“I gotta potty.”
“Mommy, I gotta potty,” said the adorable tot in the Minnesota Twins t-shirt looking up expectantly.
But mom was clearly lost in the iPhone zone. She was too busy texting to hear her little girl and didn’t see her start to dance around on the grass.
“Potty, potty, potty,” she prattled on. Still no reaction from her distracted mom.
I watched this scene last week when we attended a spring training baseball game. I so badly wanted to redirect the mom, but didn’t feel like it was my place. I could see the potential for potty disaster, but again, didn’t want to overstep. So we walked away with me thinking how grateful I am that we didn’t have these same tech distractions when our girls were younger.
Please understand I’m not trashing this young mom. Not a bit. Parenting is hard. Really hard. It’s challenging enough without being “on call” 24/7 to all of our social media devices and vices. I know I personally would have struggled to find balance between Pinterest and play time if it existed when our girls were younger.
As parents, we worry a lot about our kids and technology use, especially when the kids are young and developing habits. Why not start by modeling a healthy balance of personal and virtual connection with others? Why not show them they are more important than the latest Facebook post? Or that it is okay to simply not check our phones when we’re at the park?
Today, our girls are all grown up. Those days of toddlerhood and incessantly asking “why?” are in the past, but definitely not forgotten. I now have more me time, but still find technology can be a distraction. It has the power to suck time like nothing else can!
For example, a few weeks ago I had an evening to myself. I’d dubbed it “spa night” as I had plans to take a leisurely bubble bath that included a face mask, wine, and scented candles. It had been a stressful week of writer’s block and book deadlines. My mind, body and spirit were craving some down time. I wanted that time. I may have even needed that time. And I was all set to enjoy it—my lit candles were spreading a warm glow over the bathroom, my new BFF Alexa was playing a soothing spa playlist, my array of bath and beauty products were lined up along the edge of the tub like water ballet performers ready to dive in to the warm, blissful water—when suddenly I remembered an email I’d forgotten to send during the day.
It was work-related and not something I could let wait until morning. So, of course, I turned off the faucet and went downstairs to my office and my trusty laptop.
After I sent the email, I noticed three more that needed tending to—one with a link to an event I was planning to attend, which took me to Eventbrite to register. Then my little notification bar lit up because someone sent me a text. The text was sweet and funny and from a dear friend, so I responded. We texted back and forth for a few minutes before I popped over to Facebook, purely out of habit.
You know what happened next. Before I knew it an hour was gone. And that was not how I meant to spend it. I let myself get sucked in to the social media vortex. Can you relate? My relaxing and revitalizing spa night was cut short to a quick rinse before bed, in lukewarm water.
Since that spa night that didn’t happen, I’ve been thinking a lot about making more deliberate technology choices. It comes back to priorities and presence. And choice. Even in this season of my life, I have to choose to be present instead of allowing myself to be pulled into the zone.
I’ve set some personal boundaries that are already making a difference in my relationship with technology (and people):
- No phone at the dinner table
- No checking email right before bed
- Time block 30 minutes for social media into my work day instead of checking it frequently throughout the day
- Turn off FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn bells and whistles (notifications) on my phone
- Put my phone away when having a conversation with other people (inspired by THIS VIDEO)
- Permission to simply shut my phone off—guilt-free—for an extended period of time
I’ve found if you spend a bit of time honestly evaluating when and how you use technology—and who your tech time affects—you’ll use your tech more wisely.
What can you do today to be less distracted and more present?