The other day, my daughter and her little neighborhood friend were playing “Moms and Dads.” Growing up, I called this “house” and while playing, I pretended to be a mom — my mom. I cooked, cleaned, lectured the kids about manners, and gave kisses and hugs. My daughter’s game was similar, with one addition — she played on a pretend phone. Because her mom uses her phone. A lot. Maybe too much. It’s something I am aware of, and something I’m working on. Australian dad Brad Kearns of the blog DaDMuM, is working on it, too.
In a viral post shared last week, the popular blogger and social media personality explains why he’s been a bit absent lately. He confesses that about a month ago, he was home alone with his boys and playing on Facebook (as parents do). His 3-year-old son Knox was standing directly in front of him, trying everything he could think of to get Brad’s attention.
“He was trying to show me one of his cars,” Brad explains. “I didn’t even look up from my phone when I replied, ‘Wow mate that’s a cool one.’ He continued to stand in front of me. He started saying ‘Hi.’ I said ‘Hi’ back at him a few times but he didn’t stop. He got another toy and kept trying to get my attention.”
Brad finally convinced him to go play with his younger brother Finn, but Knox eventually came back and tried again to connect with Dad.
That’s when Brad realized what was really happening.
“I hadn’t seen him in two days due to my work hours,” shares. “He was bored and he missed me and he just wanted my attention. Yet there I was ‘too busy’ to even look up. And I dismissed him.”
He says he “felt like sh*t” and that he was being the type of dad he “never wanted to be.”
So he put the phone down. And when he went into the other room and asked his son to play, Brad describes that “his entire face lit up.”
“He said ‘sure’ and scooched over to make room for me next to him,” he continues. “We played all day and I left my phone on the bench.”
Isn’t the truth? How happy do your kids get when you make time for them? Like real, quality time? Mine eat it up.
“That was a month ago now,” Brad continues. “I gave myself a much needed time-out. And it’s been the best month with my boys. I can’t post every day. Sometimes I will miss a week. I don’t mind. Kids don’t give a sh*t about the world. All they care about is you being right there with them. We need to put the phones down when we’re with them.”
Man, did this hit home with me. I too run a big Facebook page, and write daily. I love doing it, and it brings me fulfillment that wiping butts and cooking mac and cheese does not. But I am a mother first. I have one more year with my 4-year-old before he is in school full-time like his siblings. Then, I’ll have hours and hours to write and tend to my social media. So I’ve committed to leaving my phone in another room while we do puzzles and practice writing his name. I leave my phone at home when I walk to pick the big kids up from school, so that our walk home is just us, talking about their day. And at night, when we read and snuggle, it’s special, uninterrupted time with Mom.
Our kids didn’t ask to be raised in this social media obsessed, technology driven world. They deserve the best of us. So thanks for the reminder, Brad. We only get a few years with them before they get glued to their own phones and want nothing to do with us, so I’m going to make the most of this precious time while I still can.