Oh how I struggled with this Mom Challenge. How have my text messages, emails, twitter and facebook become so embedded in my daily life? And why do I find it so hard to switch them off and focus solely on the beautiful faces of my children?
Day 29: Turn off your phone, computer or TV today when your child is with you.
To be honest, I just didn’t face up to this challenge. I tried, half-heartedly, got quickly distracted by a work email or a text message and fell off the no-screen wagon within the first hour or so of each attempt.
But this week my iphone went down, and I finally had to face the challenge of unplugged life with my kids.
Still, I kept checking for my phone like a nervous tic. I couldn’t keep tabs on my work and panicked about that all day. I couldn’t play my son clips from Rio to entertain him when we needed a distraction. I couldn’t check the weather to see if we needed raincoats and wellies. I couldn’t text my friends to see how they were doing or arrange to meet up. I couldn’t phone my husband to remind me what I was supposed to be getting from the supermarket. I couldn’t check my diary to see what on earth we were actually supposed to be doing today.
In short, I discovered how completely and absolutely I have come to rely on my mobile phone, with and without the kids. It’s my memory, my social secretary, my personal assistant, my clock, my children’s entertainer. It tells me what to wear, who to see and when to see them. It’s kind of become… a mum.
I can make excuses for my phone addiction. Yes, I’m a working mum. Yes, I need to stay in touch with people throughout the day and make the most of the rare moments when my children are otherwise distracted. Yes I go on twitter when I’m feeding my baby in the dark and is that really so much worse than reading a book…?
But I also know that I don’t need my phone (or computer) as much as I use it. And there are times when I could be more fully present with my children. I check my emails while they watch a little telly. I catch myself checking my phone as we have dinner together. I play them movie clips when I’m too knackered to come up with another game. I jump on twitter when I’m in bed feeding because sometimes it’s easier than sitting there with my thoughts.
This challenge showed me I should try to use my phone less. But I’m not a big fan of ‘shoulds’ right now. There lies yet another source of guilt and self-criticism. I’m on my phone probably half an hour more than I ‘should’ be each day. Alongside that, I really am doing my best to be a good mum - to juggle the needs of my kids, my work, my marriage, time with friends and story of mum. And yes, right now, I need a bit of contact with my phone-mum to help me through the day.
My name’s Pippa and I’m a phone addict. Who still needs her mummy. Who isn’t ashamed to be imperfect. And who’s ringing a big “hello?” to all the other imperfect mums out there.