“I’m so busy.”
I’m tired of hearing my own voice say those three words.
I started writing this post when the little boy climbed into the gorilla exhibit a couple months ago. But I’ve been so “busy” I haven’t had (made) the time to finish it until now. I wanted to write about it because I had a tad different take on it than most people seemed to. Sure, my heart ached for the gorilla, as well as for the zoo workers who had to make that horrific choice to kill it in order to save the child. It still gives me a pang thinking of it. But after seeing and reading all the shaming that happened towards the boy’s mother, all I could think of was that I was surprised that that sort of incident doesn’t happen more often. That’s precisely why I mention the “busy” word: Today’s parents are so busy, therefore distracted, that’s its a true wonder that crazy stuff doesn’t happen more often. I can see the headlines now:
Child Falls Off Side of Cruise Ship and is Carried Away by Dolphin Family
Record Number of Children Arrested for Trespassing While Playing Pokémon Go
Toddler Reunited with Parents After Being Taken by a Band of Monkeys
Unfortunately, one of those stories is actually real, but I digress.
Let’s face it:
And being a parent is
Simply put: It’s nearly impossible to keep both eyes on our children at every second of the day. Even if we didn’t have social media addictions to blame, kids are still super slippery and mischievous. If yours aren’t, then you’ve been miraculously blessed by the Calm Child Gods and you need to drop to your knees and thank your lucky stars. “Busy” has become the social norm for today’s families. If we, as stay-at-home moms, aren’t constantly touting how busy we are, then we must therefore be eating bon bons. If we aren’t busy, then we surely aren’t giving our children fulfilling lives. And please don’t misunderstand: Being a mom is the busiest job on the planet. But some of the to-do list can and should be dwindled back to 1980’s standards of busyness. Less Facebook, more books. Less gymnastics practice, more driveway bike-riding. Less drive-thru dinners on the go, more homemade suppers in the home.
Today’s parents are such a cluster of jarbled up oxymorons that it’s nearly impossible to know which way is up, nonetheless take the time to prioritize our priorities. We put too much pressure on ourselves, not to mention the tremendous pressure placed on us by society as a whole. We can’t win for losing: We are either too watchful of our children and called a “helicopter mom” or we aren’t protective enough and therefore unfit to be a parent.We’re expected to only feed our babes organic non-GMO produce and products from free-range, cage-free, massaged animals who listen to a live stream of classical music. We are only allowed to slather them with non-toxic sunscreen made from the highest quality oils secreted from Amazonian venus fly traps and dress them in UV protectant silk woven by magical fairies. And heaven forbid we not cheer on their every move during soccer practices whilst reminding them to hydrate with their water from the springs of the Great Wishing Well of Atlantis. And speaking of soccer, they shall each be awarded participation medals just for showing up on picture day.
All this while we are expected to look like a Kardashian fresh from the hair extension factory/botox injectory (yep, made up word)/personal
booty lifter trainer.Today’s moms not only distracted (hello my BFF, iPhone) we’re also entirely overbooked. If we’re not shuffling our children to various afterschool activities, we’re checking our Facebook feeds. We can’t even make it from one stoplight to the next without being tempted to pick up our phones, lest we miss the latest post. We are raising our families in the generation of around the clock news, 24/7 cartoon channels and perpetual entertainment updates. After all, if we aren’t the first to retweet the latest Taylor Swift boyfriend sighting we might as well run for the hills and call it a day because we are a big fat loser.
Our minds and thoughts are in a constant state of overstimulation. When’s the last time you actually sat on your front porch and just watched your children play without a phone in your face? Heck, we’re even expected to document their every move by photo or video and post it to social media, as if our friends and acquaintances need a reminder of how fast they’re growing or how beautiful they are or how they’re the next Michael Jordan or Leonardo DaVinci. Let’s take a step back and realize that it’s just another distraction from creating true relationships, namely with our own families.Of course, it goes without saying that when you’re at a place like a zoo, one should up their parenting game. Wild animals are no match for our wild kids or vice versa. However, I can totally see how my kid (y’all know which one!) could end up jumping into a gorilla enclosure: I was too busy “checking in” at the zoo, perfecting my selfie game and/or waiting for that split second where the gorilla is walking by the glass to snap the perfect, postable pic of my perfectly posing children. We, as a whole, have begun to place more importance on our social media family and the impression we want to make over our real ones.
