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Blackberries @ the Playground: Do You?


I'm not talking about picking wild blackberries at the park, which sounds perfectly lovely.  Nope.  I'm talking about the inability many of us have to disconnect from work while with the kids - whether at the playground (works well while pushing a swing), out for coffee, wherever. 

I love the Wall Street Journal's The Juggle blog, and they were talking about this just today.  Here's what one mom said:

The BlackBerry is usually by my side and I know I am not the only mom feverishly answering emails or checking in from the playground at 6:00pm on a Wednesday or on the weekend.

What about you?  Does that thing - or just your cell phone, for those of us who have resisted the mobile email thing - travel with you everywhere?  How do you draw the line between work and home?  As a part-time worker, this can be especially challenging when your co-workers are busy-busy while you're hanging at Jamison Square.  One way, of course, is to leave it at home.  We visited Mt Rainier last weekend and delightfully, there was no cell service or internet connections at the place we stayed.  Love that.  Go ahead, draw the line for me!


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I for one can't handle the guilty feeling of not keeping in touch enough with work, friends, family. The second I send an email, striking it off of my to-do list, another one comes along. I'll make a few phone calls, then that generates a whole new list of things to do while I'm trying to enjoy the precious moments alone with my son. So, much to the frustration of my husband, I have abandoned my cell phone. I rarely charge it, rarely remember to bring it along. I do check my work email from home but only the nights before I have to go to work. It is a hard decision because I know I could be doing so much more to enhance my career but at what cost to my sanity?

It's my watch, among other things!

I have never been too hooked on my cell phone...most of the time it's just my husband or mom trying to reach me because they've tried at home and got no answer. Often times I leave it in the car or in my purse and when I go to make a call it's run out of battery so I have to charge it before I do anything with it.

However...last week for my birthday my husband got me an i-Pod Touch (it's basically the i-phone without the phone part) and I have to say, it's very cool and very addictive! He's already told me a few times to put it down already! I think he's just jealous... :)

I don't have a problem with this - well, first of all, I don't have a blackberry and I don't want one! I telecommute from home and I never feel guilty about not being in touch with work. I do my work - full-time - and then I'm done! I occasionally check email after hours, but even that is rare, since the office is upstairs and we do most of our living downstairs.

A little girl, around 8 years old, came up to me at the park the other day and asked me where my phone was. I happily replied, "I didn't bring it with me." Shocked and being 8, she peppered me with many more questions about it. I've been on both sides, but it really is a good feeling to leave it behind and live in the moment. They won't want to play with you forever!

The other day I was amazed at a mother who truly was completely ignoring her children to text or do something similar on her gadget. I found myself thinking--"put that thing away! (unless it's an emergency, which it didn't appear to be) and hang out with your children!" The kids kept trying to get her attention and she was oblivious. It was kind of sad to see.

Lord! I feel gulity enough for emailing at home with the around! Though I do get pretty obsessive with the internet when the kids are sleeping, I could see how a blackberry could lead me down a bad path.

Really though, it's these little moments of connection with our kids that make up who they are and what they take to their other relationships - the rest can wait.

i have a blackberry and it actually keeps me sane. due to my very active 10 month-old, it is the primary way that i am able to stay connected to friends and family. since she is attached to my hip - yes, i do check it and sometimes respond while multi-tasking motherhood duties but such is life. i rarely chat on the phone due to time restraints. i have always tried to live by the motto: everything is moderation. there are many, many worse crimes to commit as a parent than sending a quick, important text while walking into Book Babies.

I always have my blackberry with me. This actually affords me the time to spend with my baby. Without it I would be tied to my home office and land line. With the Blackberry I can go to the Zoo or beach and answer quick emails at the same time. Meanwhile none of my clients need to know that I am enjoying some time away from the office and I do not need to feel guilty about the work/ family balance. It is OK to be a working Mom as long as you make sure your child is the priority and they feel loved by you.

Turn it off, leave it at home, whatever you need to do...be *present* with your kiddos, you can't get that time back with them...ever. Enjoy it. You'll be glad you did and so will they.

