I was a busy mother of three, with a five month old baby, a preschooler, and a second grader. And, my smartphone had taken over my life.
I know that sounds overly dramatic. But, if you have a smartphone in your hand right now, you probably know what I mean. All day long, the dinging. The tiny flashing light that said that someone was communicating. The constant draw to check Facebook, to look at my email, to read the news, to look up trivia.
While waiting at the doctor’s office with my children, instead of talking to them, I was glued to my phone. While waiting in the carpool line, while the baby babbled and giggled, while my four year old asked questions and told stories, I only half listened. And, I didn’t look at them when I was half listening. Whatever was on my phone seemed important, seemed immediate. It seemed like it needed my attention.
Meanwhile, my precious four year old was trying to get between the screen and me, just so that he could be seen.
I remember being tired at the end of the day. I was technology weary. I felt battered by the pull of the big, important world that constantly streamed into my day through my phone. And, I knew that I was only there for my children in body, not in spirit. I was miserable.
I wondered if I could do it. I questioned whether I could live without my apps and my immediate answers to burning questions and my constant connection to the outside world. But, I did it anyway. I went to the phone store and got myself a little cell phone with a slide out keypad for texting.
And, I unplugged from the world.
I started looking my children in the eyes when they talked. I started paying more attention to their quirky little expressions. During waiting times, we talked. I asked lots of questions and listened to their answers. I used my hands to hug, pat, and squeeze them while we sat together, instead of using them to navigate the internet.
I miss my GPS. I really do. I’m directionally challenged. But, in every other single way, life is so much better without that brilliant little piece of technology in my pocket, in my hands, on my mind.
I’m not saying that you aren’t a good parent if you have a smartphone. Chances are you have much better self-control than I did. You probably put the phone down when your child talks to you. You probably resist the urge to pull it out during every free moment. You probably aren’t miserable by the end of the day.
But, if you know in your heart that your phone is keeping you from being the kind of parent you want to be, if you feel like I did, that your smartphone is ruling your life, I just want you to know that you can survive without it. Even more, in my experience, you can be much happier without carrying all the knowledge and nonsense of the world in your back pocket.
I used to think that everyone would think I’m old and out of touch if I didn’t have a smartphone. And, maybe they do. But, the most common reaction that I get is envy. People get tired of living as slaves to their smartphones, but they’re afraid they can’t make it without one.
Well, take it from me. You can. And, if you identify with anything I’ve written here, you should. Life is short. You don’t have to get pushed around all day by a tiny computer in your pocket. Consider it a chance to be alternative. When I am digging paper maps out of my glovebox on vacation, I have to smile a little smugly to myself. It may not be the easiest way, but it is certainly the best way for me and these fleeting days with my babies.
I’m no longer a slave to amazing technology. I use technology as I see fit now, in my home, on my computer, and usually after my kids are in bed. Yes, I still use technology. I just don’t let it use me anymore.