What Your iPhone is Doing To Your Kids
I’ve been trying this new thing at home.
Paying attention to my daughter.
It’s a fabulous experiment in tantrum avoidance. And it’s working.
Lately, I’ve been trying to put down the phone and the computer when she’s awake. Play on the floor with her. Pretend like puzzles and doll houses are my favorite activity. (Newsflash: they are not.) Read together under a blanket on the couch. Have tickle fights. Involve her in laundry and cooking. Take her to the park or on a trip to someplace new. Invite friends over to play with.
Basically, live life with Emily, instead of just right next to her.
And this magical thing is happening.
The tantrums are lessening. The sweetness is overflowing. I cannot even handle the love and the joy that infiltrate our every day.
That’s not to say, of course, that I have a perfect two-year-old. Ha. Do those exist? I think not.
But I am seeing that my child understands the difference between playing with me and playing next to me. She desires my attention and my interaction.
As she should.
This is our daily crazy. Do not be fooled.
My friend, Beth, has a super clean house and a fridge that is completely devoid of clutter. But the one thing she has deemed important enough to attach to the outside of her fridge is a little piece of paper torn off a notepad that says something like,
Let the task wait, not the child.” (<–tweet this!)
Our kids are so smart. They know when they are being overlooked. They know when we are choosing Facebook over them, even if they don’t know what Facebook is.
(Facebook is not even a “task”, by the way. Yes, that’s a hard pill for me to swallow too.)
It matters how we use our time. Especially the time when we think they aren’t watching.
They are watching. And our actions speak volumes about what we value.
I’m not saying that we need to be giving our kids our attention every second of the day. A momma’s gotta pee in peace, you know. And I don’t plan to raise children who think they are the center of the universe, either.
I am saying, though, that our own constant need to be connected is slowly killing our connection with our children. Instead of looking into their eyes and doing life with them, we’re walking around with our eyes glued to a screen that cannot give the life we are looking for.
I can step away from the things that can wait. I can invest fully in quality moments with my daughter. I can show her through my actions that she is completely loved and valued.
Our kiddos, they know the difference between being trained and being ignored. And in these little years, when our babies and toddlers and preschoolers are forming attachments and developing their own identities, our time, our voices, and our presence are absolutely vital.
(And I’d guess that the moms of teens out there would say that their teenagers need them even more.)
Let’s remember what it’s like to LIVE again. To take a walk outside and explore. To involve your kids in the chores and the laundry and the cleaning. To READ BOOKS and cultivate a love of learning. To have a conversation out loud. Let’s do this life together, and not just side by side.
I think then, we’ll stand a chance of growing the close, strong, grounded families that we really want.
So put the phone down. Our kids need to know that they are worth more than a status update. That they are deserving of our time and attention. That they are loved, not only by us, but by the God who is never distracted and always available.
Recommended reads on this topic:
- The iPhone is Ruining Your Summer – Jessica Smartt
- The Children Have Spoken – Rachel Macy Stafford
- How To Miss a Childhood – Rachel Macy Stafford
Do you struggle with putting down your phone when you’re around your kids? What boundaries do you have in place?
Kayse is a wife, mom, and founder of the Anchored Women community. She writes to help women fight busy, find rest, and build a life that’s anchored in Christ. Kayse is also the creator of the S.O.S. Planner, the Anchored Life Kit, and other practical resources that equip women to manage their homes and families in confidence. You can find her writing and her resources at anchored-women.com!
I’m super late to the party but this same thing applies to spouses! I love the points you make. I am very guilty of the facebook time when DH is around. We both need to work on reducing our screen time. Such a great post!
My girls are older now. But the struggle isn’t different, there is just as added fear that I am teaching them bad behavior too. I set aside an hour in the afternoons, after school (we homeschool) to write and blog. I give myself 5-10 minutes, twice a day to check social media. And I spend less than an hour (varies by day) in the morning, before the kids get up editing and posting. I just adopted these boundaries after taking a 3 week hiatus from social media and blogging in December. The freedom and time the hiatus gave me was life givining. And always (almost) , even if a post doesn’t get posted, I spend time with God first thing.
