Don’t get me wrong, I love my smart phone as much as the next person. It’s particularly great for taking photo’s as you don’t have to carry a bulky camera around, checking Facebook, reading the newspaper and all of the things that we all love to do on them. Or at least I love to (some of you probably aren’t so keen on the newspaper thing). Plus there’s the added bonus of it actually being a phone too, bet you forgot that right…;-)?
Every Monday I have been fortunate enough to spend the day with our two year old son. We normally go down to a local park on the edge of Moreton Bay in the north of Brisbane. It is a beautiful spot and a great playground, he has ball. As I’ve already mentioned I like taking photo’s particularly of my kids and this location is great for that. Subsequently I spend most of the morning at the playground with my phone in one hand helping my son negotiate steps, swings and slippery slides.
For some reason on one particular day I decided that I needed to keep my phone in my pocket and give all my attention to my son. I’d noticed recently that I had my phone out “a lot” during the time I was spending with my kids. Now this is not meant to be preachy and make people feel guilty about having their phones out, but I’ll just tell you what I noticed.
I enjoyed myself more
As soon as I’d made the decision to leave my phone in my pocket and away from view I noticed that I was enjoying myself more, just watching my son play. Seeing his level of joy from playing and running around, noticing more about how was interacting with other children. Hearing all the new words he was saying. In general I just relaxed a lot more and enjoyed it.
Being in the moment and not distracted
Reflecting back on why I enjoyed myself more and felt more relaxed I put it down to a couple of things. It comes down to what happens to us when we are on our phones. Being connected on our phones gives us a buzz of sorts, it actually creates a chemical response our brains like a really mild drug. Checking Facebook, Instagram or whatever it is fun, that’s why we do it. The downside of it is that it takes us outside the moment we are in. We start thinking about what other people are doing and whether we like it or not we often compare our live to the lives of others online, even if most of the time it’s all smoke and mirrors. If we are looking at our diary we are thinking about what we are doing or haven’t done. We can also get into the “what am I missing out on” frame of mind that social media brings with it.
Another thing I’ve noticed about myself is that if I’m on my smart phone I’m more likely to be impatient with my kids. The selfish part of me says to my child subconsciously, “how can I edit this photo properly if you keep wanting my attention?”, or “how can I like Samantha’s post of facebook and look after you ate the same time”….etc. If we step back from it we all know this can be true true to some extent.
Being away from my phone helped me to enjoy myself more, live in the moment, and I had more patience with my child while I was with them. I have a beautiful 2 year old boy who I am lucky enough to have a whole day with. He may not remember the time I have with him when he is older, in fact it is very likely that he won’t as he is still young. But I will remember. I will remember the joy on his face when he slid down the slippery slide legs first and on his belly, when he pointed at the “green bird” and I realised he could identify colours, when we sat on the edge of the rocks watching fish swim back and forth. When my phone was in my pocket, I fell asleep to everything else that was going on in the world and woke up to the joy of watching my son play and grow. It was great.