What I am about to tell you is not new, but I do feel like it’s become a dangerous normality. I am emotionally and physically connected to my phone. It’s a muse I have felt validated in defending.
“It makes me feel less alone, especially during this pandemic.”
“I know what’s going on around me.”
“There are important things I’ve learned on social media that I would not have known otherwise.”
Although these things may be true, my phone has a hold on me. It’s severe. Raising two young kids during a pandemic, especially as a mostly stay-at-home mom, has driven me to my phone way more than I like. When I am frustrated, sad, bored, irritated or whatever difficult emotion, I grab my phone for a bit of solace or to zone out. I get roped in and scroll for embarrassing amounts of time. Today alone, my screen time is 7 hours and 27 minutes.
My phone rarely solves anything, as, like most drugs, more and more is needed to appease.
I’ve caught myself getting frustrated when my kids interrupt me. I make excuses, I sneak moments to use it in peace. This description definitely sounds like an addiction. At the beginning of the year, I had made a resolution to use my phone less. I read books about phone use and addiction. I made plans and feeble, short-term attempts at curbing my habits. Unfortunately, I failed at decreasing my phone use, especially when I began a business that required me to check my phone and the pandemic set in.
So, what’s a mom to do? My hope is not to shame anyone, or myself for phone use. At this point, I know I need (and want) to scale back. Here is my plan for the next month. Hopefully, I’ll follow up with a post, and you are welcome to share any tips or tricks that you have.
1. Recognize when I want to look at my phone. Am I anxious? Bored? Overwhelmed? All of the above?
2. What do those feelings feel like in my body? Am I tense? Are my legs restless? Is my breath shallow, and are my shoulders tense or relaxed?
3. Choose an alternate activity that does not involve using my phone.
4. Designate times of the day or limits on how long I can use apps. This will take some trial and error to find out what is effective for me.
5. Incentivize myself. If I can decrease my phone use by 50%, I will get the nail polish I’ve been eying.
I’m making a list of alternate activities and placing it in a spot I will regularly see it. Some that come to mind are: taking deep breaths, making hot tea, do a quick chore, put a song on and dance with my kids, or read a book. My plan is also going to be shared with my husband.
Like any bad habit, this process will surely not be perfect. I know that some days will be easier than others. My hope though is to let anyone in a similar boat know that they are not alone. This is a difficult time, and many of us are doing what we can to get through the day when there is nowhere to go and nothing to do. However, I personally know that my phone is keeping me from being present for my family and in the moment. It’s keeping me from doing things I love and from regulating my emotions. I’m all about baby steps, so I’m willing to take my time to see results in the long run.
Stop back in a month when I plan to share how this is going for me and my family. Phone, bye.