When I told everyone I was expecting my first baby they all said ‘it’ll be the hardest, but most rewarding thing you’ll ever do in your life’…little did they know what was to come.
I’d smile, hold back the sickness that a green apple (because for some reason my growing child only accepted red apples) was about to bring, and think that there couldn’t be anything harder than dealing with all the symptoms of pregnancy. My clothes didn’t fit me anymore, I was constantly tired but couldn’t sleep and the heartburn was indescribable – and my daily life went on. How naïve.
However, I now find myself muddling through parenthood, basically making it up as I go along, whilst the world around me is in chaos with a pandemic virus upon us.
So with all the free time that cancelled baby groups and activities can afford me I am going to write a series of blogs about my journey into parenthood whilst living in lockdown.
We want him to be a good communicator, not scared to ask for help, be able to speak on the phone, be polite and say please and thank you. We want him to play outside like we did as kids, not be glued to a TV screen or tablet. He’ll not play video games in his bedroom, we’ll spend weekends out on bikes and at the park. We want to take him to music festivals, the fireworks and throw birthday parties for him with all his millions of pals.
These are the conversations we had as soon to be parents, as I am sure many others do too. We were positive our child wouldn’t be part of the generation that doesn’t play outside and can’t pick up the phone or go up to a counter and order food using words, not a screen.
At only nine weeks old I am certain we have plenty of time ahead of us to do these things with him. Social distancing has made me think about the way we do communicate and socialise with each other though, and how we are going to teach that to our son.
Lockdown has encouraged us to use technology more to socialise and despite not wanting my son glued to a screen – we take part in both a baby massage class and a baby and toddler class each week from his very bedroom. He stares at the screen and listens to the songs and rhymes. He gets everything out of the class that he should at this age, except being around other children.
I’m not a psychologist but I do wonder how this may affect his development – both negatively and positively. In the weeks where he has become more aware of his surroundings he has only been in the company of his parents and a cat, hearing and seeing everyone else through a screen.
Children that have already been used to using technology and the internet are now getting to see another side of it. They are now taking part in PE lessons through YouTube and have to rely on it to stay in contact with friends and family. It isn’t just all about memes and watching videos of other people playing video games (which is apparently a thing!) It can be all about communicating.
Parents and grandparents are now seeing the benefits of video calls, as are workplaces, doctors surgeries and everyone else in between. Our son may not yet be able to speak to his grandparents on the phone, but he can see them on the laptop screen.
We’ve taken socialising and technology for granted but now as we follow lockdown rules we are bringing the two together – not as an extra but as a necessity to keep in contact with those we normally see day to day.
So despite our best intentions, the beginning of our son’s social life has very much depended on screens. That’s okay though, it just means he only gets his cuddles from his Mum and Dad just now and we’ll make the most of that whilst we can.