This seems really silly, but I’m just going to get it out there:
I am addicted to my phone. Checking for texts, emails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…
And I’m ashamed. No really, I am. I feel like this should be a funny post. I WISH this was a funny post. “Hi, I’m Amanda, and I’m a Social Mediaholic! Hahaha!”
But it’s not funny anymore.
Twice in the past two days, one of my children has had to strive to get my attention on behalf of the other.
“Mommy. Mommy. MOMMY.”
“What!?” <exasperated, looking up from my phone>
“Owen is trying to tell you something.”
And there he is, standing there, just waiting to talk. How many times had he said my name before his sister tried to help? I do not even remember hearing his voice.
“Mommy. Mom. MOM.”
“What!?!” <voice raised, clicking my phone off in annoyance>
“Molly is trying to show you something.”
And there she is, beaming, holding up a picture she’d drawn of our family. How long had she been standing there, three feet from me, just waiting for me to look up and see her?
Lord, help me.
We have some precious days in this season of life. We also have some MIND-NUMBING, difficult days. And if I’m brutally honest, a lot of the hard stuff is hard because I’m on my phone too much.
No wonder I feel “spread so thin” and “overwhelmed” — I’m trying to be in two places at once: at home and some other virtual place. No wonder “my brain is fried” half the day — I’m consistently trying to have multiple conversations at once: face-to-face with my kids and via texts with friends.
I snap at my children because they’re interrupting me – BUT THEY’RE INTERRUPTING A CONVERSATION THEY DON’T KNOW I’M HAVING.
Checking my phone has become such a habit, I often don’t even notice I’m doing it. It’s an easy go-to, a reflex.
Tired? Grab my phone & get online.
Overwhelmed? Get on my phone.
Waiting in line at the store? Phone.
Is my brain detecting a single moment of downtime? Get phone!! Get online!! Check out.
Did you know that when my children ask me to watch them do something, it goes like this: “Mommy, watch this! Keep watching, keep watching, keepwatchingkeepwatchingkeepwatching…” I used to laugh about it.
But it’s not really very funny.
Not if you know they’re saying it because there have been enough times I’ve started watching, they’ve taken a minute to get ready to do their awesome trick, and I’ve taken that moment to look down to check my phone.
I’m not saying my children should have my undivided attention 100% of the time. If I’m talking on the phone or with another person actually in the room, it serves my children well to learn to wait patiently and politely. I do NOT believe my world should revolve around my children. (You can read more about that here.)
But that’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about a devastating lesson my children have learned: it is difficult to get – and KEEP – Mommy’s attention.
Is THAT what I want my children to know?
No! I want my children to know I hear them. I see them. They matter. This doesn’t mean they can have my rapt attention every second they want it. But it means when they have my attention, THEY HAVE MY ATTENTION.
Elisabeth Elliot quoted her husband Jim as saying, “Wherever you are, be all there.” How can I be “all there” with my children when something small enough to fit in my pocket can so easily, and so often, steal my attention?
My children are losing a battle they were never intended to fight.
And it has to get under control. And it’s MY responsibility to do it.
Rather than trying to EXPLAIN my struggle and why it’s HARD for me because, you know, I have ISSUES and this is just a symptom of my STRUGGLE to enjoy things in MODERATION – although that’s all true – what’s also true is one simple fact:
I need to STOP CHECKING MY PHONE SO DAMN MUCH.
So that’s where I’ll start. Here’s my plan:
- I will take my phone out of my pocket when I’m at home and set it aside. This simple act will help me curb the mindless phone-pulling-out-and-checking habit. Contrary to popular belief, my phone does NOT have to be on my person 24/7.
- When I am playing a game with my children, having a conversation with my children, or otherwise engaged in an activity WITH my children, I will NOT pick up my phone. [Sitting on the bench at the playground while my kids play is NOT an example of this. That’s a great time to catch up and get a snippet of “me time” while they are engaged with their own activity.] On the other hand, when playing Candy Land with my kids, I should NOT check Facebook while they take their turns. (What kind of a mom would actually do that!?) (I’ve totally done that.) (I told you I need help.)
- If my children interrupt an important text conversation or urgent email response, I will acknowledge their presence and ask them to wait until I finish – as opposed to trying to ignore them and then snapping. The reality is, my children are still learning to not interrupt when I’m talking out loud to a person in real life! With text or email is HOW ARE THEY SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHAT I’M DOING? I can’t just ignore them. That’s not fair. I need to TELL them to wait. And I believe they’ll get better at waiting when they can begin trusting that at some point Mommy actually WILL BE OFF THE PHONE.
Who’s with me? How do YOU enforce healthy boundaries on your phone/internet time? How do you practice being “all there” with the people you love? Share your ideas in the comments!