Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Magic that Happens When You Put the Phone Away

I was sitting at my son's basketball game last night, talking to a friend whose smart phone recently died.

She's been using a "non-smart" replacement phone for a couple of weeks until she can get a new iPhone with her plan renewal, but in the process, she's noticed something that I think will resonate with all of us.

A smart phone can often become more of a distraction than a help.

And by always being available to "everyone else," we, as mothers, are becoming unavailable to our families.

Have you felt that, too?

There has been lots of talk about what role "the phone" plays in motherhood, and I think we're all trying to figure out the right balance, but it's become more and more clear to me in the past few months that I have to be extremely deliberate about how much time and attention I give this iPhone of mine.

Because there is something else that matters more.

A few weeks ago, I decided that I would only check my email and text messages at certain intervals during the day.

Wow, that was hard (but I'm keeping at it, and it's making a big difference!  More on that below . . .).

On one Friday afternoon, I picked up Spencer from kindergarten just four hours before I needed to leave to our L.A. Power of Moms Retreat.

There were some last-minute emails flying around and a few logistics I needed to figure out, but as I got out of the van, I resisted the urge to check my phone for any incoming messages.

"Hey Mom!  Do you know there's a black car down the street that looks just like my friend Phoenix's?"  Spencer asked.

"No, I didn't know that.  What does it look like?"  I responded.

"It's kind of like a rectangle, and it's kind of long.  Do you want to go on a walk to go see it?"

It was raining outside, and I was hungry, and I still needed to pack things up and get the kids settled before I left.

Typically, I would have said, "Maybe another time, honey, but we need to get in for lunch."

But this time, I said, "Yes!  Yes I would like to go on a walk.  Do you want to take our umbrellas since you didn't get to take one to school today?"

(He'd had a bit of a meltdown that morning because he wanted an umbrella to use during the 90-second walk into the classroom, but we only have golf-sized ones, and he had a hood that worked just fine, so we didn't let him.)

Well, Spencer got the BIGGEST smile on his face, and we went into the garage to get our umbrellas, and then we walked up the street, checked out that cool black car that looked just like Phoenix's, and then made the two-minute walk back in the rain.

(I did take out my phone to snap a picture:)

And then I realized something about myself that pricked me in the heart a little bit.

I've let myself get too distracted by my phone and my task list and my schedule.  And I'm pretty sure I've missed out on some special moments like the one above.

There are all kinds of reasons and excuses--good ones--that I can provide, and I AM with my children for most of each day, but I don't want to miss chances to walk in the rain with my kids or paint nails on the kitchen floor with my daughters or laugh with my husband at night before I go to bed (because he is hilarious).

So I've made the decision that when my kids are around, I'm going to do everything I can to be accessible to them.  And that means I've been missing text messages and not responding to emails as quickly as before. 

But something sweet and precious and magical is happening in my life that I simply can't afford to miss.

Any other thoughts on this?  I'd appreciate anything you have to add.



  1. Love this April. I try to remember this magic is a drop in the bucket of my life. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Just last week, I got a smart phone for the first time. I was worried that the constant access to the internet would be a huge distraction for me, but, surprisingly, the thing that distracts me the most is the "talk to text" feature. It is so much easier and faster to text, which means I can engage in longer conversations with friends and family--not a bad thing, but I noticed the other day that I was spending so much time texting that I wasn't engaging with my son. Lame! I am definitely going to work on putting the phone away!

  3. I think I need to read this post at least once a week. I always say I am going to do better at it- and I do-- and then slowly (or quickly) slip back into being on my phone way too much. Glad you didn't miss this moment.

  4. I have a very bad habit and I am really getting desperate to change it-- this post is but one of the things pointing me in the right direction. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!


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