A couple of weeks ago my two year old came into the room while me and my husband were sitting there using our phones. He stood in front of us and said, “Guys, no more phones!”
That was the blatantly obvious sign that I needed to press the reset button to be more present. This isn’t something that is a surprise to me, I actually have to do this every few months or so, this is just the first time my toddler has directly called me out on it.
We have this attachment to our phones, I see it when I am out with friends, with my husband or anywhere in public. We need our phones on us, even if we aren’t using them and we panic when they are missing.
We sit with our kids as they play around us while we scroll through our newsfeeds or read an article. Sometimes it’s not our phone, sometimes it’s our iPad or laptop.
All the meanwhile, the people around us are neglected of our true presence. We “uh-huh” and “ya” the answers or ask them to repeat themselves so we can half listen again.
I don’t know about you but it drives me INSANE when I am having a conversation with someone and they are using their phone and it’s obvious that they aren’t listening to what you are saying. Which is usually indicated by their response that makes no sense within the context of the conversation.
Presence. We lack true presence. We are there, but we aren’t with others around us.
And so, about 6 months ago now, we put up a shelf in our house. This shelf is central to the kitchen and the living room. It also happens to be directly in front of you when you walk in from the garage.
And this shelf is where our cell phones are supposed to live when we they aren’t being used for something productive.
And they did, for a few good months. We stuck to it. We put them there, put our ringer on high – just so we were sure not to miss anything (yes, I’m rolling my eyes at myself) – and we let them be.
And then one day, while the kids were playing with their blocks and I was feeling a little disconnected and lonely, I brought it over and sat there with my children and scrolled through Facebook.
The habit/attachment sneaks back in that easily for me and then the withdrawal is brutal when I finally get the kick in the ass I need to put it down.
But this is the challenge I am facing once again and it starts today: to put the technology away when you are with others and be present.
After all, do we want our children to have memories of us on our phone or us talking and playing with them.
The challenge is on. Are you in?