I think this is a topic where I've been on both sides and you could use any number of things to stand in for the blackberry, another time, another distraction. while I absolutely agree with being present, on the other hand, an occasional text or twitter or answered email, well, not the end of the world. texting nonstop while your kids are saying, 'mommy mommy mommy watch this! mommy! mommy!' -- maybe, not such a great thing.

every time I think I've figured out the right answer to the question, a new passion comes along and sweeps me away. am I an inattentive mama when I knit while I'm at the playground? what if I'm engrossed in gossip with another mama while they're ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the elephants at the zoo? if my children have happily engaged with other kids, I'd argue that I'm letting them 'free range.' do I deserve excoriation for participating in a conference call while they play because we spent too much time at the farmer's market and I can't get home to ignore them there? maybe, maybe not.

I think we are likely just as guilty of getting swept up in other things while at home as we are out at a park or the zoo or anywhere; it's just that when we're out our digital habits are in the public eye, available for judgment. whether it's the laptop or cleaning the bathroom, the blackberry or a nice trashy celeb magazine, as long as there's some balance i don't have a problem with it. what about putting on a PBS video while you cook dinner? you're not 'present' then either.

when do we cross the line between caring for ourselves (whether that be reading a good book or furthering our career) and giving our children appropriate attention? must good parenting be about entirely sublimating our own interests to focus every moment on our progeny? i'm asking this more because it's something i've been considering lately than because i've come up with an answer. i think most of our behavior rides the line, not entirely healthy for our children, but not entirely servicing our own sanity, either.

the 'juggle' blog goes into an entirely separate debate about whether we should be attentive during sports practices/rehearsals (probably not so much, unless we'd like to be the future helicopter parents of america) and whether we're ruining the world for ourselves by setting the bar to 24/7 availability (probably so, and i think i'll just go *not* answer the email i was going to answer at 11:45 p.m...) i wish i could 'do my work, full time, and then be done.' i need to work on that.

but just to show that our generation doesn't have inattention all buttoned up, my husband was just telling me today about how his mom was reading a harlequin romance novel while he scored his very first touchdown, ever. at the end of the game she asked him, 'did your team win?' his feelings, clearly, were devastatingly hurt.

I usually have a phone with me. It doesn't ring much, but calling grandma and grandpa is a good diversion every now and then. I also use it to tweet and mobile blog, because I'd forget half the fun things she does by the time I got home.

If a mom is lucky enough to score a job she can do remotely from home, so she can be present to raise her kids AND bring in some income, the Blackberry isn't the bad guy here. He's what allows the mommy or daddy to take their kids to the park or to the zoo. Bringing my laptop to the library during story time is what allows us to get out of the house. And I know my daughter would prefer that than being in daycare.

I was lucky enough to have had littles when cell phones were rare, 14 and 12 years ago. Only one mom in our playgroup even owned one and it was for "emergencies". I do get incredibly irate when I see little kids competing for face time with a mommy or daddy that's on the phone. Put the damn thing away. Be with your kids when they are awake and ready to play. Save the calls for other times.

I love my blackberry, but I often forget to charge it. I'm trying to get better because it is useful for emergencies and so my spouse and family can get ahold of me. I do check work e-mail. I have told people at work repeatedly that I prefer e-mail to phone calls and I find that easier to check just when I have time while still feeling in touch. I much, much prefer a blackberry to a cell phone - phone calls are much more distracting to me. Luckily no one is into texting me.

I guess I don't care if you're using your blackberry or not. I just don't want to listen to your phone call!

Well, my current phone doesn't do much other than make phone calls, so it doesn't distract me much. But I do feel like I've got to have it with me at all times, in case of work-related calls (I'm a freelancer), though often at the playground I'll be watching my three-year-old run around while also chatting with a friend. But often when I do that I feel like I'm not giving either my kid or my friend my full attention, and I hate feeling that scattered. I also don't like to have extended conversations in earshot of others; it seems rude.

But soon I'm getting an iPhone, so I may find myself doing email or texting or checking Facebook updates more often ... I usually feel more relaxed when I know I don't have any urgent emails to answer.

Though today I was at OMSI and a kid of about eight or nine came up to me and asked to use my phone so he could find his mom (who was also in OMSI, but he had lost her). That made me feel good to be useful. Though it turned out she was just 20 feet away!

My blackberry affords me the freedom to be with my son more. I did freelance/contract work until he was almost two and only looked at it when the red light started blinking if he was awake. Now I work full time from home but only some of those hours are tied to the computer thanks to the blackberry. I actually just got an iPhone and I LOVE it. I do still keep my work email on a separate blackberry so I can put it away when I'm really off the clock. Coworkers know to only text me if it's urgent.

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