So wise! And here I am blogging after dinner. At least we spent most of the day playing and there’s always nap time. 🙂 I do try to not do anything online until after lunch and I love my “dumb phone”. lol
This was so good! Thank you for sharing your heart!
Oh, I had to be weaned from my phone and computer quite early since baby #2 came when baby #1 was 15 months old!
It’s taken a while to work out a functioning schedule for my new raise-my-kids job, but here’s what works for us so far:
I don’t “play” on my computer or phone when the kids are awake. This means no games, Facebook, reading, etc. Playing on my phone or computer can really really pull me in, and I can very easily ignore my kids then. If I do need to use my computer or phone (text my husband, send an important email, pay a bill, etc), I tell my toddler that I will help him/read to him/etc in just a moment when I am finished typing. I make sure that I finish quickly, and he has learned that since I mean what I say, if he is patient for a toddler-sized moment, he will get what he needs. I do the same thing when I’m cooking (and have my hands covered in raw meat – ug): I usually say something like “My hands are busy right now, but if you wait patiently for one moment, I can help you. Howabout you play with your sister until I’m done?” It’s only occasionally that he does not like this response and throws a fit. Usually those times, he’s hungry or tired, and so I can totally empathize with him.
Both of my kids play very very very well by themselves, but since I’m usually just a few feet away getting my “chores” done, they know just where to find me when they want my attention.
And by the way, since I do all the chores right now while the kids are awake and happy, my toddler LOVES to sweep, dust, and unload the utensils from the dishwasher. It’s SO important to involve them in house-hold to-dos and give them opportunity to feel a sense of accomplishment.
And on the worst days, when I just can’t fathom doing anything productive, I make myself physically available to my kids, because I know on my worst days I can be crabby and moody and mentally distracted. I take my phone or book and lay on the floor where they are playing, and they inevitably give me hugs and toys and so much baby love that I end up feeling better.
I’m so happy that you get to be “just” a mommy during the day right now, instead of a mommy who-is-trying to-work-all-day-while-mommying! 🙂
PS. It’s nap time over here, and I make sure I take care of myself before “playing” (like these comments!): I eat and get dressed if I haven’t already! 😉
Phone’s not a problem but it is about time I paid my kids more attention and stopped getting sidetracked by my laptop. I think they will pick up really bad facebook/ twitter habits from me when they are older if I am not careful. I shall start putting it away when they are home from school. You’ve given me the push I needed – found you on A Wise Woman blog hop. Thank you.
Laptop is my biggest issue too. I never thought about them picking up the habits though – such a good point and great motivation!!
Kayse, very well said! I have realized this does not lessen as our kids get older, mine are 15 & 12. I think it might even take more deliberate action – for me it has. When they were little, it was obvious to me time & my presence was what they needed most. As they got older, I thought they needed me less. I was wrong. Even though we home school and they are with me every day – they NEED me to be present with them, even as a teen & tween.
This was be of my New Years resolutions.
I resolve to be less distracted. I will only check my email once in the morning. I will not check Facebook or use my iPad unless the girls are asleep. I will try to save phone calls for when they are occupied.
Thank you for the reminder.
Those are fantastic resolutions. I want to follow in your footsteps!
I am so honored to be mentioned in this beautifully written, powerful post. You have discovered exactly what I discovered when I began my journey to let go of distraction for certain periods of the day to connect to my loved ones. I had forgotten how soothing and healing it was to watch their sweet faces and listen to their silly, tender words. And like you said, their behavior dramatically improved so there were more opportunities for enjoying our time together. Suddenly my devices weren’t so important, and I yearned to keep connecting to what really mattered. Thank you for helping to spread this important message!
Rachel, your blog is so inspiring!! Thank you for speaking these words first. You are such an encouragement to me, and I’m glad you enjoyed this post!
So true. So good. Thanks for encouraging us to be better and more attentive mothers!
I’m so glad it mattered to you. It’s something I need to keep working on!!
