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Really struggling with guilt about not being able to "parent"

(47 Posts)
thepeopleversuswork Wed 08-Apr-20 12:11:33

So I know that in the scheme of things I'm very lucky, first world problem compared to the many frontline people.

But I am really struggling with the guilt of having to work from home more or less all the time and not having any time to devote to my DD.

A little thing happened earlier this week which really made me feel shit: a well-meaning friend who is a SAHM dropped some food off in a socially distanced fashion and my DD asked her if her kids were playing a specific video game at the moment. Friend said "no, they're not allowed to go on screens so they don't know about this." I said in a crestfallen way that that option wasn't open to me as I was working. How shit did I feel?

DD essentially has to be on a screen a substantial part of the time or I can't work. Yes I do break it up a bit with enforced reading, time in the garden etc. But generally speaking she requires more input from me with these things. The beauty of a screen -- and the thing which makes it so dangerous -- is that they are able to stay on them longer, allowing more work to be done. If I take time out every half hour for home schooling/cooking etc I'm basically reneging on my commitment to work by massively slowing things down.

I know my friend wasn't trying to be hurtful and she has been a wonderful friend in many other ways. And she has her own struggles. But it did make me feel quite resentful that she has the luxury of being able to do all these lovely, ersatz Victorian childhood things with her kids and to feel superior to me because I have to shove mine in front of a screen in order to be able to guarantee enough undisturbed time to be able to work to pay the mortgage.

In the scheme of things its a minor whinge. But I do feel at the moment there's a real divide between those of us who can afford not to rely on screens and those who basically can't work without them and I feel fucking awful that I'm having to do it to my kid.

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ViciousJackdaw Wed 08-Apr-20 12:17:09

she has the luxury of being able to do all these lovely, ersatz Victorian childhood things with her kids

Does she though? Perhaps her days are full of '..but Muuuuum, MiniPeople is allowed to have a tablet, why can't I? It's not faaaaair'.

Clymene Wed 08-Apr-20 12:17:13

Your friend is not well-meaning - she's a spiteful smug knobhead.

LizzieMacQueen Wed 08-Apr-20 12:18:54

I don't think you said how old your child is but in any event, her future life will revolve around computers (well statistically speaking she's more than likely to have to work with them at some point) It is what it is and, these days, your friend's kids are the ones in the minority here.

There's a thread somewhere here on coping with working FT from home whilst home schooling. See if you can find it.

Don't be hard on yourself as you say, keeping a roof over your heads, food on the table trumps any middle class angst about screen time.

thepeopleversuswork Wed 08-Apr-20 13:14:12

Clymene I genuinely don't think it was intended to be smug -- she has plenty of problems in her own life. I just think its one of those things when you don't realise how your own privileges are available to others.

It did make me feel really defensive though. Obviously everyone has their own covid-19 related struggles and very few people having it easy. I've never particularly wanted to be a SAHM but at the moment I think people who are privileged enough not to have to work inside the home to support families should be a bit more sensitive about this thing.

Enough with the Facebook crafting posts for one thing.

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Clymene Wed 08-Apr-20 13:30:29

Really? Why didn't she just say 'I don't think so' or 'I don't know' then? She didn't have to tell your child in earshot of you that her children aren't allowed screens. That is definitely passive aggressive criticism of your parenting, whether or not you recognise it and irregardless of any other problems she has.

ChipotleBlessing Wed 08-Apr-20 13:34:45

I’m not having to work at the minute but I still let my kids have screens because I can’t be Mary fucking Poppins 14 hours a day. Good luck to your friend if she can.

audweb Wed 08-Apr-20 13:44:04

I'm having to work from home, and I'm a single parent. It's the easter holidays so I'm not getting her to do any school work - we also don't have a garden. She's basically been in front of screen the past couple of days. There will be plenty of time for her not to be in front of a screen. Right now, it's keeping both of us sane, and her entertained, and me able to work. I have fleeting moments of guilt, but what good would that do? Just go to do what we have to do! It's not forever!

Wearywithteens Wed 08-Apr-20 13:50:03

One day her children will resent the fact that all the other normal kids will have popular culture references from their childhood that they won’t be able to join in on. She is a pretentious arse but she won’t be able to keep a lid on that forever - screens exist and her children will want to be like their peer group at some point.

Bumpsadaisie Wed 08-Apr-20 13:56:38

Hmm. I think your DD has the great advantage of having a normal mum not one too trying to make obtain all her own self esteem from how little her kid goes on a screen.

Bumpsadaisie Wed 08-Apr-20 13:59:59

Hmm. I think your DD has the great advantage of having a normal mum not one too trying to make obtain all her own self esteem from how little her kids go in on a screen.

Kids need parents who respond to their needs.

It's possible to be a very non-responsive parent while at the same time spending hours a day doing improving activities with your children, if the bottom line is that it is all about you.

Stellaris22 Wed 08-Apr-20 14:07:20

I would try not to worry.

I have always hated this smugness from people who don't let their kids have access to computers or tablets (usually people who can afford childcare). Like it or not, a vast amount of adult life (usually working) is spent using a computer. Obviously it shouldn't be 24 hours a day for children, but treating it as an evil is silly. It depends on what they're doing e.g. mine loves scratch junior coding app and her Planet Zoo PC game.

AnneLovesGilbert Wed 08-Apr-20 14:10:28

Did the people slagging your friend off miss the bit where she made the time to bring you food? Food that presumably you otherwise couldn’t have got hold of, to feed yourself and your child, without her?

