technology, distracted parenting, being a role model, mindful parenting,

On the first day of the school holidays I found myself gravitating towards my phone too often. I was checking emails, browsing websites for the latest school holidays info that I had to have immediately, I even played a game. It felt like my mind was so used to going at a fast speed that slow was no longer an option. I had to keep myself occupied.

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And I wasn’t alone. I watched other parents at the playground. Some of them were on their phones the whole time. Others would stop and check their devices every now and then. It was a rare parent that remained technology-free while I was watching.

Then I tried to see the situation from my children’s point of view. What does this technology craze mean to them?

  • That our devices are more important to us than they are. Far-fetched, I know, but this is exactly how I feel sometimes when my husband wouldn’t leave his phone alone and it’s easy to imagine that my children would feel the same way about me.
  • That it’s good to be connected at all times, ignoring face-to-face communications in favour of digital ones. We, parents, are role models and our children will learn from us. Do I like to imagine my kids attached to their devices at all times and hardly paying attention to anything else around them? Absolutely not, what a scary picture!

I’d love to be able to say that I changed my technology habits as soon as I realised how they were affecting my parenting, but it wouldn’t be true. It took me about a week of paying attention, setting limits and reminding myself to put the phone down before I got to a point where I consider my phone use reasonable. It’s still a work in progress and it’s still not coming easy to me, but I’m getting better at it. You can, too. Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Decide on limits that will allow you to stay connected without threading on your family time.
  • Remember to turn off your devices while you’re talking to your children and make an effort to focus on them (it’s good manners).
  • Leave your phone behind to go out with your kids for a few hours. Notice how you’re feeling without it.
  • Ask your children to keep you accountable. Are you feeling reluctant to do it? This is because you know just how effective it can be.

Sounds like too much work? It gets easier. After a few days you realise that the world is not going to end if you check your email twice a day instead of every 3 minutes and you’re not missing out on anything important if you’re not on Facebook all the time. The smiles on your kids’ faces make it all well worth it.

Image by JESHOOTS via pixabay.com