A few months ago, I was pushing my daughter in her stroller on a beautiful day in the park and observed some parent doing the same while using her phone. Aghast, I thought to myself, “She must really not love her child, my goodness, what a neglectful parent!”
Okay, I didn’t take it that far, but I did judge her just a little bit. It’s not something I am proud of, but I did do it. I went right on judging later on when I was at the restaurant and meeting my girlfriend for some long overdue catching up (sans both our children) and noticed that three other tables next to us had their phones out and were not really looking at each other or talking to each other, I judged them a little too. Then later, I noticed still another parent give her mewling child an IPad to gain a little peace and judged a little more. I never said anything to anyone but if this was the sitcom version of my life, I would go up to all of them (ala the television show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) and bust out an improvisational (and yet perfectly choreographed) song and dance about how they are missing the best moments of life and to put the flinging flanging device down, I haven’t really found a rhyme for that, but I am working on it.
In real life, I silently judge and resume my own activity whatever that might be. I felt justified in my judging mainly because I had this idea in my head that to use my device around her at all meant that I was a neglectful parent or it meant somehow I cared less about her because I was doing something on my phone, I never want her to see me using the phone and think for one second it or any other device means more to me than her. This was the story I was telling to myself and no one told that to me, and then a few weeks ago when taking care of my own child 24/7 I found myself seeking the refuge of a few minutes with a device or computer rather than the constant “you are on, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1” wait, no scratch that, “You are on, NOW” of being with an active toddler.
I definitely had a lot more leniency in my minds for those I had judged because while not “the answer to life and all its problems”, it definitely provided me with a few minutes of sanity amidst a day of a very fussy Vivienne. Therefore, to all of you out there who I have judged for this, (including my own husband) I sincerely and heartily apologize for judging you.
On the flipside of that, Do I think we could all stand to use devices less? With a count of 80 checks a day to our phones, you bet your bahookie I do, and I think there is room for balance here that I have not previously acknowledged. I really think we are becoming a society of people who spend far too much time behind a screen so I suggest some balance.
A very shocking statistic, some people would give up sex rather than go one day without their phone. Even more shocking, some would choose to give up chocolate rather than their phone.
Some things that I have started to do to help this.
On my days off, I wake up and leave my phone in the bedroom until I head to the gym, or out with friends, that allows me to spend time with my daughter and husband sans phone.
We do not use our phones during meals (we even have a phone jail)
I actively turn off my phone or put it on silent when with other people for dinner or coffee.
I heard about one mother who committed to not using devices when her child was awake, and that’s inspiring. I am not sure I can do that, or that I want to do that, and I love that she has that goal for herself.
Do I think that could work for you? Maybe. It’s up to you how little or how much technology you want to allow and when (whether you have kids or not).
I can’t say for sure what will work for you, and what will not. I encourage you to experiment with it and see how long you can go without it and be intentional about when you choose to use it. My only ask?
Think About It.