At first I figured this week didn't really apply to me because we do not watch much TV and never when Gabriel is awake, but this week was much bigger than just TV. I have had my data phone for a little over a year and half (six months of that we were in Japan so it wasn't used) and I honestly didn't think it would be as addicting as it really is. Yes smart phones do provide a new level of convenience but that convenience becomes irrelevant with how much time in the present is wasted by zoning out on our phones.
When we got our phones I was very clear with Chris that I didn't want to become those parents who spent time on their phone while waiting for school to start rather than engaging with their child. I also didn't want to be that friend who seemed more interested in keeping up with texts, e-mails and social media rather than the person/people right in front of him/her- This isn't to say that checking your phone briefly here and there is bad but be honest and real with yourself as to how much those "brief" moments are adding up to. Just the other day while waiting at the pharmacy in Costco there was a mother and her three boys in line ahead of us. The mother and the oldest child were glued to their phones and during the 10 minutes we stood there I am almost certain I did not hear any one of them converse with one another. It broke my heart.
I am by no means not guilty of this myself. My challenge this week was to not suck myself into my phone while riding in the car or at night before bed- these are perfect times built into my day where I can easily be intentional with communicating and engage with my family and husband yet I've been choosing media instead. I'm also guilty of playing on my phone when in the staff room during lunch when I'm guest teaching- HELLO, this is my prime adult conversation time, what the heck am I doing?!
Here are times where I believe and am striving to be off my phone and unplugged:
- In the presence of my child: This doesn't mean I cut everything the instant Gabriel awakes but it does mean I should not be scrolling Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. I see no harm in taking a phone call or answering a text but the other mindless zoning on my phone needs to wait until nap time or bedtime.
- While riding in the car: Like I said earlier, this is great time for me to talk with Chris and have Gabriel listen to conversation. And this should go without saying but of course NEVER while driving, just don't do it.
- At dinner: Growing up while at my mom's TV was off and no phone calls were taking during dinner time. It was great- we all sat around the table and it was super meaningful to me. I didn't necessarily like being "forced" to sit up straight and finish my plate but I did love the intentionality of engagement and talking about our days. No phones at the dinner table.
- Out to coffee or hanging out with a friend: When there is a real, physical person right in front of you, that is where your attention should be. As mentioned above, that doesn't mean I can't check my phone once and awhile- just means I shouldn't spend more time with social media than my amiga!
- In Church: Trust me, I am just as great of a multitasked as the next lady claiming to be but the truth is there is no way you can possibly be attentive to the message being shared when you're reading FB updates. Let's be real.
- When it's bedtime: Most nights when I tell Chris I can't sleep I tell him while my face in being light by the screen of my phone as I swipe through websites and different forms of social media. I cannot tell you how many times he has told me that he's read that looking at a backlit screen before bed interferes with your body's ability to know it's tired… The phone stays downstairs. Keeping the phone downstairs also inhibits me from checking it in the middle of the night when I stir, causing me to have an even more disrupted sleep pattern.
Okay so when do I feel like it is a good time to plug in? Good question. Well if I'm intentional with engaging with Chris when he gets home from work, I spend some time blogging and on social media after Gabriel goes to bed. Nap time (as mentioned above) is another time I utilize, and in the morning before Gabriel wakes up. These are not times where I am ALWAYS plugged in- I do have house duties, books I'm reading, quite time, and hobbies but they are optional times for it. Of course I don't always follow these 'guidelines' but they are what I strive for. I want my kid(s) to know me and without a doubt feel that I was present in their life. I want our time together to be more about conversations, adventures and engagement with each other and less about being glued to a screen (of any form).
What's your take on being 'plugged in' verses unplugged?