Sometimes it really feels like my kids versus my phone. Which will win for my attention? This last week, I decided to let my kids win the never-ending battle.
It meant more trains running around the bend, more pretend pup parties and more snuggles. The best part of all – my boys were more well behaved – they picked on each other less, they threw fewer temper tantrums. It was a dream come true.
Here’s how you can make it happen in your own house:
1. Set boundaries – This is one of the easiest steps, simply decide where you won’t use your phone. Think of bonding places – the dinner table, during story time, snack time. Anytime you can be bonding with your child – put the phone down. The kid in front of you is much more important than what the boy who weirded you out in 6th grade is saying on Facebook.
2. Give them 15 – When you first see your kids for the day, give them 15 minutes of undivided attention. Stay-at-home moms – this means when you wake up for the morning. Yes, I know you’ve been up for an hour already cleaning the house and catching up on your DVR — or you’re getting your first hour of sleep after a late night between all the kids – either way, put your best foot forward for your little guys and girls.
Working moms – this means when you get home, drop the phone. I know, you’re still in work mode. This is so hard for me – right before I left work I sent five emails, I made two calls on my way home. But cool it. You were just at work for 8 – eh hem – 10 hours. Your kids haven’t seen you since last night – give them a moment.
That 15 minutes gives you the chance to unwind from work. It also sets up the rest of the night or day well. The more attention my kids get, the better behaved they are. Give them the attention, then follow up with any messages you have on your phone and make dinner. They are a lot more likely to give you the space (or at least not kick their brother and scream your name 5,000 times) if you poured out your love when you first saw them.
3. Set time limits – Yes, just like you do for their screen time. Time slips away when you’re on the phone. There are things we NEED to be doing, but before you know it – you’re knee-deep in photos/posts from 2010 trying to figure out when your ex-boyfriend from 12 years ago had three kids.
This rule is simple. When you grab your phone, explain to your kiddos you have a few things to do online. Tell them they can read, build or do a project while you work. I think the conversation is important because then it’s understood you’re not looking up at how many eyes he glued to his alien because you have your own project.
The first thing you should do is set your time limit. 5, 10, 15, 30 minutes – doesn’t matter, just stick to it.
4. Silence is golden – Turn your darn phone on silent. This way you won’t have your curiosity peeked every time you hear it chirping at you. As part of this, consider turning off the notification functions for social media sites.
If you’re too anxious to be away from your phone follow rule number 5.
5. Designate specific ringers for specific people. That way when you hear your first dance song coming from your phone you know it’s your husband (or in the case of my husband, an annoying shrill ringtone, then you know it’s me – thanks for that Hun) and “I can see your halo, halo, halo” – means your teenage daughter is calling (ha – obviously I don’t have a teenage daughter).
That’s what’s worked for me as I try to let my kids win the battle against the smartphone.