Put The Phone Down And Hang Out With The Kids
We are in a digital age, constant social media updates are the norm, a truly connected universe. But I ask, at what cost? A friend of mine was recently at a play date with several other parents and told me what she witnessed. I was shocked to say the least.
It goes something like this. “We got together to hangout because we hadn’t seen each other in a while and a play-date was a great way to share the parenting responsibility while reconnecting with each other. I couldn’t believe it, all the moms were on their phones heads down, and the TV was on in the background. There was no conversation between us save for a few, ‘did you see this on Facebook?’s.”
I’m not doing it because I have to; I’m doing it because it’s an addiction that many of us suffer from.
Look, I’m guilty of it too. Every once in a while, when our boys are playing together I grab my device, check twitter, read the news, and check email. I’m not doing it because I have to; I’m doing it because it’s an addiction that many of us suffer from. The problem with this addiction is that there is no stigma around it, there is no one calling you out on it. Well guess what, I am.
If there is one thing that taking this short pat leave has taught me is that unplugging really does make you happier.
There has been some media buzz, saying that people are happier when they unplug from work and stop checking emails during family time. I am not surprised. If there is one thing that taking this short pat leave has taught me is that unplugging really does make you happier. A recent article from the Washington Post says that it’s not quantity of time with our kids, it is in fact quality of time together that matters. So I urge all of my fellow parents to make the time with your kids count and give them your undivided attention. According to this article, on average moms spend only 14 hours a week with their kids, while for dads it is about half that.
So I urge all of my fellow parents to make the time with your kids count and give them your undivided attention.
I’m challenging myself and all of you to do this… put your phone down, and walk away. I’m making a specific distinction, I’m not saying down I’m actually saying away. Here is my pledge to myself in the hopes that I can spend even more meaningful time with my kids. When I’m with my kids, my cell phone or iPad will be MORE than 10 feet away. This means I’ll have to put it in a different room where, wait for it, I might not hear it. The reason for this, if there is no trigger for me to want to check my phone like a beep, buzz or a chirp, I won’t go to it in an instant of boredom. I’m going to try to retrain myself to stay engaged with my kids.
When I’m with my kids, my cell phone or iPad will be MORE than 10 feet away.
I hear the moans and the groans already. ‘I need it for work’, ‘what if its an emergency?’. Well work should not take priority over your children, if it’s an emergency, there are other ways you can be reached, or you’ll get repeated calls. In any event you’ll get the hint and know that you actually HAVE to get to your phone.
More importantly, your kids will get the hint. I’m hoping to be more in the moment; if that means playing in the pretend kitchen cooking soup, or lying on the floor working on a puzzle, reading a book, or playing at the park (don’t forget to let the kids play and explore on their own at the park).
I want my kids to see that I can keep a handle on my technology addiction because they are more important to me than another email or tweet.
Look, there are several blogs on this site saying that our electronics aren’t good for us so lets ditch them when we are spending time as a family.
Here is how I’m going to put the phone down:
- When I’m with my kids, my phone will live in a separate room or the 10 feet rule.
- At the park, my phone will stay in my pocket. If I need to check the time, I’m sure there will be plenty of people around who will know.
- If my kids are playing together and don’t want me to play (i.e. awesome times) I’ll pick up a book, do something creative with my time, maybe bake. Ya, I cook and bake.
Let’s all have fun with our kids, let them use their imagination and be creative. We did when we were growing up. Let’s teach them the joy of reading from a book. I want my kids to see that I can keep a handle on my technology addiction because they are more important to me than another email or tweet.
How do you unplug around your kids? I’d like to know.
Andrew obtained his PhD from the University of Waterloo in Physiology, a topic not entirely having to do with with kids health specifically. Andrew’s expertise in kids health and raising children stems from his now 4+ years of direct hands on experiences with 4 young boys. My goal is to share some practical advice and some of the little not-so-perfect things my kids have done and how we managed to figure it all out so you can too.