Today’s guest post comes from Rachel Jeffcoat, who studied English at Oxford University half a decade ago. After a hard day’s work correcting grammar as an editor, she comes home to read, cook, play the piano once the neighbours have gone out, and spend time with her lovely husband. In September she plans to hang up her red pen in exchange for a baby bottle, but will not be giving up her attachment to the semicolon. She blogs at http://makealongstoryshort.wordpress.com.
Last night, I cried because I’d spent the whole evening on the computer.
I should preface this by saying that I am pregnant with our first child, and cry over everything from gone-off milk to Disney films. But this time I meant it: I am desperate to reform our family computer habits before our baby is born, and haven’t the slightest clue how to go about it.
My husband is soon to graduate in Computer Science and begin a career in IT, so we have something of a handicap before we begin. But our main difficulty is that we are both of a generation that has never been without computers. We have more laptops in the house than people, and we don’t use them primarily for email or computer games. They play our music and stream our television shows. They are photo albums, telephones, journals, dictionaries. They are facilitators. And so every time we institute another round of Family Computer Rules, No Really, This Time We Mean It and switch off our machines, they’re back on again within five minutes.
In my head I hear President Uchtdorf issuing dire warnings about ‘heartless chambers of isolation’ , and I think: I do not want this. I want to be a good mother. Granted, my hazy conception of ‘being a good mother’ at the moment ranges from teaching table manners to owning a fancy changing bag, but I would like my children to see me doing things that matter, rather than looking at status updates on Facebook. I want us to read, and paint, and cook, and play outside (is my rose-tinted vision of motherhood coming across yet?). There’s a great deal on the computer that is worthwhile and uplifting too – not least keeping in contact with transatlantic family – but we’ll have to draw the line somewhere. And so, with seven weeks to go, I need to find some boundaries that work and that are realistic. Otherwise, this little person is going to emerge from the womb exercising his mouse-clicking finger, and I’d rather he learned how to stretch his imagination instead.
What are the computer rules in your household? What do you use computers for, and how do you feel about your children using them?