I thought it could be eye-opening to do a comparison of how technology has affected parenting, now and back when my mother was raising little ones. I sent my mother a list of questions to think about, and, thanks to the wonder that is the internet, she got me back her answers in record time. It was interesting for me to see her answers and draw conclusions based on this very scientific survey of one person. I’ve split up the questions and answers into three groups: communication, day-to-day, and takeaways. Today we’ll look at the difference technology has (or hasn’t) made in a mom’s day-to-day life. You’ll notice my thoughts/conclusions in italics.
Q. What forms of technology did you use the most as a mom with small children?
A. Really excited when the microwave oven was invented though in reality then, as now, only good for reheating but I really felt I was ‘high tech’ when your dad bought me my very first in the 80s, at a cost of $600 – a small fortune for us in those days. The most useful by far though, to keep you kids entertained, was the VCR.
Well, the microwave has <ahem> a much greater role in our day to day lives. When I was pregnant with our second child and so sick and miserable, I discovered store-bought frozen casseroles that I could pop in the oven or microwave. I can’t even tell you what a huge help they were to me. And I’m not gonna lie and say that we never eat them anymore. Because we do. A lot. As a matter of fact, I’m so deep in this microwave habit that I feel like I’m doing some home cookin’ when I lug out the crockpot. I may have to find a support group.
Things haven’t changed so much in the entertainment area, either. Only Netflix has replaced the VCR. The problem with Netflix is that it’s toooo easy. Michael has access to Netflix on his tablet, so when he finally drains the tablet of juice he goes into serious withdrawal. Maybe he needs a support group, too.
Q. One of the most stressful things I can attempt to do when I’m alone with the little ones is cook a meal from scratch. The crockpot and microwaveable casseroles have been lifesavers. How much cooking did you do when we were very small?
A. Culturally, I was conditioned to cook (from scratch) everyday and I did, though sometimes we would have leftovers. When hamburger helper came along, I thought it was the greatest, easiest thing, though it was reserved for lunch – the lighter meal.
This shames me. Can I truly call myself a Puerto Rican if I don’t make rice and beans five times a week? Actually, that’s the one meal I make that is truly from scratch. Well, I don’t actually make my own sofrito (nor do I want to, that would be like making my own bread), but you know what I mean.
Hamburger helper is still around, just not for me because I was never a fan. My hamburger helper-type go-to lunch for the kids is single-serving mac & cheese. And they love it.
Q. If I need information like a recipe, answer to a health question, directions to anywhere, I can get online and generally get the answer pretty quickly. What was it like to not have instant access to this type of information as a young mom?
A. My 6th grade teacher wrote in my autograph book: May you always frequent libraries” as yes I too was a bookworm and loved libraries. My father gifted me with a set of new dictionaries for my 12thbday as I thought I liked to write then, and also invensted in a set of old encyclopedias….that was the source of my research. Friends would share recipe cards.
We now give our kids laptops or e-readers when we want to share the gift of knowledge with them. Unfortunately, kids can get themselves into trouble surfing the internet unsupervised. I suppose that there were some, shall we say, PROVOCATIVE topics in a set of encyclopedias, but they could do only so much harm to a child. It’s sad to me that a search for knowledge can now lead children to dangerous sites and people. But the supervision needed can also be a positive because it requires us to be more in-tune and involved in our kids’ lives.
Q. I tend to spend my “down” time watching TV, reading a book on my iPad, or reading blogs/Facebook/Twitter. How did you spend your “down” time as a young mom?
A. I would dedicate time to a hobby; too frazzled to read in your early years, also watching tv.
I remember my mother doing macrame or working on ceramics. I’ve tried picking up crocheting again, but this season of my life isn’t conducive to a hobby. I may need to start looking at activities like crocheting as more than a hobby though. There’s something about working with your hands and creating something that can be done in community that is therapeutic.
Just from reading these questions and answers, I can see that day-to-day life has changed in the way some of us approach hobbies and in the way we need to supervise our children even when they’re at home doing homework (if a laptop is involved). You’ll never catch me saying that the internet is evil – it’s just a tool, like a hammer or frying pan. But it’s a tool that can pose a serious threat to our children, and should be treated with respect.
My husband and I are of the mind that we want our children to be comfortable with technology since it will be a significant part of their futures, but we can see that exposing them to the good/neutral while keeping them from the bad will sometimes be difficult and confusing.