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I’m a phone addict, and that’s okay

Before I had kids, using my phone was just something I did. I’d check my email, scroll my newsfeed, make some work calls, maybe send a message asking my husband what he was having for lunch.

Now my phone comes with a whole side of guilt.

If you read anything to do with smartphones and parenting, it’s all packed with how awful we all are for being glued to our screens. I see mums posting on online groups about seeing others at the park engrossed in their phones, or sharing judgey comments about people who check their emails when they are on playdates.

But I’d like to raise a flag in support of these phones.

In a world with no smartphones, life would be very different for my family. Sure, my husband and I wouldn’t get caught looking at them when we should be watching kids navigate the slide for the 13th time.

But we probably wouldn’t be at the playground in the first place.

I work from home so I can pretty much do my job from anywhere. If my son wants to go to the park, I can pack up my notebook, my pen and my phone and do that. We might take his little sister in the stroller and slowly walk there, stopping to investigate the neighbour’s garden and talk to a couple of cats on our way past.

But my phone will be with me, and I will – unapologetically – be keeping an eye on it, answering calls and replying to emails.

The occasional glance at the screen is what gives me the peace of mind that we can be out having fun, and that I am on top of work. If I did not have my favourite little device, I would have to stay home during any and all business hours, just in case something came up that needed immediate attention.

My phone actually increases the amount of time I get to spend with my kids. I can do the minimum required to keep things running during the day, conduct my interviews and arrange my ideas, and then plough through the bulk of the real work once the small people are in bed at night.

I also manage my sanity through my phone. If my son’s having a massive meltdown, I might take a minute to log on to my coffee group’s Facebook page and vent. I’ll get a couple of supportive messages in reply, and usually a good suggestion to calm both of us down. A couple of minutes later, we’re back on our way again.

Without my phone, I’d miss that connection and feel much more adrift and unsure of myself.

I would never advocate ignoring your kids in favour of your phone – I do my best to make sure that they never feel I’d rather focus on the piece of technology in the palm of my hand. Both my husband and I always put our phones down when we’re having dinner together as a family. At the weekend, I do my best to make sure my phone is in my bag as much as possible.

But I think it’s time to cut parents some slack. We need to stop bashing parents for their connection to the outside world.

Sure, they didn’t have cellphones, but my own parents were not 100 per cent focused on us all the time when we were children, either. Sometimes we would play alongside them while they did chores, read a book or watched TV. Heaven forbid, sometimes they were talking to each other – not to us.

How is the occasional glance at a phone any different? There is so much pressure for modern parents to focus on nothing but their kids, devising new and exciting ways to stimulate them for every waking hour – it’s patently unrealistic.

Anything that gives us flexibility and connection has to be good. For our kids to see us having fulfilling careers and juggling that with a family life that is clearly very important to us can only be positive.