Sparkles & Stretchmarks: A UK Parenting & Pregnancy Blog: Connection

Friday, 24 June 2016


I saw a video pop up on my Facebook timeline the other day it - it showed a series of kids playing in parks whilst their parents stood nearby looking at their phones. Scene after scene of darling child calling out to their parent to watch them, as that parent seemingly ignored their calls and focused on the screen in front of them.

It was just one of many similar videos and articles I've seen in recent months suggesting that us modern-day mummies are spending too much time looking at our screens and not enough time watching our kids.

And haven't we all had those accusations made about us before?! I know I have!!

The assumption that being "connected" via our phones, tablets etc is leading to us being disconnected from our kids and partners is one that a lot of people seem to make...but I tend to disagree.

I'll admit that the amount of time I spend on my phone has worried me in the past, and it's something I've tried to curb - it can be difficult these days to know when to disconnect and getting the balance right is certainly something I've struggled with, so I can fully appreciate that it can be a problem...but should we always assume that any time a parent is using their phone when we think they SHOULD be looking at their child, we are automatically correct?

When I saw that video, it didn't encourage me to get off my phone and go give my children my absolute undivided actually made me a little angry.

I'm the kind of person who worries a lot, you see...I worry about everything there could possibly be to worry about.

I worry endlessly about whether or not I'm savouring the moment enough, I worry about whether I'm enjoying my kids childhood the point where worrying about enjoying it is actually detracting from the enjoyment.

I worry when I'm out and about with the kids about what other people are thinking of me and my parenting...if I'm on my phone at all I worry that people will be watching and judging me for it, assuming I'm not paying enough attention to my kids, assuming I'm taking them for granted and not living in the moment enough, assuming i'm simply "wasting time" on facebook or doing some other unimportant thing that I should be putting aside to focus on my kids.

But while I fully appreciate that phones and electronics CAN take up too much of our time and focus, I also think that not enough credit is given to how much of a help they can be to modern-day parents...and how beneficial they can actually be to us AND our children.

If I'm out with my kids and you see me on my phone, you may assume I'm simply not paying attention to them because I'm busy flicking through social media or simply killing time in some other meaningless way.... but I can almost guarantee you that won't be the case...

9 times out of 10, what I'll actually be doing on my phone will be work related - I work from home and one of the perks of that is that I can take a little break to take my kids to the park for an hour every now and then, because if I need to check in on an important work email, or send a quick invoice or whatever else - I can do it quickly and easily from the park on my phone. It will take me a few moments and then I can be back to my kids...having fun, enjoying the day, spending time with them.

And yes, I may have glanced away for a few moments while I did that task (And if I'm looking away, Jon will be there to take over...) but then I'm right back in the moment...present with them...and they're out having fun instead of stuck at home while I'm working away in my office.

If I'm not working from my phone, then I can pretty much guarantee you that whatever else I'm doing on it is related to my kids in some way.

For example, right now I have 5 browser windows open on my iPhone - two of them are online stores where I have items for my sons birthday in my basket ready to check out, one of them is a baby clothes site where I'm looking for outfits for my baby son for a holiday we have coming up, one of them is the NHS website where I was googling the symptoms of reflux in babies because I've been worried my little one might be suffering with it and the final one is a nursery school page which I left open to get contact details so I can call about visiting them with my eldest.

All of these things are tasks that need to be done, and if I wasn't doing them on my phone - I would be dragging my kids around stores to complete them, trying to make them sit quietly while I called the people directly instead of just completed the tasks online....

All of these are things for my kids benefit...none of them are things for me.

Phones are lifelines to modern day parents in more ways than one - not only can they arrange their childs doctor appointments and nursery visits from them, check medical symptoms, make purchases for them, order their food shopping to avoid dragging their kids around the shops, pay bills, work and earn a living - but they can also make important connections with other mums and dads.

When you're a stay at home mum, life can get quite lonely...mums like me in particular who suffer with social anxieties can find it hard to get out there, mingle and make "mum friends"...but as much of a cliché as it seems, mum friends are SO important to have.

You need to talk to people who can relate to what you're dealing with sometimes, you need to know that your child isn't the only one going through a certain phase, you need people to confide in when it's getting a bit too much, people to bounce ideas off of...people who just understand where you're at on your parenting journey and to walk alongside you.

When I was pregnant with my first son, I joined up with a thread on a baby consisted of 8 other mums from around the world whose first babies were all due within 3 weeks of mine.

I chatted to that group of mums-to-be every day throughout my pregnancy - we shared our experiences of first scans, midwife visits, birth plans and fears - and once we'd all given birth we connected on Facebook and set up a little group to keep in touch.

Now, 3 years on, we are all still active members of that group and most of us talk almost every day - our children go through their various stages and phases together and it's a godsend to have those mums to talk to who can relate and are going through it too.

That group of girls have become my go-to when I'm feeling down, when I've had a terrible day, when I need some advice, when I just need to have a friendly chat - they're my support network and I can't imagine how I could have got through the last 3 years without them.

They were the very first people I told when I found out I was expecting my 3rd baby.

 We've helped each other through such a variety of things - relationship problems, child health scares, depression and anxiety issues, family dramas - you name it, and we've probably discussed it over the last few years!

And you can pass that off as time wasted on my phone which could have been spent staring at my children, but surely every parent needs a support network and isn't it a wonderful thing that being connected can actually connect us in such a positive and meaningful way to people around the world, who can have such a positive and helpful influence on our parenting journeys?

