As much as I love being a parent, there are times when being home with kids is isolating, boring, and relentless. With its many options to entertain, the smartphone offers an immediate escape. I can text friends, check e-mail, post on Facebook, and take photos while my kids play.
Plus, since I work from home, it’s often handy to be able to conduct business from the playground or while making my kids a snack. But it’s also easy to become overly reliant on my smartphone. I clutch it tightly wherever I go — whether it’s to a work meeting or to my daughters’ school performance.
Over at Motherlode, KJ Dell’Antonia writes about how her smartphone allows her to do work while being home with her kids. But like Dell’Antonia, I realize that I rely on my smartphone at times when I could just be hanging out with my kids.
If we have to wait in line behind even one person at the bookstore, my hand creeps to my phone. A lull in the family conversation at the burrito joint? Phone. Long walk through the parking lot? You guessed it. That stuff I do not need to do.
I can relate. Not only does my smartphone distract me from being fully present around my kids, but my reliance on it also sends my kids the message that they should always be entertained. I’ve been trying to teach them that down time is important and yet my behavior is showing them just the opposite. Am I so uncomfortable with a moment of silence or inactivity that I need to seek stimulation from my phone?
Maybe I need to set aside time when I put my smartphone down. That’s what blogger Jessica McDaniel has decided to do this summer. Like me and Dell’Antonia, McDaniel works from home and looks to her smartphone for distraction and entertainment. Her kids have started to ask her to put down the phone and she’s gotten the message. This summer, she has decided to delete the Facebook and Twitter apps and turn off e-mail on her phone. McDaniel writes:
Hoping my clients will understand that I’ll take a bit longer to read and reply to emails over the summer. Hoping Facebook can survive without me trolling the feed three or four times a day. And hoping my kids can swing higher when I push with both hands.
I’m not sure I’m ready to delete apps or turn off my e-mail on my phone, but I do plan to make a concerted effort to set aside time to be with my kids without turning to my phone. Of course, the timing may not work out as I planned. Now that my 10-year-old daughter is getting an iPod Touch, she’ll be the one ignoring me so she can play with her gadget.
Photo: Shutterstock.com/Modern Mobile Phone
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