I’ve come to rely on my phone quite a bit since having kids. I check the weather before we head outdoors, track things like eating changes and sleeping schedules, use it as white noise when the baby can’t sleep, and text with friends when I’m trapped under that sleeping baby and there’s little else to do. Technology certainly makes my life a touch easier, and I’ll happily embrace anything that removes one more stress.
But more recently, I’ve noticed that I’ve been spending more and more time on my phone. That “quick second” to check the weather leads to, well, may as well check my email, too. Without warning, seconds have spiraled into minutes, and an hour later I haven’t accomplished much more than some swiping and typing.
There’s nothing wrong with zoning out for a minute. My kids, at their worst, can be exhausting or even frustrating. It feels as though my attention is pulled into so many directions at once throughout the course of one day. It can be nice to take a breath while the kids are safe and otherwise occupied.
But then on the nights following those same exhausting, frustrating days I find myself scrolling through that phone, looking at photos of their happy faces, missing them as they sleep. I find that I regret those moments of the day when, whether by necessity or choice, my attention was otherwise occupied. When hours of my time are sapped away in front of a screen, I close out my day feeling as though I haven’t accomplished anything, I haven’t spent time enjoying my kids, and I don’t even feel rested or refreshed.
I try to remember that throughout the day. I still take mental breaks occasionally, resting from the non-stop bombardment of requests and questions and pulls on my attention. But I do so with an awareness of just how little it seems I accomplish on that phone in comparison to how much I miss.
5 Tips to Break the Phone Habit
• No phones at mealtime: Before you sit down to eat, place all cell phones away from the table (and keep them on silent!) to avoid any distractions.
• Set aside time to be unplugged: Whether it’s evening hours or only 15 minutes, schedule time each day to step away from phones, computers, tablets and televisions.
• Get outside: Enjoy a moment outdoors without looking at a phone screen. Take the kids on a nature walk, go for a bike ride – focus on an activity that will help you step away from the phone for a bit.
• Skip the cell before bed: Adopt a house rule to silence or turn off phones at least an hour before bedtime. You’ll fall asleep easier – and your body & mind will thank you!
• Turn off the alerts: Not every alert, for every hour of the day. But when you’re wanting some time away from the phone, removing alerts can help avoid phone temptation as you focus on the moment.
Liz Moorhead is an English teacher-turned-writer and illustrator. She paints stationery, writes for a top wedding site, and blogs at Happy Sighs between walks to the park with her two boys.