We were playing on the floor in my daughter’s room. I was sitting next to her as she worked on a puzzle, my son was playing in the pretend kitchen, and my infant was on a blanket with some toys. I clicked away on my phone checking blog stats, social media updates, and responding to emails.
My daughter would put a piece of the puzzle in the correct location, and I would glance up and give her a quick “nice work!” and go back to my phone. My son would bring me a plate of plastic waffles, a sandwich, and a bottle of water. I quickly pretended to nibble on each piece of food, quipped that my belly was so full, handed the plate back to him, and returned to my phone.
I was playing with them, giving them attention, right? The eye contact, the words, the inflection of my voice while I played were all signs that I was present, right? Wrong. It wasn’t until my two-year-old looked at me, grabbed my phone, and said, “Mommy, put the phone down” that I had a complete revelation.
I mean, seriously, the fact that she had internalized what I was doing and then put the words together to express her disapproval was quite shocking. The guilt set in. It set in hard. I made a promise to myself and to my kids in that moment. I vowed to spend one hour of each day completely unplugged. I know, it doesn’t sound like much, but it is manageable. Don’t get me wrong, I spend a lot of time each day playing with them, cooking meals, doing laundry, stepping on toys and picking them up a thousand times—but I also check my phone when I hear a buzz or feel a vibration, respond to emails or social media, and obsessively check my blog statistics for the day.
When I wake up in the morning, I wriggle out from under whichever child is laying on top of me and grab my phone. I check five things: Facebook, Instagram, my email, my Etsy shop, and my blog statistics. It’s almost an obsession, something I need to do before I start the day.
I think as a stay at home mom, I thrive on those connections to the outside world. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the time I have at home with my kids—but we have all read an article or two on what it is like to be a stay at home mom. Communication with the outside world keeps me sane.
I felt like I had a good balance, but clearly I didn’t. My two-year-old noticed that I had my face buried in my phone instead of on her puzzle accomplishment. It was time to make a change. So, from three to four p.m. every day I am going to charge my phone, turn the ringer on so that I can answer if my husband calls, and ignore everything else, unplugging completely. I am going to spend that time focusing on my kids. Everything else can wait.
[Photo credit to Katie Chiavarone]
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