Isn't it better for our children that we have people right there that we can reach out to in times of depression or loneliness, to get us through...just a few keystrokes away?

Isn't a wonderful thing that being so connected allows me to work from the park with my kids, rather than being closed off in my office while they're spending their day indoors?

Isn't that something to be embraced and appreciated?

Sure it's important to get the balance right, and of course we should all be appreciating our children...watching them...spending quality time with them.

But next time you see me or any other mother looking at their phone when YOU think we should be looking at our children, please think don't know what we're doing on our phones or how beneficial it might be to those children.

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  1. I think you're right - life is about balance - and one glance away doesn't a bad parent make. Thanks for linking to #PoCoLo - and my brain always has at least 10 tabs open! ;)

  2. Fabulous post! I also worry about getting my phone out in public and what other people think of me if I do. I know I shouldn't care but I do. I also work from home and half an hour in the park (when I have my eye on the children, don't get me wrong, I don't just leave them) is the only time I get in the day when I can think about something other than my children (like five minutes for a work email). I am so lucky that I do work from home and therefore can be "connected" with my children for almost the entire day but sometimes I just need a break! A chance to connect with others like you say, or send a work email so that I am not thinking about sending the email for the entire day (and therefore not connecting enough with my children, probably). And anyway if I am not working I am normally researching an activity to do with my children. But also, why should it matter if I fancy going on Facebook for 5 minutes in the park? I have small children with me from 6am until bedtime (between 7pm and 10pm depending on the day), with absolutely no let up, I squeeze in working around that when I can, and sometimes my brain is just plain fried. So I connect to Facebook and think about something different for a few minutes... Sorry to have gone on a bit, this was a wonderful post and I am so glad it is not just me worrying about these things!

  3. I love this post! I see these articles all the time and I have to admit they give me terrible guilt any time I get my phone out in public as I start worrying whether people are looking and judging. But it's just the reality of life as a modern parent - you're right, so much of what I do on my phone is related to my child. Even if I am just browsing facebook, I still don't feel that that should result in judgement of my parenting - becoming a parent doesn't instantly mean that you have to spend every waking minute hovering over your child. I do feel as parents now, we feel so much more pressure to be engaged with our children in play constantly - when I was a child we would play outside in the street without my mum supervising us, so we had plenty of space to explore things ourselves which I think is a positive thing. Of course, there's a balance to be had, but I think as parents we're always conscious of the balancing act. Thanks so much for linking up with us at #SharingtheBlogLove! I really hope we'll see you again next week!

  4. I love this Hayley. You are so right people make a judgement in a split second and they have no idea what that person is doing on their phone. But to be honest does it really matter, we can't watch them 24/7 it's impossible. But I do feel like I'm judged when I'm out and get my phone out and really I shouldn't. Thank you for joining us for #SharingtheBlogLove Laura X

  5. Thank you so much for speaking out on this topic! Those types of videos always make me feel horribly guilty but your post is a reminder that whenever I'm in my phone is usually related to ways to help my son, be a better parent etc. I also do a lot of advocacy work for postnatal depression and this makes me feel good and benefits my own mental health, and ultimately helps me be a happier mum for my son (as well as helping others hopefully). And, as you said, I'm often checking my work emails and I work for the benefit of my family so ultimately I don't have too much to feel guilty about after all lol! Thanks for sharing xx #sharingthebloglove

  6. I love this post - there are so many benefits to be so connected through our phones which get forgotten about. Yes it can be too easy sometimes to get distracted and not pay attention (and I've been guilty of that one) but like you, I work from home and the phone makes it so much easier to keep track of things. We've had days out at Legoland and I've used the time while the kids are watching the Lego Friends show to catch up on a couple of emails - they're having a fab day out and I get to do some work too - win-win. #ablogginggoodtime

  7. I always get phone guilt when I'm in the garden with the children the neighbours catch me scrolling! Recently I'm usually on Instagram looking at all the other lovely pictures, while getting new play ideas (multi tasking you see!). Times are changing, children shouldn't be under constant supervision - by that I mean eyeballing them all the live long day. 'In the good old days' (oh dear) you could be out on the street playing with your friends, without watchful eyes. That's often when the best risk taking and learning experiences come about.

  8. Great post and so true - I see nothing wrong with a mum sat in the park on her phone at all - the park is one of the few places where I have a few minutes where I can just take a minute and relax whilst my son plays in what is a very safe environment and where he isn't so dependent on me. I don't see any harm checking a few emails or facebook whilst I'm at the park - after all its one less thing I have to do later on when he really does want my attention. #sharingthebloglove

  9. Can I give you a virtual hug! This is just what I needed. Since starting blogging I do spend longer on my phone at home but when out I get rubbish signal any way so don't use it much, but I worry when at home. My son is content though. I have a group of friends that I chat to online now and I'm a much happier person for it! Well done for featuring on #SharingtheBlogLove

  10. What a brilliant post! I am so glad that it is featured on #sharingthebloglove because I wouldn't have seen it otherwise, and you TOTALLY nail it! As an over-worrier myself, I panic about using my phone and scare myself by picturing my kids as teenagers of the future, completely ignoring me because that's what I did when they were little. But you're right - they are so useful and I love how you've demonstrated that using phones BENEFITS the children. Really, really great post! #sharingthebloglove


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