Are my devices dictating my days?

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It’s nearly 10 at night, my boys have been interrupting my sleep most nights lately and I’m tired…. But I’m also trying to sort something through in my head and I’ve found this to be a really good way of doing that… So here goes.

Today I spent 3 hours at a shopping centre.

My 4 year old was at Kindy today, and my friend and I decided to do the grocery shop in tandem. 2 grown ups, 2 kids, possibly easier than each doing our own separately. Definitely more fun.

As often happens with us, we got distracted. Shopped a lot, spoiled our kids, had a cup of tea and shared a muffin, and finally got around to food shopping while causing the average shopper to look over at us and frown..”why are these two grown woman laughing and having such a good time at Coles?”
Which we thought was quite hilarious but I’ve been thinking about it all day….

Why?

Well, today I went grocery shopping, spent time with a friend, and my baby and had a great time. Nothing too crazy about it…. So why isn’t every day like that?

My name is Tanya and I AM AN ADDICT

Not a substance, not alcohol or even smokes…. Im a technology junkie….
It must stop.

Today I was in the moment. Even though I did get a bit frustrated as the hours (did I mention it took 3.) ticked by. That was only because I knew poor Taj was going to be lucky to catch an hours sleep. Mostly I was just happy to be there, at that time, with those three people.

Stay with me….

When I’m at home, it can be quite different. I must admit my devices are my go to thing, when I’m frustrated with the kids, I pick up my phone and txt a friend. Could it wait until I next see them for coffee and a chat? Absolutely. Does it? No….

When the kids are having lunch (yes I’m ashamed of this one ) I more often than not, grab my 5 minutes quiet time with a cup of tea and my iPad. I play a game of words with friends or draw something, I catch up on some adult goss and ogle some inspirational cakes on facebook and then get back to the mummy and housewifery and cake making jobs I have to get to.

Am I saying I’m a bad Mum? No I’m not. I still feel confident that I am a good mum to my boys. Am I as good a mum as I can be? No. Am I a present Mum…. Not all the time no… And thats where things are going to change.

My husband and I were in the lounge room the other day. Our 1 year old was up past his bedtime (again) and I was waiting for him to burn out before giving him a breastfeed (yes… Still… But thats a whole other blog) and try him back in bed. So it’s 8 o’clock or later… I’m playing scramble with friends on my iPad. And Mr T is throwing a balloon around the room. Am I paying him attention… No not really (8 o’clock, surely that’s me time right?) and Taj walks up and hits me square in the face with a balloon. And my husband says “yeah I agree Taj, your little brother iPad is getting more attention than you tonight. ”

I HATE to admit this. But he was (a little bit) right. Sure it was late and I was tired and frustrated, but does that give me the right to not be present? How many funny things do I miss my 1 year old do, how many conversations have not been had with my 4 year old, or have I missed hearing him have with his brother (or a batman action figure for that matter) or not had with my husband (only during ad breaks of course)

If being present makes grocery shopping fun, does it make cleaning the toy room fun? Am I going to get all spoon full of sugar happy with the kids in the morning when I’ve packed my phone, iPod and iPad away?

I’m not saying I never spend time with the kids. I do. Lots of it, we still make things, and cook together, jump outside, play cubby houses, but maybe we don’t do that enough, maybe those times when I sneak off for a cuppa and ”my fix’ something really magic would have happened with the 3 of us and I missed it. MAYBE and heres the kicker, maybe, I can be the person that makes people frown and say “why is that grown woman having so much fun” all the time. Because life is pretty fun, and having friends, and kids and (most the time) a husband is pretty great, and if we weren’t rushing around trying to get things done, or trying to get “me time” or whatever other reasons we have for not being entirely present with those who we love the most, we’d find that
THIS MOMENT, RIGHT HERE, WITH THESE PEOPLE IS ALL THAT MATTERS…

Sometimes it’s hard to judge ourselves as mothers. It’s a tough gig and sometimes you take whatever help you can get. I have a friend in qld who I really only talk to on my devices. Our friendship would not exist now without reconnecting on Facebook and chatting on words with friends and realising we have similar values and beliefs. There were days when I was getting used to being a mother of two where those conversations were a lifeline.
Now, though, the devices have become a lifeline… And I’m not evening sinking.
I have some really good stuff going on at the moment. My life is good, My kid are fantastic and I want to be present for them.

So it’s time to ease up on the technology…. Less iPad and iPod and More I paint, I play-doh, I play and I pretend.

Im not saying my devices are evil… Maybe just that excessive consumption may be harmful to your health.

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Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson

When Steve Jobs died earlier this year. I really felt the loss in terms of the amazing products he had been a part of producing at Apple. I was also aware of his time at Pixar which produced movies that I have enjoyed since my Dad took my brother and I to see Toy Story.

iPods, iPhones, iPads and iTunes have changed the way that we do many things. I am constantly thankful to the technology that makes it possible for me to photograph my children and email them to my Mum in Queensland 5 seconds later. I use FaceTime to share moments with family such as Taj’s first bath with his big brother or Jayden reading Green Eggs and Ham in bed.

I’m not saying that these products were Jobs’ innovations alone but he had a clarity of design, amazing marketing skills and an intuitive knowledge of a product that we can’t live without that last week we never knew we needed.

This book was a great insight into what made Jobs’ tick. It wasn’t particularly well written and was in need of some editing but the detailed look at the people in Jobs’ worlds at both Apple and Pixar was just so interesting.

Everyone new that Jobs’ and Wazniak started Apple in a garage in the Silicone Valley but there were so many incredible feats of ingenuity in their rise to the top that it takes your breath away.

I felt the author let a few things slide that would have been very interesting to know about. For example much of the book detailed Apple’s “end to end” concepts – producing the iPod, iTunes store to work together and the fact that most of his late products are “closed” you can’t even change a battery, and no other developers can change your hardware etc. considering how often this was mentioned I was looking forward to hearing Jobs’ opinion on “jailbreaking” and “firmware” where Hackers open the closed software making it possible to put illegally downloaded content onto an iPod or iPhone for free. It is also possible to costomise icons, and access content that iTunes does not allow. Based on Jobs’ desire to control every aspect of the customer experience and also based on Apple’s hacker heritage I thought this was a big topic to leave untouched.

The chapters centre around different themes, mostly chronologically. I think that the editing may have been missing is some cases where a point has been covered earlier and is then echoed later on in the book, perhaps some people like the reminder … To me it makes a book feel clunky.

The best part about this biography is that although much of it is based on interviews with Steve himself, the biographer doesn’t fail to show the flip side of an argument and the way that Steve has a terrible way with people. In fact his wife apparently asked Isaacson to ensure that Steve was shown as true to life as possible. He was not a very nice person by most accounts. Tyrannical and pigheaded. He was a vegan and had strong opinions on his Zen lifestyle. It is amazing to read about his reaction to his cancer diagnosis and his dogmatic desire to pretend it would go away.

If you own an Apple product then this book is well worth a read. It will give you a much better appreciation of the minimalist design and the teasoning behind them that you have taken for granted.