Anyone else feel like they need a wee holiday away from their phone? The realisation hit me the other day when I realised that I’d watched ten TikTok videos back to back on cleaning hacks. One of these clips featured, and I kid you not, a ‘professional cleaner fromWisconsin’ who had the ground-breaking idea of lifting the loo roll holder and toilet brush off the floor to clean under them, instead of cleaning AROUND them. Swear to God, this was the crux of her video. I mean, who knew? I watched several reels on oven cleaning. I am never going to clean my own oven. Even if my state of penury dictates that I’ve to subsist on baked beans for a solid month and endure the fall-out from my small intestine, I will still be ringing Sam the Oven Man and giving him fifty quid for his expertise.
Emma Brockes, one of my favourite writers from the Guardian, has been ruminating on a similar topic this week, when she discovered the accidental pleasure of taking her children to the park minus her phone. Her first reaction was one of panic (oh, how I can identify!) but in the end she rather enjoyed it. She was interested in seeing where her mind wandered, when not fixated on a little pixellated screen. Birds mainly (and not angry ones), was where it went, and she enjoyed watching a few sparrows have the craic. She surprised herself with how enjoyable it was, noticing the sun on her face and the sense of relief, really, at just allowing herself to be ‘off’ for a while. Her twins too, noticed her new found calm and ask that she leave the phone at home in future.
I can dentified with this t. Sometimes I look at the cherry blossom and wish I could just appreciate the candyfloss-ish loveliness of it, instead of working out how best to capture it on camera. In Fuengarola a few years back (a surprisingly nice town by the way, and not deserving of the slating it gets.) the kids and I found a park which was home to an abundance of bright green parrots. Noisy little buggers they were too, and most industrious, flitting from tree to tree, squawking away merrily. I sipped café con leche while taking in the scene. A pigeon pecked at crumbs nearby and I noticed he had a banjaxed foot, but still strutted around with as much dignity as he could muster. He was there again the next day. We have a habit of naming creatures we met and the go-to name is Cedric, but given his Spanish heritage we christened him Cedriqué. We still think of him fondly.
I’m not saying we should ditch our phones all time. It feels like a win to catch up on jobs and the never ending ‘What’s App groups when we get five minutes. It’s hard to win at this mothering lark. You’re either vilified as a helicopter parent for being hyper-vigilant, or neglectful when you’re not hanging on their every word and applauding loudly when they scale the climbing frame. I do worry though, that there will be a generation of kids with issues because every time they shouted ‘Watch me mummy!’ mum was watching a ‘Get Ready with Me!’ video and missing the first time they broke the land speed record going down the slide. At least therapists in twenty year’s time will be raking it in.
Send me your thoughts, and I’ll try to check them when I’m not in the presence of a child and likely to be accused of ignoring them.