My 7 year old: “Mom….”(talks for 5 minutes about something related to school)
Me: Uh huh yeah.
My 7 year old: “Mom!! You aren’t even listening! You are just like Dad – always on your phone!
Ouch. That one hurt. As a mom, I’m constantly on my phone. Sometimes its for a good reason, checking the weather before going to the park, responding to a text message from a family member or looking up the school PTA reminders.
Other times, I am just straight out wasting time. Checking Instagram for the 100th time, going on Pinterest looking for things to do with my kids (as I ignore them), looking up people on Facebook. Complete time wasters! Here I am enforcing screen time rules with my kids and telling them to put down their electronics as I’m staring blankly at my own. I realized I need to unlpug, as a mom and as a human!
I went on a rant one day (bad mom moment- I know) while my kids were within earshot about their dad constantly being on the phone and ignoring them. He works a lot so I will often get so annoyed when he only has a few minutes with them and chooses to go on his phone to do nonsense things.
And here I am… doing the same. exact. thing. What a hypocrite. I felt awful. Thinking about how excited my daughter was to tell me something about her day that was so important to her and I just fluffed it. All I could think about was the disappointed look on her face. I’ve seen that look before- and it made me think of different times I just completely chose my phone over my kids. The times at the dinner table I told them NO phones, as I had mine in my hand. The times when I should be playing a game and I’m scrolling through meaningless non-sense.
Technology is so useful in so many ways, but it really does cause a disconnect when it comes to our kids. It’s not easy to completely unplug, especially if you work (from home or out of the home). But to me it’s worth it.
So I decided to have some screen free time, both for myself and more importantly – my kids.
With my oldest daughter in college, I really see daily how fast kids do grow up. There are only so many days you get to spend with your little ones who grow up to be big ones pretty damn quick. Having a mom who actually cares and is listening to what you have to say is so important. I always want my kids to feel like they can talk to me – and I want to listen to them (most of the time anyway).
And I’m not one to put more guilt on a mama- especially when she just wants to get her fill of celebrity gossip, checking out a new pair of shoes, or getting a side hustle going. Moms need time to unwind and recharge too. We do so much all day, we shouldn’t feel guilty about doing a few things for ourselves, even if it is scrolling Pinterest or playing Candy Crush.
What is the Solution?
What I need is some balance (Although I kind of hate that word). I decided to implement some screen free times for myself. I took a snapshot of my day and decided to limit my self to certain times that I can use my phone (guilt free) and spend as much time as possible hanging out with my kids. It really made me see that I spend too much time on my phone, especially when I complain I have no time to do anything!
I decided to use my phone during the times I was waiting. Waiting for the kids to get out of school and waiting for them to fall asleep. For me that means absolutely no screen time from the minute they walk in the door to the time they go to bed. I work overnight and every weekend so the time after school is golden. It’s really the only time I have to sit and hang out, do homework (ugh), play games and relax with them. And I’m not wasting one minute. I will never look back and regret not using my phone. But I will always regret not spending the time I have with my kids.
Join me today! No guilt, no expectations. Life is different for everyone. Everyone has different work and life schedules. There is no one size fits all remedy.
Here are some tips to help you (that I’m following too) to help you in your screen free motherhood journey:
- Put it away. Silly as it sounds, that whole out of sight out of mind thing works. If it is not there, you won’t be as tempted to pick it up. (I always tell my daughter who is away at college to call if there is an emergency that way I’m not tempted to look at texts).
- Use your phone to your advantage. Set up your Do Not Disturb feature. I use it when I’m sleeping after a long night shift. Block out numbers from anyone who isn’t important enough to break your time with your kids (Family emergencies and school numbers excluded). There are many apps that help you limit time on certain apps too that you can use to your advantage. I know Samsung has the Thrive app that limits time on any apps you want. Shut off notifications as well.
- Tell your kids what you are doing. Let them know you love them and want to spend time with them! Tell them you are not going to use your phone after school or on weekends. Believe me, they will keep you accountable!
- Live your life without posting everything to social media. We all know those moms, every second is documented on social media. Just enjoy it. Take pictures of your kids for YOU, not for the whole world to see. Snap a few and get on with your time. Don’t post about it. Enjoy the moment and you will become less dependent on doing it. I stopped doing this a long time ago and it is liberating. You don’t feel pressured to respond to comments or get a perfect picture- its just you and your family enjoying the moment.
- Stick to your schedule. If you decided not to use your phone after school or on Saturdays etc. Keep track of it. Make a mark on your calendar of the days that you stuck to your goal. Reward yourself! If you fall off the wagon , get back on. Make it a habit and you stick to it easily.