I recently realized that I’m spending too much time on my phone while in my daughter’s presence.
I thought I was scrolling through blogging groups for a few seconds, or just taking a peek at my website’s stats. Then Baby Bird started to put her hand over the screen or slap the phone out of my hands.
I assumed she was being a mischievous tot. Then it occurred to me that my child was craving my attention, and she was doing the only things she could think of to get it.
It broke my heart. All she wanted was for her mama to take notice, and I was focused on Facebook or Pinterest.
I used to say I carried my phone everywhere in case of an emergency. Now I’m willing to acknowledge that checking statuses, scrolling through Instagram — it’s a compulsion, and it’s one that I’m afraid could rub off on my child.
The beginnings of it are already there. When she sees a phone, iPad, or computer, she wants it. If there’s a phone in her line of sight, she’d rather play with it than interact with anyone in the room. Maybe she’s drawn to the bright light. Maybe it’s the swiping that’s the lure. Maybe …
It’s moments like this that make me feel like I’m failing her. But in these moments, there’s room for growth.
I’ve decided to:
- Turn off a lot of notifications. I don’t need to know each time someone follows me on Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. I don’t even need to know about every new email.
- Set a special ringtone for family members — then ignore their calls. That might sound mean, but here’s what I’m thinking: If they call once and don’t leave a voicemail, it wasn’t that important. If they call, leave a message, and call back, I need to pick up because something’s wrong.
- Leave my phone on the living room mantel during the day. If there is an emergency, I’ll know where it is. If Baby Bird and I leave the main floor, I take the phone with me and leave it on her dresser. It’s always close enough to get to it quickly, but no longer on my body.
- Use Tori Spelling’s one-charge tip. If I only power up once a day, I’ll be less likely to kill the battery when I’m with my daughter by scrolling, scanning, or Instagramming.
- Work on focusing. Naptime is when I can return emails and phone calls, write, and schedule appointments. If I waste that time on social media, I’m SOL.
Bottom line: I’m gonna try not to use the phone at all when I’m with my daughter. I’ll do everything I can to give her my full attention, and to mentally be in the moment with her. I expect it to be brutal at the start, but I need Baby Bird to see that she’s my priority, and that the tiny talking machine is no competition.
Her childhood will only last so long, and I refuse to sacrifice any more minutes of it to social media.