It’s the weekend and you’re bringing your child to the mall to run some errands.
You board the train, got a seat, and you feel the urge to check your phone to see if anyone messaged you.
Well.. I definitely don’t want to miss any messages from my spouse, just in case he wants to add more items to the shopping list, you thought to yourself.
Since you’re already on the phone, you started checking other apps too, scrolling on social media… and also tapped into your work inbox and slack messages to just check on them for a moment.
Sounds familiar? I can so relate. It was almost automatic to pull out the phone and start using it once I get on the public transport.
And so moments passed, and you feel your child tugging at you, calling “Mummy, mummy!”
“Hold on a sec.. mummy’s finishing this up” you said, thinking that you’d attend to her once you’re done with this email on the phone.
“Mummy, mummy!” Your hear child calling once more while trying to concentrate on drafting that email response to your boss’ email that came in this morning.
And then – silence.
You feel a little guilty because you can totally feel yourself more interested in finishing the thing on the phone than to attend to your child.
It’d be just for a while, you thought to yourself.
But for the rest of the train journey, you somehow ended up continuing to be on your phone, while your child sits silently by your side, observing her surrounding.
And you guessed it – all she sees is almost everyone looking down at their phones.
I can’t help but wonder what would train rides be like for children of this generation, if smartphones never existed.
…More conversations and learnings?
…More memories with their parents?
I believe so.
We definitely didn’t grow up having to vie for our parent’s attention from the smartphones.
And luckily, it is also within our control to bring the same experience for our children.
It’s absolutely possible to be more mindful about how and when we use our phones around our children.
I’ve done that for myself, and seen that with other parents, too.
All it takes is to make a decision, and then follow through with the right actions and strategies.
So that you’re no longer distracted when you’re with your child. And no longer feeling guilty for paying attention to the phone instead of attending to your child.
But simple doesn’t mean easy. Especially when it involves dealing with all the resistance that the brain would naturally offer (because the truth is our brain really doesn’t want us to change).
And as research on habits have shown, having an accountability partner (especially one who has done it herself) is one of the best ways to make changes faster and easier.
Here’re the results that tend to be available for my clients:
– Being fully present at dinner with loved ones everyday, without distractions of the phone
– Using the phone as a tool that is meant to value add to your life
– Being more focused and productive
– No longer anxious about missing messages or conversations in the digital world
And it doesn’t even have to take long to see results. Someone I spoke with reduced her phone usage by a whopping 50% just after a 30 minute call.