In my post A mindful approach to using your smartphone I shared tips on how you can manage your smart phone so you are not on it as much and how you can think consciously about how you use your smartphone.
Smartphone use is tricky for many parents. Results from a short three question survey asking readers about their smartphone use showed that only 29% of respondents felt that they were being intentional with their phone use.
I would now consider that I am intentional with my phone use, but I wasn’t always. I have had a number of readers email asking how I managed to change my approach, as they have tried but haven’t quite got there with it yet.
I took the same approach with my phone as I do with all habits that I am wanting to establish or change. My approach has two key principles:
- I need to set myself up for success
- I need to have a clearly defined purpose behind the change I am making
My last post in this series gave you the strategies I use to set myself up for success, so today I will share what my clearly defined purpose was for taking a more mindful approach to my smartphone.
I wanted to take more of a mindful approach to my smartphone use so that it would improve the way I interacted with my family.
There were three key ways a more mindful approach would do this:
1. Role modelling
Teenagers and smartphones are usually stuck together, never to be parted. When the kids were or are in primary school, we have set boundaries for phone or technology use in general. Once they hit secondary school there is much greater freedom. The phones and devices are still expected (but don’t always make it) to be out of the bedrooms at night. For the 18 year old university student however, he does his own thing now.
In my five years of parenting teenagers one of the many things I have learnt is that teenagers watch what you do and take more notice of that, than what you say. I realised that I needed to role model the smartphone use that I wanted to see in the kids. So for me this looks like:
- No smartphone use in the morning, other than essential logistic based text messages or calls.
- No smartphone use after school when I am with the kids.
- No smartphone use when I am the passenger in the car – we need to chat to the driver!
- Putting the phone down when people are talking to me.
- Allowing the phone to ring or ding, ignoring it and not allowing it to interrupt real life conversations.
- No smartphone near my bed at night. I have a very old school alarm clock to wake me in the mornings now.
- No smartphones at the dinner table.
The older kids follow some of what I do but I do still wish they were on their phones less. Depending on the age, I encourage or enforce it, but I have learnt to let go of the nagging and hope they will naturally start to take a more mindful approach, like the one I am role modelling. This is very wishful thinking, but I still want to make sure that I am not being a hypocrite and am role modelling what I would like them to do.
2. More time with the kids
I have post on the blog which outlines a simple way I manage one on one time with the kids (the younger ones mainly now) – 20 minute blocks of time with the kids. When I wan’t being mindful of my smartphone use, I would rarely get time during the week to do a 20 minute block with the kids. However when I looked at the amount of time I had been spending on my phone, a quick check of email here, a quick look at Facebook there and a very quick scroll through Instagram, I realised I was wasting time on my phone that I could have been spending with my kids.
In the mornings now, depending on how early the youngest two are up, we will easily find time to play a game of 21 or start a game of Monopoly, that we then continue playing each morning until we finish. This is such a better start to the day for the kids and for me, rather than me having my head down staring at my phone.
3. An improved mindset
A few years ago, I took a break from my smartphone when I was on holidays, only using it as a phone! I was also taking time off work as I was on holidays. After feeling a little twitchy for the first couple of days, I then started to feel so much happier without it! I didn’t feel bombarded with incoming messages, I wasn’t worried about what amazing stories I was potentially missing out on and I didn’t have the jittery feeling that I would often get after I had been on my phone for too long.
My mind felt clearer and I felt happier. I wasn’t as distracted with the kids. Sometimes when I had been on the phone, checking emails or social media, I would put the phone down, but attention was still partly with what ever it was I had read or seen when I had been on the phone. My interactions with the kids suffered because I wasn’t being fully present with them. Spending less time on my phone has allowed me to be more present with my family.
So if you have been struggling to take a more mindful approach to your smartphone, write down three reasons why you want to become more mindful. Knowing why you want to change your habit can help keep you focus and allow you to feel that you are working towards gaining something, not losing something.
Dinner Ticket Sales End Wednesday 13th September 11.30pm
I will be sharing more about my journey in becoming planned and present at my dinner on Thursday night. You have most likely have read about the dinner in previous newsletters and there are still a few tickets left if you would like to join us!
I have created a practical short booklet for you to work on and take home, to help you on your journey too!
The dinner is to be held on Thursday 14th September, 7.30p – 9.30pm at the gorgeous Serotonin Eatery in Burnley.
Click here if you would like some more info or want to see examples of the amazing food and drinks that will be served.
Or click here to nab your ticket straight away. Tickets are on sale until 11.30pm Wednesday 13th September.