Parenting Remotely: Micromanaging via Cell Phone

Posted March 11, 2010 by

Despite loving a good snow storm that shuts everything down, I have now joined the group of Northeast dwelling sufferers of SAD — Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is simply too white and gray out there. One snow day was perfect; the added bonus of many, a tad bit too much.

When offered the choice of “fight” or “flight” recently, I didn’t even have to think about it —I resolved to get out of town as soon as I could. Either that or dig a hole like the one that Punxsatawney Phil, the groundhog, lives in and retreats for another several weeks. Both pose problems, however, namely the fact that as moms or caretakers it means we will now need to oversee and supervise (micro-manage) from remote locations. But thanks to cell phones and computers, this is all just a button away.

Since I preferred the idea of escaping to a sunny destination rather than the crawl-into-a-hole option (something I generally feel like doing on a daily basis) I took a deep breath and decided to join my husband on a trip to Miami, Florida. It was simply too good a deal to pass up. He was speaking at a meeting, so the hotel overlooking the beach was paid for. I had enough frequent flier miles and an accommodating schedule so I flew on a free ticket. I even packed instant oatmeal that I could mix with the hot water I could run through the coffee maker so I wouldn’t have to pay for breakfast!

Now all I had to do was arrange the logistical feat of managing my family from a distance. In terms of challenges, I believe it to rank up there with putting together an all white 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. But after I got the corner and edge pieces in place, I fled.

The first phone call came before I even got to the airport. When is Chris coming to drive us to school It’s 7:25 and he isn’t here yet. I reminded my type-A daughter that her older brother was decidedly type-Z in the scheme of things and would arrive not a second before he absolutely needed to, and probably a tad bit late at that.

When I got off the plane there were three additional messages. Unfortunately none of them was from my 82-year-old mother who also remained at home with prominently written instructions that included, written in BOLD RED letters, MOM, Please call me every day at this number. I put my worries to rest, trusted my teen and tween daughters were taking care of my mom, took a big gulp of warm air, and walked into the sunshine. (Lest you be concerned that I am shirking my generational responsibilities to my mother and daughters, rest assured they are being checked in on daily and Life Alert is in place!)

Somehow the pressure of being away — and being on call — must have gotten to me my second night. I woke up at 3:48 unable to get back to sleep. No fear, Benadryl is here, and conked me out till ten. I vaguely remember having three other phone calls in that six-hour window of time to do with such things as the location of cheer-leading shoes, the fact that the cats had each had three cans of wet food and the supply was now gone, and that Grandma was bored and lonely. I suggested she pick up the phone Suffice it to say, the Benadryl worked, and I made a mental note to not repeat that same choice the next night; reading (or writing!) would be a far better choice!

It is now day-three and no new urgent matters have arisen. I remind myself that the grid of where and when everyone is supposed to be is securely taped to the kitchen island and multiple copies are in circulation. So here I am in Miami, but still tethered to home. I am off to the shade, with my to-do list and cell phone in hand to continue my working vacation and be available to parent at a moment’s notice from my remote location.

Hey, we all need a break, but sometimes it is a lot to pull off. Is it worth it — or more trouble than it’s worth?

About

Kathy has four children, aged 9, 12, 24 and 26. Her second son was seduced by marijuana when he was 16. Kathy is now a published author of "Winning the Drug War at Home". She is also a childbirth educator and is writing a pregnancy and childbirth book. Kathy graduated from Brown University with a degree in Health and Society, and also has a BSN in Nursing.

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