Parenting and Technology

Technology and Moms. I am certain a group of moms could talk for hours on this topic! It’s a common thread when I am with my other friends who are also parents and it is also a thread I interact with on a DAILY basis in our home.

How much is too much?

How can I keep up?

How do I protect my kids?

Generally, most Moms I know hate that their sons especially love video games as much as they do and they work tirelessly to get their kids to do something-anything else! Go outside! Play a sport! Build something! Ride your bike! Talk to a real person who is in the room with you!

I struggle with what the right balance is for our kids. I learned to type on an electronic typewriter people. In high school, I was still passing real paper notes. I’m not even 40! Technology has grown by leaps and bounds in my generation. In fact, we are the generation that has one foot in each world; a world with an abundance of technology and a world we remember with more limited technology. I hope this makes me famous in my kids eyes one day….

On the one hand, I loathe technology because I cannot stay on top of how fast it moves and changes. I figure out one thing only to find out I have figured out a concept that is already 6 years old. I am grateful for my husband and for every computer nerd I know because I need them. Just this week my 8-year old has locked himself out of his iphone (thinking he’d be sly and change his pass code so his brother can’t get into it…and then he forgot it) and my husband cannot figure out how to fix it!

If you are a parent and you take your child to any sort of “boring” place, the DMV, a doctor’s office, parent/teacher conferences and you hand your child a piece of technology, you already know some people will give you seething looks of disapproval. They’ll scoff about how kids don’t need an ipad in front of their face in every down moment of their life.

The trouble is-I TOTALLY agree. But sometimes, I HAVE to accomplish something that is boring, long and tedious-and all my little people have to come with me. I don’t always bring out the technology for every errand. However I do use it occasionally.  I have educational apps on my devices too!

I don’t want to keep my children away from the fast pace that technology moves. They are already surpassing me with their intuitiveness and I believe it is because of the access they have had to technology. (And don’t even get me started on how this is going to cause greater gaps between educated privileged people and those who have poor education and no access to technology!) I want my kids to have these skills because the technology we utilize now will be archaic by the time my kids are in college. And I will need them to teach me how to use it so they will still talk to me. 🙂

All that to say, here is our family’s technology rules so far. Our rules seek to strike a balance between creativity, experiencing boredom and problem solving as well as good old fun indulgence with what they like. And I say this in hopes that it is helpful!

1.) No video games on school nights. M-Th find something else to do with your time. Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday is free play

2.) No video games or television after dinner. Once we’ve eaten dinner, you must find something else to do with your time, unless it’s family movie night.

3) Children in our home will never, ever, ever, ever, ever have a television in their room so long as they live under this roof. Period.

4) 30 minutes of a hand held device free play is allotted daily to each kiddo provided they have done their chores

5) You must ask permission before you add friends, enter a conversation or purchase something on the xbox

6) Mom and Dad will look at every message you send on your phones/hand held devices or in other venues of technology. Just know we are watching you.

So far, these are the only rules we have needed in our home. It has been enough, but I know that all this will change soon. None of our children are allowed on Snap Chat, Instagram or Facebook or any other social media/image sharing app (they are 4, 8 and 11 though). I am always reading and investigating, asking and researching what other parents have done. If you have instituted some amazing boundary in your home that works, won’t you share it here in the comments section?

I hope that we can all share ideas and learn from our failures and successes. I think we all long for our kids to be happy and have fun while learning as they grow not just about technology, but about life and about themselves. Thanks for reading!

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Don’t Quit Your Day Job-Part 3

Welcome! This is my final post in a series about how I decided to become a stay at home mom (SAHM) and the new adventure I’m on as I wrestle with school-age children 10 years after quitting my day job. Join me in my new adventure by reading Part 1  and Part 2 of my story and then follow along as my path is uncovered and discovered in future posts in 2017.

I used to hate the question that inevitably follows whenever I share that my youngest child is starting Kindergarten this fall; “What are you going to do Tiffany?”