DonnaDarko Wed 08-Apr-20 14:15:05

I’m not having to work at the minute but I still let my kids have screens because I can’t be Mary fucking Poppins 14 hours a day. Good luck to your friend if she can

This with bells on. The time DS is distracted by TV is equally as precious cos it means I can read a non-peppa pig book and study (I'm studying Cim part time and I am barely managing an hour per day).

WhenDoIGetToSleep Wed 08-Apr-20 15:10:25

I get your guilt - I have a preschooler and a toddler and CBeebies is on far more than I'd like in a day, however both DH & I have to get work done.

I'm not doing as much work as I want (self-employed so no boss to answer to).

I'm not spending as much time interacting with the kids as much as I want.

All in all it's a lose/lose situation smile

At least I know I'm not the only one!

MNnicknameforCVthreads Wed 08-Apr-20 16:48:11

I am quite depressed about this whole issue today. I am self employed and do have work to do but find it hard without the motivation of being the designated office with other people around and just feeling “in the zone”.

I also can’t be arsed to be Mary bloody Poppins nor even do anything useful around the house (see above usage of the word depressed) and then the guilt makes me feel even worse.

Sorry, bit of a useless rant from me, but I am used to having more me-time and not having to do all this parenting and am feeling very piste off with it all right now!

Clymene Wed 08-Apr-20 16:56:47

None of us know what the food was @AnneLovesGilbert. In any event, people can be charitable and sanctimonious dickheads at the same time.

In fact some of the biggest sanctimonious dickheads I know are pillars of the community

Gutterton Wed 08-Apr-20 17:02:38

Screens (as any communication tool) are important if they are interacting with quality content.

Tell your friend that your DD was writing a mini-series with an online writing group, doing some data analysis with a team from MIT on the spread of corona or developing a coding proposal for vaccine modelling...!

Or maybe she is just having some gentle calm fun distracting herself from the anxious times we live in.

You should be proud that your DD is able to manage herself whilst you work - this is resourceful and resilient. I imagine that the DCs who have an intense fully scheduled entertainment programme imposed by helicopter Mum might not be able to be so flexible in the workplace.

I am sure your DD is LOVING having her DM at home working out of the corner of her eye.

You are doing great. Give her another hug to make you feel better.

freddiethegreat Wed 08-Apr-20 17:06:52

I was evangelical a about being screen-free. We didn’t even have a TV until my son was 9 (for the London Olympics). At 17, screens are the only interest at all. Sigh. Que sera sera.

thepeopleversuswork Wed 08-Apr-20 17:09:51

AnneLovesGilbert She's a really generous and loving friend. This is why I'm going out of my way to say I don't think she was being an arse. I just think she's a very devoted mum and she didn't think it through.

But I do think there's this weird bifurcation in society about screens. Some people are ridiculously precious about it. I've got several friends who won't allow a TV in the house, ban phones from the home etc. There's a weird sort of puritanism about it. And in almost all cases its a two-parent family where one parent is more or less full-time devoted to childcare.

I honestly don't think we've got enough data to know long-term if too much screen time is bad for children. I do think people overthink it a lot and its not the end of the world. But it is definitely a luxury to be able to supervise your kids enough to actually prevent them having to look at screens.

I just wish people would be a bit more sensitive and less judgemental about it it.

Like I said before, very much a first world problem but it does grate on me.

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EsmeeMerlin Wed 08-Apr-20 17:15:00

Your friend did nothing wrong. My son’s friends have asked him and me questions about fortnite, I have replied no ds does not have that because I and dh in particular do not like it. It’s hardly having a go to parents that do allow it, they have their way of doing things and we have ours. It’s just stating a fact when she said no her children do not have screen so I think the posters call her a knobhead are a bit much.

Just carry on as you are, we are all struggling one way or the other with kids in lockdown.

Sipperskipper Wed 08-Apr-20 17:29:07

We don't really let DD (3) have screens - I'm pretty much a SAHM, only working very part time. Its not really for any other reason than I cannot be arsed with the massive tantrum that ensues when its time to turn it off!

Lockdown has definitely made me a bit more blase about it though- I don't have to work from home and DD is definitely watching more than she used to. I need some space to breathe!

Clymene Wed 08-Apr-20 17:40:07

But she didn't need to say that @EsmeeMerlin. She could have simply said that they don't play the game.

It's petty point scoring. I don't allow fizzy drinks or phones upstairs and I strictly enforce bedtimes. I know that many of my friends don't do those things. But I don't make a point of telling either my friends or their children what my rules are. My rules are irrelevant to someone else's children.

Also, to make that comment to someone who is desperately trying to juggle looking after their child with holding down a full time job is crashingly insensitive.
Surely we can all agree on that?

thepeopleversuswork Wed 08-Apr-20 17:41:02

EsmeeMerlin She didn't do anything wrong I agree. I just wish people would be a bit more sensitive about it.

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Yesterdayforgotten Wed 08-Apr-20 17:54:32

'I can’t be Mary fucking Poppins 14 hours a day. Good luck to your friend if she can.'

This ^ theres also so many educational programs they learn from; ds will often come out with things and I think oh my I didn't teach him that! I think it is good for children to be in touch with technology as it is the age they are growing up in and a different time the one I grew up in. I would be concerned if they didnt know what an iPad was tbh esp for school etc.

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