How Putting Away My Cell Phone Improved My Relationship with My Children

IMG_2801A few weeks ago, my daughter chucked a book at my face. And let me tell you, it hurt. I don’t think she was looking to cause me harm. She wasn’t angry or upset. I think she just wanted my attention. I’d been sitting on the couch reading on my phone, and she wanted to play. So my toddler daughter threw a book at me. It definitely got my attention. It also got me thinking.

Has this ever happened to you? You’re scrolling through social media, texting, or just reading on your phone, and your child pitches a fit. Or throws something at you. Or throws your phone. It’s all to get our attention, to pull us away from our phones. So I began to wonder, what if I put my phone away? What would happen? Are you curious to know? Here are the five changes I’ve noticed since I decided to put away my cell phone.

1. My kids, particularly my toddler, have less tantrums. My daughter has always had a bit of a temper, and when she reached 18 months, she hit the terrible twos with a vengeance. She has been known to stomp, scream, hit, and throw the occasional book when she’s worked up. But since I began leaving my cell phone in the kitchen, my daughter’s tantrums have been halved. She’s happy, I’m happy, and my face hurts a whole lot less.

IMG_27942. My kids are generally happier. Children love to have our attention, and their number one source of competition is definitely our cell phones. Even if you’re just “finishing this sentence” or “wrapping up this email,” they know that they’re playing second fiddle to your phone. Once I separated my work time from my time with the kids, I noticed that there were a lot more smiles in our house.

3. I feel less guilty. I’ve always felt a bit guilty about using my phone around my kids, but I never had the strength to do anything about it. I’ve always felt bad about making those excuses, about splitting my time between my screen and my kids when I didn’t really need to, but it’s only been recently that I’ve attempted to change things. My kids will only be young for so long, and I don’t want to miss those little moments with them. Now that I’ve committed to keeping my phone in the kitchen, the guilt has disappeared because I know that I’m making the right decision- for me and for my kids.

4. I have more patience with my kids. I like to read in my free time, and once I find a really good book, it’s hard to put down my phone (Yeah, I use my phone like a book more than I use it like a phone.). When I’m reading and the kids are playing or my son is doing schoolwork, I’ve been known to be a bit curt with them when I feel like I’ve been interrupted. But the truth? I can find other opportunities to read, but my kids want and need my attention now. I have so much more patience with my son and his schoolwork now that I put my phone away, and when my kids want my attention as they play, I don’t feel the need to rush them so that I can go back to reading.

IMG_27955. I feel like I am present for more with my kids, but I also rarely feel like I’m missing out on other areas of my life because I’m not always attached to my phone. While I was deliberating setting boundaries for my phone, my number one concern was getting work done and staying up-to-date with my friends’ lives. As it turns out, I didn’t need to be worried. Limiting my work time has just made me more efficient with the time that I have left. Less time spent scrolling through social media. Less time refreshing my email and apps, waiting for changes. And my friends have never once suggested that I seem less present to them. The only people who have noticed any change are my children, and it’s a change that they have definitely appreciated.

I really like my phone. I do. It makes my life so much easier and more enjoyable. It’s a phone, camera, book, computer, planner, and music player, all wrapped up in one tiny device. On the rare occasion that I leave my phone at home by accident, I feel like I’ve lost a limb. But I also realize that my cell phone is a source of controversy in my home. It is a distraction, a constant temptation to mindlessly scroll or obsessively read comments. It pulls me away from my children, and encourages me to split my attention. It has negatively impacted my relationship with my children, a fact I didn’t fully appreciate until I chose to put my phone down. And now that I’ve done it? I would highly recommend that you give it a try too. Your children will thank you for your decision.

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