Give the Smart Phone Mom a Break
I have seen the post about “How to miss a childhood” go around Facebook and Pinterest. I did feel a little guilty and probably need to make a few changes.
- My phone does sometimes feel like a breathing apparatus.
- My phone is by my side at all times!
- I do panic if I thought I have left my phone at home.
- I sometimes just stare and my phone and think, “What will you tell me to do next?”
But, then I started thinking .. my phone is not just a toy that is used to waste time!
- It is the family calendar!
- It is a hub for social planning!
- It is financial planner!
- It can help with so many things.
You just need to figure out how to use it in a productive and healthy way. In other words ..
Oh how things have changed!
Today's mothering style cannot be compared to how our mother's and grandmother's have raised us. They all did a great job and we love them for it! However, the environment today is completely different than when you or I grew up. Please indulge me as I go on a short rant of the difficulties that come with being a mother in today's environment ..
Moms are expected to look like super models.
Why did having kids have to get so popular in Hollywood? Why did Beyoncé have to have a baby the same time as me? Yes she did perform at the Super Bowl in 2012 only a few months after having a baby in a little body suit and looked amazing! I felt bad, but then realized, that is her 'Job' to look good. I had didn't have a full-time personal trainer and nutritionist. I do believe in being healthy and exercising to feel good. However, I don't think that we need to compare ourselves to unrealistic standards.
Moms should be the coolest most talented mom!
I love Pinterest. So many good ideas. So many tips and recipes. However, sometimes I really don't like it. How does everyone take the most amazing pictures of the food they make? Is your whole life in a white box? Where is the reality? Where is the grit and orange glow from the tungsten lights? Again, I try not to compare myself to other mom's, bloggers, and the 'must do' lists that sometimes overwhelm me. I try to focus on the talents that I do have and use them to help my family and friends. No more Pinterest flops for me!
Mom’s are expected to do a lot more for their kids.
Remember when you were growing up? What did you do if you wanted to play with a friend? You would walk to their house and see if they were home. If you were old enough you would call them on the phone. Now, I get the incessant “Text his mom! See if he can play! Did they text back yet?” Up until an older age, almost all social coordination for the family, mom, and kids happens through mom's smart phone device.
Kids have so many activities and it isn't uncommon for a mom to spend three or more hours in the car and at various activities. I know I could have a side-rant about over-scheduled kids, but who am I kidding? I do the same thing. Whatever your decision may be, you need to get your kids between point A, B, C, D, E, F, & G in less than two hours, ready and on-time while figuring out what will be for dinner. So the moments that you may glance at your phone as you are waiting for your kids to be done. Cherish it!
Secret Service Agent
There are too many creepers in the world. From New Haven Connecticut to the occasional creeper in the neighborhood story, it is impossible to not be a paranoid parent. Statistically speaking, it is very unlikely that my kids will be kidnapped, or worse, but that doesn't stop me from constantly counting heads in any public situation (1-2-3-4….ok. 1-2-3-4 .. ok). I may even perform some inadvertent social profiling and physical perimeter, “Don't go past the wood chips! I can't see you over there!”
Safety Precaution Specialist
My oldest kid is almost eight years old. It is amazing the safety alerts and announcements that have come in just that short amount of time. From the good-ole years of 'Baby Einstein' to now where 'Screen time' is a four-letter-word. No bumpers in cribs. Rear-facing until the age of two. Normal seat belt by about Junior High. Maybe by the time your kid is ready to drive, he can sit in the front seat. Recalls happen almost once a month: the Bumbo seat, crib with the sliding front, and EVEN those Baby Einstein videos (yes, you can send those DVD's to Disney and they will write you a check for about $15 to $20). All things that I have bought and liked and now need to decide what to do with it.
Kids are interacting through technology more and more. Despite the way we parents may moan and groan about these new habits and idiosyncrasies, it won't stop. You should at least be aware of what your kids are doing online. They may be involved in multiple social media networks. It would be difficult for you to sit on your computer and go through all of the different feeds once the kids are in bed. Get yourself on the same social networks and put the app on your phone. Even if you don't interact with your kids online, it is better to at least 'Stalk' your kids and have a knowledge of their 'online' presence and behaviors.
Online Recess Volunteer
You may volunteer to help monitor kids during recess. Well, since a lot of interaction is happening online, there should be some responsible adults that are looking out for their kids and their kids' friends.
Kids have always been mean to each other. Today there is just so many different ways to do it and it is very easy to do it without getting caught. Texting, messagning apps, social media, e-mail. The list is endless and if abused by a mean kid, could destroy your kids life. You need to be VIGILANT and follow your kids, see who is texting them, messaging them, etc. Hopefully they will come to you if there is a problem, but if they are embarrassed, you will have to pick up on the mean comment attached to the 5th picture posted on Facebook. If you see something that you don't like, blow that whistle before the bullying gets out of hand.
