I know I’m guilty of it.
I subconsciously grab for my phone the second I start nursing. I break it out during our walks so I can listen to music. During busy mornings, I plop her in front of the phone screen and put on Baby Einstein for a few minutes while I get ready. And when Stella is doing something totally adorable or new? I reach for my phone to take a video.
Why can’t I just live in the moment and revel in it?
Why do I need to constantly be connected digitally instead of being present?
Why is it so hard to put the phone down?
Face it, we’re addicted to technology.
It’s our culture, our world. Technology is all around us and is truly our lifeline. In fact, a good number of you are probably reading this blog post on your smartphone. I’m constantly amazed with how far we’ve come since I was young. Smartphones, tablets, techy watches, Google lenses, smart TVs, interactive apps – heck, even dryers can text you when the laundry is done! While it’s all so fascinating and cool, it’s so important for us to snap back to real life and unplug once in a while.
There is an obvious disconnect with the digital world and real world. I go to parties, out to dinner, shopping with friends, or even sit on the couch with my husband and still feel lonely. We’re physically present, but not mentally. Our minds are elsewhere in digital-land. We reach for our phones when the room gets awkwardly quiet, or we’ll text or video chat with friends instead of going over to see them in person. I could go an entire day and not actually speak or make eye contact with another human being (beside my daughter and husband, of course) in person. And while it’s become the social norm, I still feel a little discouraged when I can’t coexist or engage with people around me. And if I do strike up a conversation, I look like a kook.
It wasn’t until I watched a YouTube video titled “Look Up” (which if you haven’t seen it, is a must watch!) that it truly hit me. We are consumed, obsessed, and addicted to technology. I’m totally guilty of it. I close doors on the world around me in lieu of an emotionless, isolated, auto-piloted session on my phone. Is updating a status or searching Pinterest worth missing life’s precious moments? This wasn’t even a forethought for me before I watched this video. I had no idea the ramifications of me being on my phone for what I thought was a quick post, read, scroll or search. I forgot how to actually be social.
My first thought after watching the video turned to Stella. I’ve missed out on some pretty special moments by looking down blankly at a screen. I don’t want her to think that I’m an emotionless robot who can’t give her my full, undivided attention, and I don’t want her to fight to get me to look at her. That was my “aha” moment. I need to put the phone down and be present. Not only for my daughter, but with my husband, friends, family, and dog. I want to be the mom that misses phone calls and has no idea what hashtags are trending, and instead watches her daughter practice her dance for the umpteenth time, listens as she reads her favorite book, cheers her on as she uses the potty for the first time, and is attentive as she takes her first steps.
“We’re surrounded by children, who since they were born, have watched us living like robots and think it’s the norm. It’s not very likely you’ll make world’s greatest dad, if you can’t entertain a child without an iPad.”
–”Look Up” by Gary Turk
Making time for family
Sure, I’ll still use my phone here and there, but I don’t want to ever miss a moment again. Time is too precious and goes far too fast as it is. When I go back to all the times when Stella stared at me and smiled and I had my face buried in my phone, it makes me cringe. Why couldn’t I have just put down my phone and smiled back? Social media, pinning, checking email, and reading articles can wait. That meaningless stuff can and should always take a back burner when it comes to spending time with those you love, especially your children.
This summer, I’m making a family rule to unplug at least an hour a night – no phone, iPad, TV, radio, or anything distracting and just spend time together as family. What a perfect time to implement this rule! It’s beautiful outside and stays lighter longer, meaning there are many activities we can do as a family–both indoors and out. I’ll check social media and email in my down time, but attentiveness, interaction, and being emotionally present will come first. I’d like to slowly decrease my phone time altogether, but an addiction like this takes time. For now, I look forward to unplugging from digital-land and tuning into what really matters – reality.