Parenting is a competitive sport. From the moment the line appears on the stick, it seems to be natural to begin jockeying for position. Medicated or natural birth? Breastfeeding or bottle feeding? Homemade baby food or store bought? The list never ends. I’m sure we have all met that mom on the playground (or at least seen the totally hilarious parodies of these moms) who are eager to play the game of oneupmomship. Even if we do manage to steer clear of these bastions of parenting failure, it is often the pressure that we put on ourselves that haunts us the most.
As a traveling mom, the subject of electronics versus no electronics is a subject that causes me to constantly compare. Our family is firmly and mostly comfortably on Team Electronics, but just when I convince myself that using electronics on a long trip is a great parenting move, I read about some family who is traveling 3000 miles while humming kumbayah in four part harmony and discussing politics with nary a Nintendo or DVD player between them.
The more I read about those shiny moments of family bonding, the more I am convinced that I will never be nominated for mom of the year. To be fair, I think I gave up my chance at that when I started letting the baby listen to the best of queen as a lullaby, so electronics are just one of a long list of things where I've missed the cream of the crop cutoff.
Instead of subjecting myself to yet another walk down mommy guilt lane, I've decided it's best to embrace Team Electronics and create a list of
excuses reasons that using electronics on long trips is actually a wise parenting move.
We don't use electronics at home. As a rule,Nintendos,video games, even tv is very limited in our house (for the kids, Mama needs her Project Runway). On weekends, we loosen the reins, but screen time is limited during the week.
Kids need downtime while traveling. Traveling is tough on everyone, but little ones especially need something soothing and comfortable to help them relax when everything around them is different.
Parents need downtime while traveling. Really, after navigating the ticket counter, security, and car rentals with kids in tow, it would take superhuman abilities not to need to retreat into the cone of silence for a moment or two.
Portable, dependable and clothing optional
It's a portable, dependable, non-messy entertainment device. Nowadays there is almost nothing that can’t be done on an ithingy or other handheld device -it is veritably limitless source of entertainment for all ages. The pocket size makes it great for travel and easy to whip out and then put away with no fuss. Downloading a new game right before a long flight is a guaranteed entertainment winner. Who knew 99 cents could buy happiness?
I'm Outnumbered. There was a brief time in my parenting career when there were as many parents as kids. During those years it was feasible to focus on interacting as a means of entertainment, but those years of two or less children have passed. We long ago left man to man defense and moved into zone defense. With four kids, it's a prevent defense and we're just trying to not give up the long ball, ya know.
Photographic (and completely unstaged) proof that I spend time with my kids
I spend a lot of time with my kids. Trust me; I'm not just saying that to make myself feel less like a loser. I am homeschool mom so my kids are with me all the time. All that time spent together gives us plenty of chances to play games and sing songs and talk. By the time we go on a trip, everyone is plenty happy to zone out in their own personal space.
I want to be a good ambassador of family travel. Let's face it, kids+video game=a fairly silent traveling experience. At a time when many people view family traveling as anything from a nuisance to a downright personal affront, I feel a certain onus to ensure that my family is not perpetuating a negative image. Fellow travelers don't care how you achieve the silence, just so long as you do it.
There's no trophy for the most electronic free traveler. Or the most naturally fed family or the mom with the highest tolerance for glitter crafts for that matter. At the end of the day, most families are doing their best and sometimes that means giving up on an ideal or two. Its one thing to know when to strive for excellence, but sometimes good enough really is good enough.
Electronics make travel possible. Is it preferable and even more admirable to travel electronic free? Maybe. But, is it reasonable? Not for this family. And giving up family travel isn't in the cards for us either, so we compromise. I will always genuinely admire families who make the commitment to travel e-free (and promise myself I will only feel the teensiest bit jealous), but we are not destined to be that family. In the interest of a diehard commitment to seeing the world and taking the kids along for the ride, we'll keep traveling with suitcases in one hand and car chargers in the other.
This post is a part of Top Ten Tuesday at Oh Amanda