I had a tough day last week. You know, one of those days when you get one kid settled and the next starts crying or arguing. Lets just say it was a day that everyone napped, even the eight year old.
After I got everyone in bed, I hopped on my phone. I deserved a few minutes of sanity right? A few people I follow on Instagram were talking about putting their phone on airplane mode for the day because of a Ted talk they saw. I was intrigued. I watched a video entitled Can flip phones end our social media addiction? by Collin Kartchner. To be honest, I wasn't moved to change my life until 12 minutes into the talk. I could see parallels in Collin's story with my own children. Could my children be acting out because I was looking down a little too often?
This isn't a new concept breaking the addiction of phone usage. But, what really strung at my heart is that day my kids had asked for my attention, but I was busy posting a photo or replying to a comment. And this wasn't the first day it has happened.
I know that some of you may have really good habits around your phone and this isn't an issue. But I don't. And I think a lot of SAHM's are in the same position as I am. We feel that we need to connect to more humans taller than four feet during the day.
Why do I turn to my phone?
I feel lonely staying at home some days without an adult conversation for hours. I think posting on social media validates that my work at home as worthy and important. Rather than just knowing it actually is the most vital work ever, I post about it. My season of life is full right now. I am utilizing social media as a way to disengage and escape when things get stressful.
I comment on someone's post when I don't agree, I consider when someone comments the most important feedback of the day rather than a hug or kiss from one of my boys.
Oh my goodness why?
Why do I turn to my phone?
I am addicted.
How do I know I am addicted? I know I am addicted because I have seen my usage. I have been trying to use my phone less each week because I get reminded every Sunday how much time I used the previous week. For iphone users this is in general settings under "screen time". This is eye opening. Think you don't use your phone that much...I challenge you to track it. There is also another app called Moment that allows you to do this on devices. The screen time data allows you to see how much time per day, what apps you are utilizing most, how many notifications you get and whether your screen time is up or down from the previous week.
Lets just take a look at my data from last week. And remember this is me being more mindful of my time.
Pick ups per day 86 (how many times I picked up my phone)
Notification 600 (how many times the screen had a pop up message)
Hours per day 6 (on my phone looking down)
Do you keep using the excuse that you don't have time? Time to exercise, study more, read, be silly with your kids, learn a new language, travel, etc.. Start monitoring you phone usage and the answer to creating more time may be in the palm of your hands.
My kids are watching every single time I look at my phone. My kids are watching every time I check a notification. My kids are watching every time I choose technology over people in the room. My kids are watching me take the perfect photo to post with the best filter and props and caption. My kids are being taught that the phone is very important. Six hours a day important...that is a part time job? I could sleep an entire nights worth of rest, I could fly across country, read a book, write, run 2 half marathons with time to spare, I could do nothing and play with my children. Six hours a day is 42 hours in a week. Is it only me that thinks this is absurd?
Benefits of social media
Social media has its benefits and I know many of you will argue this is my own problem. I should learn to use it as a tool, set up habits, change my behavior...all that good stuff. And I can't say those are not good ideas. I 1000% agree social media has many benefits for conversation, learning, finding people, the list is endless. It has helped me as well. Just because something is good doesn't mean there isn't something better.
Benefits of a smartphone
My phone is utilized for other productive things than social media. It is a tool for me in many ways. It is our only form of communication in our home. My husband can't talk on the phone at work so we text often about important things such as our schedule or money or something with the kids. I read books on my phone, I use a running app that tracks my time and miles, we listen to audiobooks at lunch, we listen to our composer on it with YouTube, it is my only camera, I run a business on Instagram, we FaceTime family, I use the realtime maps to navigate for errands daily, the list could go on. I see these as benefits as aides that add value to my life and yet at the same time I see it as a list of excuses. I could never live without my phone because it tracks my miles and I'm training for a half marathon. I could never live without a phone because I run a business with a social media presence. I could never get rid of my phone because I read on it and I don't want the clutter of books. For every benefit there is an counter augment.
Why then even change?
My eight year old has asked when he could get a phone. My husband and I tell my eight year old when he can support himself financially and pay for a phone bill he can buy one. We tell him this because we know that he cannot accomplish that goal right now. In about five years I am afraid that could actually happen.
But, I also don't want him to have a phone when he is thirteen. I'm crazy, I'm stifling him from technology, I'm shielding him from the world, I am keeping him in a bubble. I know many of you are thinking those thoughts.
The truth is... I don't want him to have an all access pass to porn at the mere age of 13. I don't want him to choose to go be on his phone instead of spending time with family. I don't want him to waste hours playing Candy Crush and let life pass him by. I don't want him to be a cyber bully or get bullied. I don't want him to validate his self worth and existence and goals and hopes and dreams all based on a phone. I just want him to be thirteen when he turns thirteen.
And guess what...
They just want us to be moms.
After I watched Collin's talk and have been tracking my data these questions started coming up:
Had my life gotten so busy and full that without a smartphone it would crumble?
Have I been spoon-fed so many apps that my brain couldn't function without it?
Could I go without a smartphone?
No I can't. Right now in my life I cannot go without a smartphone. I realized that I rely so heavily on my phone that I would need to reevaluate whole systems in place to keep life less stressful. This piece of technology is being utilized as a tool to assist me in creating a more meaningful life for a multitude of reasons. But at the same time it is being overused and abused. And I need to implement safeguards to change the current path.
In order to change this trajectory: I will no longer continue adding to my social media accounts and have deleted them from my phone, I purchased an alarm to put on my nightstand, I purchased a timer for school and I am utilizing the downtime and app limit settings in the "screen time" function on my phone. I plan to create a recipe box, an address book (yes real paper and pen types), use a kindle for reading books, purchase a real camera and plan more check ins to see how my systems can be continually re-evaluated.
I do plan on emailing a newsletter twice a month to those who are signed up to receive the email. I also plan on moving forward with my business without an active social media presence and this does not worry me at all. If you want to subscribe to the newsletter please click here.
On Friday, I went to Ikea to pick up a few things. It was a delightful trip. The kids went into childcare, I got a coffee and strolled around for an hour with a few things in my basket, we ate lunch together and then headed home. When we ate lunch our conversation was so lively; more so than it has been in the past week. Perhaps it was we all just had a break from each other, perhaps it was the good coffee or filling carbs of $1.50 pizza or just maybe it was that my phone was put away and my eyes were on them. There was no post documenting the trip, my finds and how to utilize them in your home, the silly things that were said, photos of the pizza mustache; one could even wonder if that day even happened if I didn't have my receipts. Perhaps it was a delightful trip because we were just us: a mom and her three boys in the moment without a phone interrupting our time together.
Thank you for reading,
Mindful Miss Mason