Since you are the chauffeur, secret service agent, and wearing all of the other hats of a mom, you will invariably get calls and texts that need an immediate response. You cannot turn off your phone. Oh the agony of having a low battery! Oh the shear pain of having a dead phone AND being out of the house! All kidding aside, a few times I received a large group text when a kid in my neighborhood had been missing for more than an hour. Everything was fine, but it is a great way to get the whole neighborhood involved within minutes! That phone is your lifeline to the outside world. It's o.k. that you triple check that you have it and it is on at all times.
In short, Mom’s have to be VIGILANT!
There is one thing that hasn't changed ..
Don't get me wrong, I love being a mom. But the day-in day-out 24/7 grind can get to you. It is important to take a break. Mom's have always found a way to take a break. My mom would talk on the phone for hours. She would even hide in a crib to take a nap! I don't blame her! She had a lot of kids.
Kids need a break from their mom as well. They need to learn and function on their own.
An anthropologist would remark, “Now the mother is distancing herself from the young, in order to improve the success of her bread. If they do not learn how to hunt on their own, they will be left to die in the wilderness.” It is healthy for kids to learn how to entertain themselves and 'play.'
So how do you do it? I need to be ‘Connected’ but not ‘Obsessed’?
So you may have noticed the contradiction. You ALWAYS need your phone and need to check it, yet you shouldn't be addicted. How do you do this?
I am not a perfect person by any means, but this is the solution I choose for my 'Smart Phone Addiction.'[divider top="0"]
How to be an Effective Smart Phone Mom?
1. Avoid Multitasking
From my experience in life, it is easier to be successful if you FOCUS on one thing at a time. My house may be messy until the 15 minutes before company arrives. Somehow it only takes me 15 minutes to clean the house which normally takes 4 hours. The difference? I had complete FOCUS on cleaning my house. (And I have stuffed a bunch of stuff in my closets)
Don't try and do “Too much!” Don't Text and drive. It's dangerous. Don't over commit. It will stress you out and you will end up getting frustrated with your kids. Some say, “Take it one day at a time.” I say, “Take it 15 minutes at a time.” Enjoy the small moments that you have with your kids without interruptions. Likewise, enjoy the 15 minutes where you have locked yourself in the bathroom!
Don't look at your phone while you are 'trying' to help your kids with homework. Too much multitasking makes you ineffective at both things. If you do get a text or message that requires an immediate response, excuse yourself to your child and say, “I just need to respond to this, then I will get right back to your homework. “ Likewise, if you are on an incessant group text that keeps your phone buzzing during homework time, put your phone on silent. All of the texts will be there and you will be able to catch up with the conversation later.
Don't Be Rude. Try to follow commonly accepted social habits. If you are at lunch or at dinner with a group of friends or family, the occasional glance at your phone is fine. Maybe to be sure you haven't missed something from a babysitter. However, to be staring at your phone while in the company of others can be thought of as rude. Build and enhance relationships! You have already schuduled your time! Now enjoy the time with a friend or family member!
2. Take Breaks from Your Phone
Sometimes we are too attached to our phone. We should be able to put it away for a while and focus on 'something else.' Read a book, read a book to your kids, go outside. It is amazing how much you can get done without 'checking' your phone every 15 minutes.
Sometimes I will put my phone on silent and leave it in the bathroom or my bedroom. I will then have a better ability to 'FOCUS.' I may have missed a few calls or texts, but typically if it was only 15 minutes or a half hour, it isn't anything earth shattering.
3. Take Breaks from Your Kids
It is great to think of ourselves as SuperWomen and try and do EVERYTHING while trying to take care of kids. Take a break from your kids. Do something you enjoy! Work on a project. Take a class. Go to a movie by yourself. Anything to make you feel like a 'normal' person again. You didn't always have kids and you won't always be taking care of your kids. It is o.k. to take a break and maintain a sense of self and accomplishment that is outside of your kids.
4. Set Timers
Taking break from both your kids and your phone may be hard. Take baby steps. Start by setting a timer and leave your phone alone for 15 minutes, then try for an half hour, then an hour. You will realize that a phone is a great tool, but it does not have to 'Run your life.'
Taking a break from your kids requires a little more planning and coordination. However, if it is just 15 minutes, set a timer and go in your room. Put yourself in timeout and enjoy the silence. You will feel better and will be in a better mood with your kids.
In Conclusion …
I love my kids and love being a mom, but it is impossible to expect the mothering style of 20 to 30 years ago to 'work' today. It is o.k. to have a smart phone to help you manage your life. It is o.k. to take a break from your smart phone and from your kids. If your smart phone is causing you to become a less effective parent, figure out a way to control the use of your phone.
We are all human and are trying to do our best. Just take it 15 minutes at a time. If that doesn't work .. try 5 minutes!