Yes! I totally struggle with this! I think the worst is the phone. I hate talking on the phone and will mostly just ignore the calls.
I hate talking on the phone too (introvert city, hello!), so I text. But that is still on the phone…
Oh dang, how convicting. With our move, exhaustion from first trimester, and a schedule a little heavy in my ministry tasks … it’s been far too easy to just live beside my baby boy instead of with him. This was a wonderful reminder. Thank you for sharing, Kayse!
sorry! I left it twice & can’t figure out how to get it back to just one!! OOPS!
I recently did a post about this, too! http://yourmodernfamily.com/moms-and-technology-now-vs-then/
I asked Moms how much time they spend online & put their answers in my post. 🙂
I love this! I recently did a post on something similar to this, too. I took a poll asking Moms how much time they spend online: http://yourmodernfamily.com/moms-and-technology-now-vs-then/
Have a great day! 🙂
Oooh, heading over to check out your post now!
I don’t struggle as much with my phone and the computer, but I do do the same thing with cleaning and organizing in the house…being with them or right next to them, but busy doing house work instead of being WITH them, and not next to them. Great reminder for me today…
That is such a good point. It doesn’t really matter WHAT the “other things” are, the idea is that if it’s not our kids, they know it. Thank you for that!
This is one reason I finally decided to put Little Man in prek/moms day out 2 days a week. It allows me to get work done and fully focus on him when I am home. It has been an amazing blessing for both of us. Of course he loves the added bonus of playing with friends at school.
That seems so wise, Lisa! That’s one reason why I love my Fridays in January – my wonderful mother-in-law has been coming up to watch Emmy so I can write. I come home so much more refreshed and ready to be all there!
Kayse – I love learning from you! Thank you for the reminder to PREVENT tantrums by living WITH my kids. And that our goal as parents isn’t prevention, but rather to be intentional with our kids. Not just involved, but intentional; teaching God’s truth, grace and love to them. I’m reading Mitten Strings for God right now…you should add it to your book list. 🙂 It’s a peaceful, easy read. P.S…you should see my house right now.
You’re allowed to have a messy house, you have a sick kid! Also, your messy is my clean, so…
I try to stay away from the laptop when the kids are around. I *try* to get what I want/need to get done while they are at school or napping. I have a 5-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy. Sometimes they’re engaging themselves, nicely, playing together, so I’ll work on something. But it’s been on my heart to focus on them when they’re here/awake. I’m better at closing the laptop than I am my phone, although I should work on the latter as well.
That’s what I’m trying to do too, although I’m better at putting away the phone than the computer. But we only have so much time with them, right? Everything else will always be here.
This is soooooo important!! I learned this when my children were little as the internet came into being and chatting (yes, it was around way back then) and when I moderated a homeschool internet board (yes, back 12 years ago). The phone was an intrusion enough….an option I hardly use anymore other than to text. You are doing the right thing and you will never regret it!!
It’s actually so fulfilling to engage in that face time too! More fulfilling than blowing through my hulu queue, that’s for sure. And yet, the computer still pulls at me. It’s an ongoing battle!
Very valuable lesson! Its a great quality to teach your children and one that carries over into other areas of their lives. I had a boss once who, regardless of whatever she was doing, would give you her full and undivided attention any time you walked into her office. She took her hands off the keyboard and turned her chair to face you when you walked in. I always thought that was so amazing, that she really wanted to hear what I had to say over anything else. Our kids will feel the same thing from us, if we do this for them.
I love that. We care that we are paid attention to, so shouldn’t we extend that to our children? I am never great at this, but I’m trying to get better.
Right On! That is exactly what needs to happen. KIds don’t always do what we say, but they often do what we do~way to model great behavior and show her the love that you feel. I had to chuckle when you said you read under a blanket…that is our 2-year-olds favorite activity~”hiding” under a blanket…with as many people as will fit under there. 🙂
Keep up the God work.
Yes, she is totally into hiding right now! So funny. 🙂
This is something I am constantly working on! It’s amazing what a difference it makes, isn’t it?
Me too, Jenni, me too!