Your Phone Is Why You Are Annoyed With Your Child...And Your Spouse

This morning, as I was getting ready for work, I listened to one of my favorite podcasts. This is the kind of multi tasking I can handle; makeup and listening to a podcast or book. It seemed like Rachel popped in every ten minutes, asking me for something or telling me something. By the third entry, I snapped in annoyance. I was trying to listen to my podcast. And then it hit me, she is bidding for my attention. And in pre phone life, putting makeup on could easily be interrupted by talking to my daughter. If I don’t have time for her now, when do I have time for her?

It goes both ways. Last night when I was cooking dinner, Jason sat attached to his phone. Not sure if it was work or Words With Friends. What I know was that when I tried to talk to him, I was annoying him, taking him away from the screen at hand. But wouldn’t that have been a great time to connect; while I was making dinner? If not then, when do we connect?

As I think about it, I’m on my phone so many times when there could be good connections. When Jason is driving, I’m scrolling through email and Facebook. When I sit in the waiting room with my daughter at the orthodontist, I pull out my phone. I am attending to my phone instead of to the person who means so much to me.

It’s no secret that we are filling up the nooks and crannies of the day with screen time. Whenever we have space, we pick it check email, facebook, Instagram, Slack, Pinterest. What calls to you? I have talked before about how this robs us of margin and time to daydream. But it’s really becoming crystal clear to me how it’s robbing us of connections.

You probably think you are with your kids a lot. Whether at the house or  park or soccer practice; but are you really present? Take a look around mamas. Everyone is looking at a screen.  Pretty much every mom I know worries about their kids’ screen time. But it’s our own screen time that is my big worry. Kids are very attuned to our attention, or our lack of it. Researchers have compared children’s reaction to digital distraction with maternal withdrawal and unresponsiveness. You are not a bad mom. But you may have an unhealthy relationship with your devices that is impacting your relationships with those around you. In a study of six thousand eight- to thirteen-year-old children, 32% reported feeling “unimportant” when their parents use their cellphones during meals, conversations, or other family times. The children reported competing with technology for their parents’ attention. Over half of the children in the study said their parents spend too much time on their phones. Frustration abounds for both parties.

It makes sense to get frustrated when someone interferes with your work. But I think we have a new problem when we get frustrated with someone interfering with our screen time. Clearly, I’m not perfect at this and it’s why I’m sharing it with you. I know that when I’m old, I won’t care how many likes or shares I got on social media. I won’t remember the Words with Friends Game nor will I think about that recipe from Pinterest. I will remember when I made a point to put the phone down and connect with my family

Here are some of the steps I’m taking to become less digitally distracted.

When my family bids for my time (whether on my laptop or phone), I will put it down and give them my full attention.

  1. I will set boundaries for my work time and let my family know when I need to work undisturbed.

  2. I will put my phone in the Unplugged box when I get home so I’m not tempted to get on it when it’s family time.  

  3. I’m going to delay gratification. This was a technique from when I used to work with eating disorders. When I get the urge to pick up my phone, I’m going to pause and delay it. If I still want to get on in a few minutes, at least I will know I was thoughtful about it.

  4. I’m going to take a weekly Sabbath. I’m going to set Sundays aside to use my phone very little if at all. We all need a day of rest.

If you want to learn more about the impact of too much technology on your family, join me for a free webinar on February 27th from 6pm-7pm PST/ 7pm MST/ 8pm CST / 9pm EST.

I will be telling you about my free Digital Detox challenge coming up so we can all become more present and peaceful in this digitally distracted world.