I do not know any making mother who, alongside figuring out how to be an artist and a mum, is not also to some degree having to be an administrator and producer. Mostly this involves time in front of a screen - a computer, a tablet or phone. There are many things about being a maker and a mother with which generations of women before us have grappled but this is a new one: we now have screens in our homes, bags, pockets.
When my son was born I wanted to hold him away from screens as long as I could. I did not manage it for long, not surprisingly given their prevalence in our lives. He is now 3 and watching youtube videos on my iPod or having “iPad time” are one of the highlights of his day. It seems crazy to demonise it - here I am right now using a screen to connect with all of you, and yet I can feel how it disconnects me from my son many times a day.
Not long ago I decided to downgrade from a smartphone to a scruffy, simple one so that at least when we are out of the house I am not divided, not checking on emails while we are in the playground but present with the sand, the swings, the slides and my boy. But at other times I have fallen into using screens as a deliberate distraction: when I have to write an email or do a Skype call, I give Riddley a film to watch. It works in that he is absorbed and I get the job done. Yet already the main arguments we have are about screen time - he wants “just one more film” several times over and I feel uncomfortable saying no, uncomfortable giving in, partly because I am uncomfortable about my own relationship to the screen, to how many times I check on my emails, check for a text, and confused about the many pros and cons to this extraordinary technology. Screens are part of our world now, a taken-for-granted part of our children’s world - I would love to know how can we use them well, to support connection, presence and creativity in our mothering and our making, in ourselves and in our children? How are you already doing this? What are your challenges? What’s working well?