Confession: I am one of those helicopter parents who likes to know what my little darlings are up to at all times. If they are not in my immediate eyeline, it calms my farm to see they are a) breathing, b) not being bullied and c) not being kidnapped.
This is only when they’re little, mind you. Parents who put monitoring software on the phones and computers of their university-age kids are next level – you have to cut the apron strings at SOME point. But when your little ones are small? A little stalking to check on their wellbeing is essential (please ignore Mr Hubs and his eye-rolling).
Chances are, you already do a bit of sneaky checking on your children as it is, and if you think you don’t, you might change your mind reading through my stalkery parent check list.
1. Stalking your kid in utero
Once we get those two blue lines on a pregnancy test, it’s game on. Your bubba is chilling in the womb and we’re hiring at-home fetal dopplers that work with our smartphones. We’re getting ultrasounds to determine if our little one will be called Jenny or Jimmy. This is not our fault as parents. It’s the fault of technology (who can resist?).
2. Stalking your kid while they sleep
Anyone who’s bought a $100 monitor that enables you to keep one eye on your kid in the crib and one eye on Masterchef will know what I’m talking about. Forget the sound-only models; you want video all the way, especially if you’ve been #blessed with a naughty little escape artist. In addition, I highly recommend getting one that operates like a two-way walkie talkie. There really is no better way to freak out a naughty kid using their bed as a trampoline at 10pm at night than your voice booming through the monitor telling them “IT’S SLEEPY TIME RIGHT NOW OR THERE WILL BE CONSEQUENCES”.
3. Stalking your kid with the carer
A controversial one, sure – as most parents will say when you get a new carer you simply check references, do a police check, ensure that their WWCC is valid and then let it go and trust that all will be fine. No, no, no. Let’s not forget this is a stranger you’re leaving your precious child with. And I sure as heck don’t want to rock up to the playground and spot my new carer glued to her Instagram feed while Little Miss Hubs dangles screaming from the top of the monkey bars, about to fall on her head. I will say the majority of carers and babysitters I’ve had for my kids have been amazing, but I still do at least one sneaky tree check outside the playground the first time they are with my kid. So sue me.
4. Stalking your kid when they’re at vacation care
I already feel guilty enough having to work during school holidays, and it makes me feel slightly better if I know that my munchkins are having a good time at the school’s vacation care program. So I have no qualms dropping them off and promptly staking a spot next to a crack in the poorly maintained school fence, so I can watch for a sec and make sure my kids are playing nice / enjoying themselves / aren’t in the foetal position in a corner of the sandpit rocking back and forth. Of course, this kind of stalking takes courage. You will get funny looks from passersby so just gaily yell, “Just checking on my kids, first day at vacation care you know – ha ha ha” to stop them thinking they better phone the cops.
5. Stalking your kid at school.
Sneaking around lockers and peering through the glass panel in your kid’s classroom door isn’t a good look, so I instead opt for Plan B: befriend my child’s teacher, get his or her email and touch base on occasion asking for intel about your kid’s day, friendship groups etc.
6. Stalking your kid on social media.
I think kids and social media is a very, very bad idea, so when my children reach their teen years and start wearing me down for a Facebook or Instagram account, here is my grand plan: it will be on MY phone. Full transparency is the only way. I know this polarises parents, but I’d rather know if my 13-year-old is being bullied by other kids, hassled by possible child molesters or thinking it’s AOK to put a picture of herself on Instagram wearing lacy knickers.
Are you a stalkery parent, or does all of the above completely horrify you?