“Don’t bring your camera mummy.” I heard the enthusiastic plea as I was busily packing a bag for our day out. “Just have fun with me!”
I’ve not spent much 1-1 time with GinGin since Roo was born last year. In fact, I can count on one hand how many times it’s been just her and me together in the last year.
Not that I want to palm Roo off just to have an easier day with one child who can do pretty much everything for herself now.
But GinGin was an only child for five years. She grew accustomed to having our undivided attention. She was used to the positive affirmations that poured regularly from our mouths, without her needing to say “look at me” repeatedly.
Don’t get me wrong, GinGin loves her little sister more than anything in the world. But it’s hard for a five-year old to suddenly have to share her mummy and daddy.
It can’t be easy watching your mummy and daddy gush praise over a baby walking those first few wobbly steps, when you walk everywhere and have done for years and nobody says a bloody word let alone claps when you stumble towards the sofa!
And I really can’t blame her for wanting my complete and utter attention when it’s just the two of us out together.
The Unintentional Barrier
More than this, though, she made me think about the unintentional barrier that my camera can become between me and my children.
Of course I want us to do lots and lots of fun things together. I want my girls to have countless new experiences and never-ending opportunities to explore themselves and the world around them
But – like any other 21st century mama – I want to document it. ALL. OF. IT. I’ve somehow bought into the idea that memories can’t live without a picture to prove it happened.
It’s both a blessing and a curse that I’m actually also a photographer. No, really, I am! Just check out my “other” website 😉
I’m more than capable of taking the most stunning pictures of my girls. And both girls do quite like having their photo taken. Within reason!
And there’s the sticking point. I want every picture to be perfect. So those effortless candids, those authentic moments are not always that straightforward. It’s not a case of click and we move on, enjoying the time we have together. Having fun.
Nope. Not for photographer-mum. It’s finding the right angle. The best light. The “don’t look at me, look at each other” instructions. Or worse, the “not that smile, yes that smile!”
So whilst GinGin is growing up with an interest in photography – she has two cameras and often comments on the quality of the light – she already sees it as work. Or at least not fun.
Hmmm not what I had in mind…
The Perfect Day
So getting back to our day out: GinGin and me came to a compromise that I could take my phone and occasionally open up the camera feature.
I wasn’t going completely cold turkey.
And, actually, it’s surprisingly liberating not worrying about snapping away all day long, trying to record every last second of your baby’s childhood adventures.
We laughed. A lot. We looked for bugs. We made catapults. We played a person-sized game of KerPlunk. We ate lunch on an aphid-invested park bench. We had a nature-spotting competition. We went on a proper adventure.
There was no camera barrier. No stopping every couple of minutes because something had caught my eye and I needed to photograph it.
We came away with a handful of iPhone pics. They’re not technically perfect. But they tell the story of our perfect day beautifully.
My Challenge To You (and me…)
This leads me on to my challenge for you to try. Next time you’re planning a day out with your little ones don’t take a camera. Not one. Not even your phone.
See if you can spend the day just living in the moment. Not worrying about what image you’re going to post on Instagram later. Not stressing that you haven’t added to your stories in the last 12 hours.
Just go out with a packed lunch and your little ones. Be fun-mum. I’d love to hear how you get on in the comments below. xx
The Mum Conundrum