With all the technology, we have no limits to our capabilities nowadays:
- We no longer need pen pals. We can “be” in someone’s living room on the other side of the world by tapping the “FaceTime” button on our phones. Bam.
- Missed last night’s episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon? No need to rewind that VCR tape. Simply DVR it or You Tube it. Boom.
- Need to research information for a book report? No need to drag out the heavy encyclopedias of the olden days or trudge to the public library. Just Google it. Done.
- We don’t even need to call people. In fact, people would rather you not. We’re too busy to talk. Send a text. Holla.
- We don’t need to do our own grocery shopping. What a waste of time. We can go online, place an order and have it delivered within the hour. Snap.
- We don’t need to teach our toddlers the alphabet. There’s an app for that. Virtual high five.
- Remember when malls and stores were closed on Sundays or at least opened later in the day so that employees could spend time with their families and attend church if they so chose? Now they don’t even close on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day because they might lose business to Amazon Prime. Money>Family. Truth.
All aspects of life are at our fingertips, so why shouldn’t a gorilla be too?
All these latest, greatest gismos are like cliff notes. Why read the book when someone can give you a short cut? Don’t get me wrong; I was the Queen of Cliff Notes in high school and college. But do we want our lives to be cliff-noted?
I actually want to enjoy watching my children grow up. I don’t want shortcuts for their childhoods. I don’t want technology to come before getting to know my children. Yes, being a parent is hard. But we’re making it harder than it’s ever been before, and certainly harder than it has to be. Do they need to have a different activity every single day? Between sports, dance, gymnastics, guitar lessons, swim team, play dates, birthday parties and recitals we are in our cars more than we are at home (where quality time is enjoyed). Besides, when they are bombarded with constant activities, they have no idea what to do with themselves when they’re bored. They need to be in a state of constant stimulation. And why not? We are too! How often do we look up from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat? CNN, IHeartRadio, DVR, E! News? When they see an Apple product in their parent’s faces ’round the clock, how can we expect them to not do the same?There have already been 21 deaths in 2016 of children being left in hot cars. 21. Why? Think about it: It’s certainly not because of a lack of love for the child.
Being in a state of constant frenzy also equates to caring less about the world around us. Our empathy for others have sharply decreased while our selfish impulses have steadily increased. So while it’s the norm nowadays to be overloaded, we must take it upon ourselves to slow down and smell the roses a bit. Being busy doesn’t always mean that we’re being productive. It certainly doesn’t mean that we are teaching our children to be laid back and easy-going. Instead, we are raising the next generation of hyperactive, entitled, always gotta go go go, “busy”bodies. We’re teaching our kids to bury their faces and never look up.
How can we stop this?
- First, you have to recognize that you have an obsession with technology. Stop lying; yes you do.
- Strive to be more present. Putting down our phones will make us more present in our own minds and hearts, which will extend to being more present in our children’s and neighbor’s lives.
- Eat dinner together. Yes, it’s possible if you make it a priority.
- Pray together. Showing verbal thanks for our abundant blessings reminds us of the many ways in which we are fortunate.
- Unplug. When you’re around your children or on a date with your spouse or hanging with a friend. Just do it.
- Get outdoors. Spending time in nature is scientifically proven to boost your mood, thus your physical being. Plus, there’s always a weed that needs to be pulled, and I am a firm believer that pulling weeds will make you feel like a boss.
- Exercise together. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health and clarity.
- Read together. Spend each night reading to your child. Not only will you instill a love of reading, you’ll give your child a routine to look forward to before bedtime each night.
- Prioritize extracurricular activities: Have your child choose one activity to enjoy at a time.
- Kick them out: Don’t feel as though every. single. second. of summer needs to be filled with playdates and fun. Turn off the television, confiscate the iPad and send their little behinds outside to ride bikes. As a matter of fact, kick yourself out too and join them. One thing we’ll never regret is spending time with our children.
Sorry for the rambling. This post seems to be a touch all over the place. Working on my laptop with my iPhone beside me dinging and buzzing and twirping, I’ve found it challenging to stay on track while writing this one. Now let me run and see what my family’s up to.