I was the mum on her phone when her tot fell off his chair

Mum and daughter on lap at outdoor cafe

I’m not a judgey mum. I always veer on the side of understanding and compassion when I see another mother having a hard time – like the mum who is melting down with her toddler in Coles. 

We have all been there. She’s not a bad mum. She’s just having a bad mum moment/day.

I really hope then that the other parents at the pub bistro last night were a bit like me.

You see, I was the mum who was looking at her phone when her three-year-old broke the ambience of the alfresco eating area with his wails. I was the mum who wasn’t paying attention when she should have been, and as a result, her little one hurt himself – and he made damn sure he told everyone about it! 

And today, I am also the mum with guilt, wondering if I should call social services on myself. I know, an overreaction but we mums love to beat ourselves up.

This is what happened.

Listen to Psychologist and life coach Belinda Williams, and psychologist Tawna Tourle from The Bumpy Road talk about mum guilt:

We went out for dinner

To cap off a few blissful days away on holiday, we treated our boys to dinner out. We chose somewhere kid-friendly – an outdoor pub bistro with a decent kid’s menu. My husband went inside to order, leaving me and our two little loves to find a table under the fairy lights and heaters.

The place was packed with other holiday goers and I felt happy just being there. So happy that I felt compelled to share my joy on Facebook. 

As my boys clambered up onto their chairs and started playing with the salt and pepper shakers, I pulled out my phone. Glancing over to them and smiling, I scrolled through the pics, getting lost in our captured moments of holiday bliss, and that’s when it happened.

Woman looking at phone in cafe


Read more about mum guilt:


His cries broke the chatter

The first thing I heard was his chair hitting the ground and then his piercing cry, in a way that only a shocked three-year-old can. I raced to him, ditching my phone on the table and scooped him up. As I did, I saw all the faces at the other tables looking our way. There was silence, when only a moment earlier I couldn’t hear my eldest son properly over the pub chatter when he asked if he was getting garlic bread with his pizza. 

My husband reappeared and as I carried my wailing little guy out of the bistro towards the waterside pathway, I heard the chatter start back up. We had disturbed the peace for only a moment.

“What would you think?”

When my little Sam had calmed down, we returned to our table and to my utter surprise and disbelief, my husband said something to me that he never does:

“What would you think if you saw a mother on her phone when her kid fell off his chair?”

He wasn’t being a jerk, he wanted me to see the situation as he did.

He said that as he was walking back from the bar with our drinks, he saw me from a distance, immersed in my phone, our two boys getting restless at the table.

“Sam was even holding a knife and fork when he fell,” he added.

He was right. I had a bad parenting moment. But I also know he has too, and will again in the future. As does he. 

“I don’t want you to feel judged. I think you are a beautiful, amazing mum. But please don’t be on on your phone when you know you shouldn’t. You could of just waited for me to get back.” 

So yes, I am the mum who was on her phone when her kid fell off his chair and hurt himself. But I won’t be again. I’ve been burnt.

Parenting is all about living and learning, but it is also about forgiving – ourselves a lot of the time.

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