Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pre-Internet Parenting

As some of you know, my oldest two are not even kids anymore; born in the early-to-mid-90's. (I was a child-bride.) I don't quite know when the Internet first started, but I certainly wasn't using it the and blogging was but a twinkle in our collective eye.

What the heck did we do? Today, for example, we have a MEGA snow storm in Chicago. (It's actually no worse than previous years and certainly nothing like the fiasco of 2 years ago, but everything has to be MEGA these days hasn't it?) In past years, there would have been a "phone tree", whereby the room parent would have phoned either everyone in the class or a few, who would then phone a few others, until everyone got the message that after-school activities were canceled so that we could all get home safely. Unfortunately with that system, there was always the parent who failed to check voicemail and then blamed everyone else for the fact that his/her child was the one left sitting with the teacher till 5pm. If you were the one who had left the voicemail, boy- did s/he let you have it. You know the type of parent I mean.

Now weather news is e-mailed, and we've all been chatting on Facebook, offering to take each others' kids home, etc. Parenting has never been so easy. (Ok, scratch that. Let's not get carried away.)

We have a school conference (meeting with the teacher) tomorrow, for which we signed up on Google something or other. None of that hanging around outside the classroom to bag a convenient time (ie. something a little later than 7.30am) on the teacher's schedule, which was posted on the wall.  A quick e-mail to the Ball & Chain to ask when he was in town and Bam! - conference scheduled at an acceptable 8.30am. We pay our lunchroom fees online, book after-school activities on the school web site, read the weekly menu to see when there is a hot meal that they will actually eat, - the list goes on.

When the kids are unwell, our first stop (is it not?) is the computer, either to ask bloggy friends about it, or to look up the symptoms and scare ourselves silly. I remember when I was little, my mum used to phone her nurse friend or my grandma (which probably had more to do with needing to hear her mum than anything else); our doctor wasn't on call and there was no NHS help-line either.

And let's not even think about parenting without cell phones. Shudder!


  1. But are we more relaxed, more confident, have more spare time...?

  2. On individual issues like snow cancellations, I would say it was far less stressful to know exactly what was going on this afternoon.
    I don't think the Internet makes us any more stressed if we use it wisely. The whole thing about going unplugged for a weekend etc. is only useful to people who can't stay away from their phones, etc anyway.
    I can also say that being able to do my food shopping online and have it delivered makes me a lot less stressed. That was one chore that I definitely welcomed doing online.

  3. I remember those days, as my Man-Child is an early 90's baby. Somehow, I feel like I've been cheated. I sure could have used the Internet back in those days; particularly the lonely, infant days.

  4. Scared myself stupid looking up child birth online much better to get the gory details from your mates when it was too late for me to do anything about it!!

  5. Your school is more advanced that the French ones my sons go to. They both have websites but they are a bit useless really. Certainly not much by way of interaction.

    All you can do, in fact, is look up their marks (if posted...) and sometimes see what homework they've got. I usually can't stand the stress of it... :)

  6. I LOVE being able to do food shopping online, and my daughter's school has recently, timidly begun to do an email notifcation system for snow days which more or less works. I think the internet is fantatsic... until you lose it. That's when everything goes a bit pear shaped. I find those 'unplugged' times when I dont do any social media, dont rely on the internet for anything are not only a breath of fresh air (as much as I love the internet) but also good discipline remindng me that life is Still Ok when not plugged in. It keeps the panic attacks at bay when we experience the unexpected shut downs!

  7. Completely different from when I was a young mum. Just like being on another planet!
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

  8. I think the pace of life was a lot slower back then. I often think about travelling. Very few people had email addresses or mobile phones when I went backpacking. You had to leave messages for people you were meeting at the poste restante in cities. My parents and friends sent me letters not emails. I can't even imagine how things will have changed again when my children are grown up.

  9. @21st - Having said that, when I first went to Greece, decades ago, we had a vague plan to meet other friends in Omonia Square (sp?) with a date and an afternoon time. Had something happened, we would have no way of knowing. On that same holiday, I was supposed to meet some friends in a hotel bar in Athens before heading off to the airport together. For whatever reason they didn't make it, but I waited over 4 hours in that bar, and ended up almost being kidnapped. A cell phone would have almost been a life-saver.

  10. Oh, what would one do with no Internet these days! Last week we didn't have an Internet for only 2 hours and I felt completely hopeless.
    So.. I had no choice and started baking cupcakes:-) at least my boy was happy about not having Internet. I gathered a list of really cool cupcakes at http://www.elladvice.com/kids-friendly-cupcakes/ so next time you find yourself without Internet you might consider trying one of those..

  11. Hi there, I just came across your blog and thought maybe some your readers will be interested in getting information about obtaining US citizenship for their children through their grandparent. I recently went through this process for my boys and it was extremely difficult to find information on that on the Internet (I guess Google is not yet perfect). For the benefit of all mothers with the same issue I created this webpage with all the required info: USExpat.net. Good luck!


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