Your phone, and all your devices are barriers between you and your kids. We sometimes feel like the last family on earth who does not allow our kids to use tablets or other devices - in the restaurant, on the plane, at home. Our kids get to watch TV on the weekends for a few hours a day. Even then, I feel I’m robbing our kids of valuable time for them to develop their minds.
But what about us, the parents? Every time we answer a call, check a text message or whatever it is - we are invited by these enchanting devices to lose ourselves and moments with our children. The phones and screens are irresistable. They are built to undermine us, and take us away.
I’m not sure this idea needs more reinforcing, but look at it from this perspective. If you are a working parent you probably get one or two hours max with your kids on the weekdays. Those moments are your currency. Those are the moments where you either put memories in the bank, or spend your moments on distractions letting your time slip away.
So what do we do about it? Less is more. Here are some ideas for the parents’ devices:
Have a basket at the front door and deposit all parent phones there as you walk in the door. When you arrive at home, you begin the second act. Unfortunately it is not good enough to be your best at work. You need to be your best at home too. Putting down your phone as you walk in the door is a physical action that will help you commit to having a great second act.
Demand eye contact from yourself and your children. Get into the habit of speaking to each other and looking each other in the eyes. I read that even babies respond negatively to distracted parents on cell phones, because they don’t learn to use eye contact from birth. Eye contact helps us connect with each other.
Get an alarm clock. Really the only thing you need your phone for in the bedroom is to wake up. Get an alarm clock and get the screen out of your personal space.
Schedule 20 minutes of me-time to use the phone and check up on everything right after the kids go to bed. It is the magic hour, get your stuff done or watch a show and then move on.
Set your screen to use red tones after dark. Most new software will have this option. Very important. The red tones will help you not wake up more, because blue light wakes you up.
How you use your phone also shows your children how to use and control technology. Remember, there is a future teenager inside that little boy or girl. We need to start now and demand/model healthy habits with technology or the problems of the parents will easily be passed onto the kids.