In defence of mums on the phone

mum phone baby
mum phone baby 

While Will, Kate and George have been touring New Zealand, it's another young family of royals who have been grabbing the column inches in the UK.

Zara Phillips was photographed last weekend at the races with her baby Mia Grace, and photos of the very cute little lady quickly made it into the papers. The royal offspring was photographed having a bottle of milk in the car while her mum - wait for it - held her mobile phone with her other hand, and appeared to be texting or surfing the web while feeding her daughter. At one point, she even spoke on the phone. 

Predictably, the photo got the online commenters in a bit of a tiz, and there were plenty of people out there accusing Queen's grandchild of not paying her baby enough attention. In some of the comments I read, she was described as neglectful and even "a bad mum".

It's fair to say the remarks have really annoyed me. I know news stories always attract a range of opinions, and I know they are a pretty safe area for people to have an anonymous dig in. However, I also know that this new mum bashing has to stop.

Since when did becoming a parent make you fair game for being openly judged? And when did it become okay to criticise the parenting style of strangers?

I'm still breastfeeding eight-month-old Jasmin and it is rare that we sit down for a feed without my iPhone. Once she's settled, I tend to check my emails, spend a bit of time on Twitter and Facebook, and have a scroll through my Pinterest and Instagram feeds. I often draft posts for this column and my blog, and I have been known to check my internet banking, do an online supermarket shop, or write a long catch-up email to a friend. I don't feel bad about any of it. I don't think it makes me neglectful or a bad mother.

I don't think Jasmin minds that while she's busy concentrating on a feed, I'm indulging myself in five minutes of time off.

Once she's done, it's back to the mayhem that is life with a baby and a two-year-old. It's back to the hamster wheel of nappy changes, preparing and giving meals, carrying a baby around, negotiating with a toddler, coming up with ideas for messy play, building forts and standing on Lego. That five minutes on my phone is my time out. And I don't think me or anyone else doing the same should feel bad about it.

Jasmin spends most of her day playing with me; she gets hours upon hours of eye contact, conversation, play and stimulation. A few minutes of mummy looking elsewhere while she feeds is not going to do her any harm. It's certainly not something I'm going to feel guilty about.

- © Fairfax NZ