Last month, I shared how I felt addicted to my phone. I made a small goal surrounding my screen time and named a reward to motivate myself. I also planned to be actively aware of what triggers and emotions were causing me to pick up my phone.
I have gleaned a few things in this journey, but before I go any further, I want you to know that I did not really decrease my screen time this past month. I gave myself grace and more grace.
Shame is not a good motivator to change behavior, long-term.
This was a month of learning and recognizing patterns. Once I embraced that new goal, I felt like it became easier to say “no” to my phone, instead of making an arbitrary screen time goal.
I mentioned this in the first article I wrote, but my phone makes me irritable. It disrupts me and makes me feel unnecessarily overwhelmed. For example, I’ll start unloading the dishwasher and I’ll remember that I am expecting a text from a friend. As I’m checking my phone, I get asked questions by my toddler while my infant spills a cup of water on the floor. Now, I feel overwhelmed by the chaos of my care tasks, my phone, and the needs of my children. I get snippy with my situation.
If I take a step back, I realize my phone does not need my immediate attention. I’m often swept into social media posts or unread e-mails. I realized my job is to put my phone in its lane and make sure it stays there. My children should not have to endure poor reactions on my part, due to my phone.
The next important bit I noticed is that my phone is what I reach for when I am bored. Did you know that our brain processes boredom as pain? I realized I needed to replace my phone with something else stimulating, be it meditation, exercise, or a hobby. I chose reading. Just in the past month, I’ve read five books, far beyond what I typically read. I don’t expect myself to continue at this pace (as I have accepted that I am a seasonal reader) but having something to consciously choose instead of my phone has been very helpful.
The last step I took this week was to use The Tech-Wise Family Challenge. This is a book (that I am currently reading) that encourages intentional breaks away from technology. I felt this was a practical (and exciting!) way to put technology in its place. The book recommends:
- Taking one technology-free hour a day.
- Taking one technology-free day a week.
- Taking one technology-free week a year.
Can you imagine a week away from technology? No screens, at all. I am picturing some major backpacking trips. I have intentionally left my phone in my room each morning, and just by making that decision for the first hour, I’ve been able to make more decisions about my phone throughout the day.
I am really looking forward to Sundays, which is the day I have chosen to be tech-free. I’ll be deleting or signing out of social media on those days, and only keeping my phone on for phone calls and texts, which are fairly infrequent.
As I write all of this, I am still expecting “bad” days of excessive tech-use. I am expecting imperfection. I am also predicting progress, more patient parenting, and more joyful interactions with my family. I am expecting to learn more about my plants and to check more books off of my “to-read” list. I am really hoping my kids will see and feel my undivided attention. I really hope that someday, I will have to remind myself to check my phone, instead of it always checking me.