So, as I was waiting for my boys to finish their pre-nap bottles this afternoon, I was checking out Facebook on my phone (which is pretty customary for me at that time of day). Both kids were happy, their diapers had been freshly changed, we were watching tv (which is also typical), and, for a few blissful moments, no one really needed anything from me.
So, I took advantage of my few moments of peace and caught up with the world — email, Facebook, Words with Friends and such. And today, I found this. Which says, basically, that I need to cut it out.
My frist thought was, “I’m not that bad”. And I’m not. I’m careful about when I get involved with my phone, I make sure I don’t stay on too long, I never answer actual calls that come in when I’m with my kids (because I just can’t divide my attention well enough). I don’t get irritated with them when they “interrupt” my internet time or ever think that I’m fooling them into thinking that I’m paying attention if I’m not.
But the thing is, it’s just not possible to be careful enough. Or, more to the point, it’s not about being careful. My attention IS divided when I’m reading Facebook, checking my email, or playing a game. There’s no way to avoid it. My kids see that. In those moments, they aren’t my only priority.
The thing is, there are plenty of perfectly reasonable moments through the day when they’re not the only priority I have. I make lunch. I clean the house. I occasionally go to the bathroom (sometimes even alone). I run errands. I do laundry. Most of those things have to happen — I try to keep the duration of each distracting, attention-dividing activity short, but they still have to happen.
Facebook doesn’t. My email doesn’t. My kids outrank those things by about 1,000,000%. So, why on earth should I allow my time to be taken by something less important?
So, today, I didn’t. After I read that article, I shut my phone off (something I have literally only done about half a dozen times) and I spent the rest of the afternoon phone-free. Yikes. It freaked me out. But I had an AWESOME afternoon. I had no idea how much I’d been missing. I played “restaurant” with Benjamin. (And Liam — he makes a bad waiter, though, because he doesn’t come back with the “food”, and he makes a bad customer because he won’t tell us what he wants. He did ok as the chef. But mostly, he wanted to play trains.) We cuddled together after their naps. We colored and drew and ran around and were silly. And we might have done any number of those things on a day that my phone was on, but it was a whole different intensity. I “saw” more of my kids today than I have so far this week. That’s terrible, and sad, but I can change it.
I have time I can devote to internet activities. My blogging is important to me. Keeping in touch with my friends and family is vital to my mental well-being. I can still do those things, and I will. I can do all of those things during my 15 minute “coffee break” I take every morning (when, after the house is clean, I take 15 minutes, get Liam settled into a safe activity where I can watch him, and sit down and to nothing for 15 minutes — it’s great), during nap time, while Dan is bathing the kids (Dan does bath time every other night) and after they’re asleep. If I prioritize, I can do it. No problem.
I will be less available online than I have been. Most of you probably won’t even notice the difference (keep in mind that because of the time difference, a lot of my daytime internet time was while you’re all sleeping, which only makes my attention to the internet less reasonable) and if you do, you’ll understand.
Today I was astounded at how much my phone has been distracting me, and I didn’t even realize it. Try it. When you’re with your kids, turn your phone off. Not just to silent (I always have mine silent) and not just out of reach. Turn it OFF. See what happens.