Initially, I hated the question because I felt tremendous pressure from myself to go out and get a job. I felt like that is what I was expected to do. The pressure I felt wasn’t even need generated. Our family had made it for 10 years on one income plus whatever little extra I could pull in on the side. But the idea of a societal expectation and my perception that I was unprepared to meet it; That idea made me feel completely inadequate and worthless. Who would have me?!

I have wrestled with overwhelming feelings of worthlessness since my third child had been born. Do I matter? What do I even do? Do I have relevant skills for the world we live in? It produced in me all sorts of bashfulness and even shame. My major was communications and I have a bachelor’s degree, sure. But I haven’t mingled in the world of technology for 10 years. When I first started my dream job, I was using PageMaker by Adobe! I had just convinced the church to move towards Adobe’s new suite and utilize InDesign when I quit. Can we talk about how much has changed in 10 years?!

Time and again as I pondered my questions, my answers truly frightened me. I felt like a no-talent, out of date, old Mom (EW) and I just kept squashing my feelings of inadequacy down and down.

But that growing whisper wouldn’t be silenced. My heart kept hearing a call, “What do you want?”

Last summer, my dear friend and fellow writer Kayla Smith asked me to read a book with her. I mentioned it in Part 2 of this post. Dan Allendar’s book, To Be Told introduced me to a scandalous invitation and helped me hear better the voice in my heart. What if God is inviting me to co-author the story of my life? How would that change the decisions I make today as this new opportunity looms? It certainly helped me pay attention to that growing whisper I couldn’t silence anymore.

So at the close of last summer, as I sent my kids back to school, I said to myself, “Fine. What DO I want?” and I gave myself full permission to explore an answer.

That is where God met me, and He invited me to wait. He invited me to a mystery. (That’s so something He would do, isn’t it?)

The waiting He invited me to is not the waiting that is boring or painful though; it is beautiful, hopeful and mysterious. It’s like waiting for a baby to be born and having your arms ache to hold and snuggle the squirming child. It’s like waiting for a delicious meal to be served and smelling all the mouth-watering smells as it is prepared and your stomach growls with anticipation.

He whispered to me that I CAN do whatever I want. He told me that the pressure I feel is not pressure I must succumb to because it is not from Him. As I talked with my amazing and sweet husband, he told me too that I can do whatever I want. Suddenly there was all this freedom surrounding me and all sorts of invitations to taste and see what the Lord is up to in this little life of mine. I learned that I can explore my options. I learned that I don’t have to have a definitive answer. He told me I can stand on His promise to be blessed and be a blessing and it changed everything for me.

I know in my heart that I’m not quitting my day job. Just like the Moms who have career paths and work 8-5 and just like Moms who are SAHMs, we will always be committed to the children God has given us. It’s our calling and our position and our love. I will always be called to their needs and I will have to lay my life down in new ways all the time-and I will do so joyfully (though maybe I will complain a bit sometimes).

In the mean time, if you ask me that previously dreaded question, my answer is the same but totally different. I don’t know what I’m going to do. But I am delighted to confidently wait on God to show me what opportunities I CAN do with all the talents and skills He has given me. I am challenged to pray in new ways about the time that is coming. I am challenged to dream up new things and I feel tremendous freedom to explore what that looks like. In some ways I feel like my years-long writers block I have wrestled with is dissipating. The fog is still there but I can’t wait to see what’s on the other side.

I’ll just be a Mom and something else….

In the mean time, I have decided I am going to soak up every moment of the present as the gift that it is to me and our family. I haven’t read Present Over Perfect yet, but I love the idea of it that Shauna Niequist has introduced to Christians. I want to take in what is today and be willing to wait on a good God to show me the invitations He has for me. His timing in my story past has always been right, though it has not been mine. It will be right in this new season too.

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Thanks for listening and joining me in my 10 year milestone. I can’t wait to see what God does next!