I’m Not Giving Up My Phone, But I Am Going To Unplug More Often

I’m Addicted To My Phone, And It’s Impacting My Family

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To say that I’m addicted to my phone is an understatement.

In addition to my full-time job which has programing that runs from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., I also manage a blog with a few hundred thousand followers. If I’m not answering messages from an employee or co-worker, I’m doing something for my blog, and there are times when if it weren’t for my phone, I’d be stuck in my office for hours on end, rather than at home, or my son’s sports practice, or my daughter’s dance lesson. I know this for a fact.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to be able to spend time with my family while still maintaining my work obligations, but ultimately what that comes down to is me being half at home, and half at work, answering my children’s questions in umms and ohhhs, not fully paying attention to what’s going on around me.

This is particularly apparent at the dinner table each time my wife catches me looking at my lap, my phone below the table like some high school student checking Twitter in class. (Do high school kids still check Twitter anymore? Perhaps it should be Snapchat? Oh well, it doesn’t matter.)

I always assume that she won’t notice.

But she always notices.

When I’m at the dinner table on my phone, Mel acts like I’m committing a cardinal sin, and she’s probably right. I have actually had her lean across the table and whisper, “If you don’t put that thing back in your pocket I’m going to rip it out of your hands and throw it in the toilet.” Then she gave me a straight-lipped mom look that shook me to the core.

And I mean, honestly, I know better. But it’s hard to put that stupid thing down sometimes. And it’s not like she is completely guiltless. I can’t count how many times she agreed to some ridiculous request from our children because she wasn’t really paying attention to their request while she was playing Candy Crush in the kitchen.

However, if we were to put both of us on a scale, I’d probably be a 10 with the phone problem, while she’d be closer to a 6.

So yeah, I’m addicted. But honestly, cell phones are a huge addiction for a lot of parents. Go to the park with your children and look around. You will see children playing and at least 9 out of 10 parents looking at their phones while wandering the sidelines of the playground. You can see the same thing at gymnastic practices and soccer games.

Please keep in mind that I’m not judging you. I am one of you.

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The plot thickens when I consider that my old therapist advised me to put my phone down too. Only this didn’t have anything to do with my family and everything to do with my depression and anxiety. According to her, social media usage can be a huge contributor to depression.

Well, I’ve decided I’m going to make a change. I’m not going to give it up completely — I couldn’t even if I wanted to because of my job — but I am going to put down that stupid phone more often this year. I’m going to leave it in the bedroom at dinner. I’m going to leave it in my pocket when we go to the park. I’m going to turn it off when I’m watching My Little Pony with my daughters, and when I go to my son’s soccer games.

By limiting my distractions, I hope to become more patient and more engaged. I hope to be more “there,” and live a fuller, better, life with my children. I mean, honestly, if the Ghost of Christmas Past were to take me on a tour of my life 20 years from now, he’d have a pretty difficult time finding a moment where I didn’t have my nose in my phone as my children were clamoring for my attention.

And that really sucks.

I’m sure someone is going to jump into the comments section and talk about how they don’t have a smart phone, or social media, or a TV, and all their communications are through messenger pigeon (even the comment they are leaving online). Well, great; good for you. I’m happy you enjoy living like it’s 1850. But for me, I love my phone. I really do. I just realized that it’s time to love it a little less, so that I can get a little more from this time, right now, with my family.

If you are like me, and you constantly feel the itch to pick up that phone, join me in putting it down. Pick a few times during the day: dinnertime, bed time, play time, and put that sucker in another room. Or better yet, turn it off. Let it go, and be present. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but honestly, in a situation like this, a little bit can go a long way.