Monday, May 14, 2012

A difficult, but necessary change for me...

Mid-week last week, I was reading an article, linked from Facebook, about how it is so common to see parents giving their kids half of their attention because they are so busy with their noses in their devices.  Whether it be a smart phone, a tablet, an e-reader, whatever..... You can read the article here.

Two things about this article really hit home, and left me with tears in my eyes:

1)     The article hit on parents giving their children a half-hearted "uh-huh," when their child shows them something they've made or can do, because the parent was too busy with their device to really pay attention to the child.

2)     The article hit on the child proudly bringing the device to the parent after it was left in the other room, like that child had done the parent a huge favor. 

It hurts to admit that I'm addicted to my iPhone.  But I must do it.  That little device is such a wealth of information and entertainment.  However, my children are growing up right before my eyes, and I don't want - for a second - for them to ever feel like I don't care about them or what's going on in their lives. 

So I challenged myself starting last week, after reading the article, to put my phone in my purse after work and not get it out until after the kids were in bed.  I'm sad to say I didn't do very well with it.  I could make excuses like Matt was out of town, his dad was put on hospice, and I was keeping my phone out for updates on the situation.......I could make excuses all day.  But the truth is, I could have heard the phone ring in my purse had Matt needed to get ahold of me.  If I was just keeping my phone out in case Matt called, then why was I sitting on the floor of the toyroom checking facebook while my kids played? Oh, it hurts so much to admit that this is the mom I've become.

I didn't do well over the weekend, either.  I would hear myself get a Facebook notification, or text message, and I'd tell myself I'd just check the message, then put the phone back away.  I'm not kidding, 10 minutes would pass before I'd realize that I was again immersed in the virtual world, only giving my kids half-hearted attention.  This is so heart-breaking, isn't it?

The good thing is that I realized - though not soon enough - what I was doing, and put my phone away several times, but the bad thing is that I failed at my first attempt at going tech-free, and kept finding myself drawn into the iPhone world once again.

So, with all of that being said (sigh - feels good to admit it, though I'm so embarrassed to admit it), I'm not giving up.  My kids deserve SO MUCH more than half of me. I'm just going to try harder.  As with any change you make in your life, it takes practice.  I'm not deleting my facebook, I'm not cancelling my data package with Verizon. But I AM going to be the engaged and present mommy that my boys need, and my "virtual friends" can hopefully understand if I don't respond as quickly as they're used to.

I've made myself a couple simple rules:

1) I can check my phone at the following times:
     6 am while I'm eating my breakfast
     On my lunch hour at work
     5 pm on my way home
     After the boys are in bed AND after I've had good quality time and conversation with my husband
This is 4 times a day.  Do I need to be filled in on the mundane details of people's lives more than 4 times a day?  Nah.

2) While at work, I leave the phone in my purse, but with the volume on.  I can check the phone if it's a text message or phone call, in case it's the babysitter.
     If the text/call is not from Angie (babysitter), it waits to be responded to until my lunch hour, or 5 pm.

It's really that simple.  It's sad that it's so hard to follow these rules, but it has to happen.  Hendrix has been a bit of a challenge lately, and part of that is him being a 2-year old, I know.  But part of me wonders if he's acting out because he's not getting the attention he needs from me.  We shall soon find out!

Real life is happening right in front of me. It's mid May.  The grass and the trees are a deep green, the flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping.  My kids are running around (well, half of them are, anyway!) and giggling right in front of me.  Why in the world would I even want to miss out on that because I'm staring at a backlit screen, reading words?  Hendrix says the funniest things!! I'm in utter dis-belief that my baby is a month away from his 1st birthday.  Wow.  I won't miss any more of these small moments.  I can't afford it.  Life is too short, and it moves at way to fast of a pace.

Who wants to join me in this tech-free, child-focused journey?  I'm guessing that the most amazing things will happen.....I can't wait. :o)

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