I’m embarrassed to tell you how much time, attention and mental energy something as small as 2.64 inches wide and 5.44 inches tall has taken up in my days. I’m embarrassed to tell you how much time it has occupied my hands.
As I raise two impressionable little girls, I start to notice how it’s affecting them now. I remember when my first was just a few months old, I was conscious of how my phone use could affect her but thought I still had plenty of time before she noticed to figure it out. This thinking meant I never addressed the issue until I started noticing things.
I noticed the way they wanted to bring me my phone as if I can’t be out of arm’s reach from it. How they pretended different things were phones so they could be like momma. I noticed when they used words like “Instagram”, “Text Nanzy” and from my youngest, “I want to look at pictures”.
It devastates me to see moms on their phones at the park while their kids say “Mommy, look at me! Look at me!” with no response. Not because they are awful moms, but because I know my kids experience the same thing with me too. And here’s the twist? I can’t see what’s happening to them in these moments because I’m staring at my screen.
A few months ago, I hit what I’d call a soft rock bottom. Nothing terrible happened, but the Lord made it all too clear how I was living and I knew it was time to change things. I happened to be in a gift shop a week or so later (no coincidence) and a cute book cover caught my eye. The title? “How to Break Up with Your Phone” by Catherine Price.
Between this book, and some very clear leading from the Lord, I’m finally seeing things shift.
I want to share 2 facts about phones, 3 benefits I’ve experienced and 4 practical tips that have helped me lessen my phone use. If you’d like to hear more on the Biblical/heart side, I actually wrote a 7-day devotional that you can grab here.
There are times when checking your phone out of anxiety really does leave you feeling soothed. Once that link has been established, it doesn’t matter if we’re rewarded only one time of every fifty. Thanks to dopamine, our brains remember that one time. – Catherine Price (Recognizing this helps me to realize what I’m after and that I likely won’t find it if I pick up my phone)
- There are people whose specific job is to study the psychology of how we react to things and uses it to create features so we use our phone more. This reminds me that I’m not even doing something because I want to, but because something was created to make me think I want to.
Less anxiety and frustration overall. Less news stories. Less friend of a friend of a stranger of a friend stories. And less comparison. And that less anxiety means I’m less distracted and more attentive with my girls. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read something frustrating on my phone and then responded to my girls negatively out of the reaction just because they were the next thing to get my attention.
More time to think and hear from God. I am just overwhelmed by how little space I leave for God to talk to me. I WANT Him to speak but I fill up every square inch of my day sometimes. Even the things I read from books or mentors can’t take root if I don’t give it space. I talk about this idea of process pairing and making sure I have time to digest what I consume instead of consuming more. Less time on my phone is essential to do that.
Moving forward in the things that matter. Sure, there’s good stuff that I do on my phone but the extra time I spend on my phone is, for the most part, a gigantic waste. Nowhere on my goals for 2018 is “Spend more time on my phone”. Invest in my marriage, family, and friendships? Invest in my walk with God and my health? Those make the list.
Track your time, but don’t just track your time. Let it actually sink in. Moment app (available for Apple products) lets you know what the percent of your week or day spent on your phone and even how many days or year.
Have designated phone-free times. We do the first hour when the girls wake up and the first hour after naptime or when they get home from school.
Grayscale your phone. Did you know you could remove the color from your phone? This was one of Price’s suggestions. The effect for me? It takes away the appeal of all the bright and shiny things, including notifications.
Go old school. Get a house phone or prepaid minutes phone or if you want to splurge, grab this phone next April. I have a prepaid minutes phone and shut off my iPhone in the evenings. My excuse for not just turning off my phone is wanting to be reached in case of an emergency. Literally, the only two people who’d call me for a dire emergency have this number.
Valerie Woerner is the owner of Val Marie Paper and author of Grumpy Mom Takes Holiday (coming April ‘19!). Her mission is to create practical tools, including her original 6-month prompted prayer journal and content that equip women to cut through the noise of everyday life and find fullness of life in the presence of the Lord. you’ll find her hanging out on Instagram or her blog talking about prayer, motherhood, margin and her favorite current read She’s lives in Lafayette, Louisiana with her husband Tyler and two girls, Vivi and Vana.