Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Connecting in a Digital World
Finding balance among the chaos

by Mary Susan Buhner

March 01, 2012

I used to spend a lot of time with my grandmother when I was a little girl. As a matter of fact, I adored her so much that as a young adult, I spent a lot of time with her then too. I liked being around her. She was always busy, but a different kind of busy that I know now as a mother. Looking back, to me, it seemed to be a productive busy. She was always baking, gardening, canning, or sewing. I am sure it was sometimes tedious work for her like carpool is for me today.

Looking back, it seems so romantic to me as an adult now. Picking apples from a tree in the backyard and moments later making a fresh apple pie from them. I crave that kind of productivity now. Pick, bake and eat. Magic? I wish. Thinking about it, I don’t think it is magic so much, but rather, a form of balance. Finding that balance between carpool, Facebook, Twitter and a simpler time is a hard and complex task nowadays. I am not saying we should start canning or hanging our laundry on a clothes line, but maybe just be aware and deliberate about our productivity. After all, our kids are watching us and they will model our behavior.

Recently, my oldest daughter turned 12-years-old. At her sleepover birthday party, I realized that something was different from last year’s sleepover. All the girls were texting, using their iPod Touches, or whatever with whatever gadget they brought with them. I observed for the first hour and couldn’t believe nobody was stopping. They were all sitting together on the floor of our basement using their gadgets. I had a flashback to my grandmother picking apples and asking me to help her peel them to make a pie. What was happening? How can I stay current in a world forever texting, but keep one foot in a simpler time?

Without thinking about it too long, I announced to all the “tweens” at the party to hand over their devices to me. I put them in a big bowl and set them on top of my grandmother’s piano. I stated to them that of course they could call their parents or answer any incoming calls from parents. I asked as I passed around the bowl to collect their devices, “Who are you texting, anyway?” They all replied, “Each other.” I thought to myself, that is so lame. Instead, I nodded and smiled.

I was not sure if I would be labeled as the “uncool” mom or a “mean mom,” but honestly, I didn’t really care. Tonight, my goal was to have them connect with one another. Taking away their iPod Touches and phones gave them permission to do just that. They played games, giggled and talked. Imagine that?

As moms, it is tough to find balance in the daily chaos in today’s world. Not just for us, but for our children too. I totally understand the progress, importance and support these methods of communication today. I am the first to admit that I text (never when driving), e-mail, and Facebook. I get it. It is a real part of our world today. What is new for us moms, however, is how to find the balance with it not only for ourselves, but for our children.

When do we engage in it and when do we stop to pick apples and make a pie? The only answer I can come up with is balance. Seek it out, make it happen and stick to it. After all, the worst that can come from it is a bunch of unanswered calls/texts. The upside is - the sound of your family connecting (a.k.a. talking actually with one another), laughing and of course, the homemade apple pie!