this article with the other research that tells me:
  • If you stay at work too long and aren't home long enough, you're harming your children.
  • If you don't stay at home with your children all day, you're harming your children.
  • If you stay at home with your children all day, you're harming your children.
  • If you're overly involved in your kids' day to day lives, you're harming your children.
And once I've got that filed away, I'll head back to play with my girls, catch up with my husband, and - yes - maybe even check my e-mail once in a while.  And I know that there's always room for improvement, but wouldn't parenting be dull otherwise?  

So...are you plugged-in but present?  Do you declare technology-free times in your home?  Or are you in danger of your kids biting you?