Resident writer Lynn Jackson was shocked to see a Council sign at her favourite park banning Mum’s from their technology while their children played… should your local member be entitled to an opinion on how you parent?
“No Technology Past This Point” read the painted message as I entered the park. Instantly, a slight flash of shame hit me right in the already tender guilt-centre of my heart. I knew that probably the first thing that I would do, after unstrapping the toddler from the pram and dumping him in his own personal nirvana – the sandpit – would be to fish my phone out of my bag. I knew that I’d probably be “that iPhone mother” that the viral article last year cautioned against. I knew that I wouldn’t even be the justified iPhone mum of the rebuttal article – the one who was juggling her time madly, organising doctor’s appointments and work emails while her kids played.
I was the iPhone mom who just wanted to check in with her friends on Facebook, and maybe sneak in a quick game of Candy Crush Soda before the kids tired of the slide and came over to demand snacks.
As quick as the guilt hit, the bolshy rebellious me – the me I don’t see too often now that I’m bathing in the delightful bliss of motherhood, with all its innumerable joys (the sarcastic me is all present still though) – raised its defiant head and thought,
Get stuffed, council sign, and your mum-shaming message.
If a mum wants to have a relaxing afternoon in the sun, with her iPod on, while her children play “over there” independently – then more power to her. If a mum wants to use her phone, counting her offspring between Facebook updates, then go for it, lady. Most of the parents of today survived a generation where childhood supervision involved an elderly neighbour who spent their days tending the front garden, so you knew not to get into too much mischief or the story would get back to your mum and dad. Most of the grandparents of today spent their childhoods in the now near mythical days where you knew you had to be home before the streetlights turned on. Yes, we probably had a few extra skinned knees and the Band-Aids weren’t applied within the recommended timeframe but we did have childhood play that fostered independence, problem solving skills and a few risk-taking behaviours that taught us a whole lot of life-skills that came in handy later.
We seem to be moving to a time when just taking your eyes off your child in a playground is Bad Parenting. I won’t be judging you if you choose to hover at the base of the climbing tower (I’ve been there – but my youngest is far more competent than my oldest and won’t need catching!) and I’ll only be envying you if you’re fitting your butt into the plastic slide with your toddler, so can we please make playgrounds a judgement free zone where kids can play, and parents can enjoy that play however they wish? Whether I’m watching from afar or joining in the play, my kids are having an awesome time, I can promise you that.
As I left the playground, I paused at the gate and amused my kids further by doing a little Shimmy Shake on the sign – a Wiggles Inspired rebellion against all it implied. It was only then that I noticed the painted message was pretty darn scuffed, despite having only appeared in the last week. Perhaps I am not the only one who’s tired of the judgement.
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