I am going to take a risk and assume that I am not the only parent that struggles with this.
Yes, I have a relationship with my iPhone. I sometimes experience separation anxiety while away from my computer and occasionally it gets in the way of being the kind of parent that I want to be. Attentive, not distracted. Caring, not dismissive. Valuing family time, not only my personal interests. You get the idea.
It’s not technology addiction, but you could probably call it tech obsession. For many parents, it’s not about the technology itself, but rather the social connection or the relaxation that comes from playing mindless games. Our modern lives are busy, fast and demanding. Parenting is hard work. Sometimes, you need a break to unwind and get some time to yourself. I would say that this is vitally important to maintain sanity and be an effective parent.
However, sometimes it is a problem. It can get out of hand and take too much of your time and attention away from your kids.
What can you do? (Note: I am writing this to myself, but feel free to listen in)
Set some ground rules
No phones or computers at the dinner table. This particular one has been helpful for me. It makes it much easier to focus on conversation and just enjoy a meal together. Maybe you wait until the kids are in bed or off in their rooms doing homework. Whatever the rules may be, the idea is to guard your family time and be available for your kids when they need you. Are you listening Uriah? Yes. 🙂
Ask your partner to remind you
If I am being honest, my wife and I have to remind each other to put down our phones. Ok, if I am being really honest she reminds me more often! This is about making sure that our priorities as parents are in the right order. Often depression and anxiety can be a result of making consistent choices that don’t line up with what you really value. To put it in simple terms, I don’t feel good about myself when I ignore my kids and spend too much time on Facebook.
If you are a single parent, you can come up with creative ways to remind yourself to unplug and refocus. Maybe you set a reminder on your phone or computer to let you know it is time to take a break. You could ask your kids to help keep you accountable. Whatever works for you.
Step away from the iPhone
This is what we therapists would call a behavioral intervention. Basically, it means making a decision to change your behavior and do something different. Leave all the tech at home and go on a walk to the park. Turn off the computer and play a game with your kids. I know that for me, if my phone is in my pocket I will be tempted to check my email and take a look at Facebook. It is simple, but effective to put some distance between you and your particular area of weakness.
Ok, now that this post is finished I am going to close my computer and go play some soccer with my kids!