I hereby issue a New Year’s challenge –
“Parents everywhere: Put down your phones!”
Nobody’s perfect. We all do things that aren’t going to win us any parenting awards. I believe that (and maybe this is my feeble attempt at making myself feel better) very few parents can say that they never, ever attend to their phones while enjoying their kids’ company. If you can honestly say that you turn off the cell when you are with your kids, then “Bravo!” I sincerely aspire to be more like you. In fact, I’ve been trying to be more like you for a while now.
Why I put down my phone
I knew it was time to disconnect from my phone and reconnect with my kids when I started listening to what my kids were actually saying (and obviously feeling) about my smart phone use. “Mom, can you please leave your phone in the car during my soccer game”; or “if you do bring it out, only use it to take videos of me?” or “Mom, you were texting. Did you actually see my cartwheel?”
And the kicker—the one that would blast a Texas-sized hole through any mother’s heart–“I said, ‘I love you, Mommy’ and you said, ‘That’s great honey’ instead of ‘I love you too.’ But it’s okay Mommy, I know you were busy doing important stuff on your phone.”
Important stuff? IMPORTANT STUFF on my phone??? There exists on this earth no stuff of greater importance than telling, and more importantly, showing my kids that I love them and enjoy their company. Other than pictures and videos of my kids or phone calls and texts about my kids, there really isn’t any “important stuff” happening on my phone!
How I made the change happen (and stick)
In that heart-crushing moment, I made a vow to do two things. The first was to educate myself on the potentially toxic relationship between electronic devices and engaged parenting. The second (and most important in my opinion) was to be a good role model for my kids by simply not having my phone in my hand during family time.
Whenever we are home together, I now leave the phone in another room. I’ve taken to charging it during waking hours (from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. to be exact) instead of overnight so now my phone is completely out of sight during the precious pocket of time before bed. Simple, but effective.
Until the day comes that we are all perfect parents, let’s make a pact to start the new year aiming to simply do better today than we did yesterday and to try again tomorrow what we didn’t quite master today.
Let’s make this year the one where it’s the parents (not the kids) saying, “Hey look – no hands!” Let’s all put our phones down and enjoy our families.
Hands-free parenting…we can do this!
Do you sometimes feel like electronic devices take away from your family time? Let’s talk about it.
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About this blogger:
Paula D’Orazio RN is a public health nurse with the Early Years Health Program at the Halton Region Health Department. Wanna know more about her? Read her blogs! She’ll tell ya! (She kinda likes to talk.)