Yesterday, the kids and I colored monster pictures.
Maggie is into patterns these days and so alternated coloring her monsters turquoise and brown. Sophia, having recently begun feeling proud of her artistic skills, worked slowly and confidently, using “lots of detail” a phrase she learned from Mrs. G, her beloved art teacher. Sean’s imagination went wild, as each monster came alive with a different theme, including “One Tooth Viking”, “Farty Waiter”, “Rainbow Elvis” and “Olympic Hairy.” I focused on eyeballs and how to incorporate different numbers, shapes and expressions. So much joy in a fresh pack of crayons.
And while we sat and created, truths came out. Sean spoke of a situation on the playground that bothered him. Sophia talked about how it felt to stand up and read in front of her entire class. Maggie reminded me (ad nauseum) about the Fruit Loops and jelly beans she’s hoping the Easter bunny brings her. All this important stuff surfaced.
Later, looking at our monster creations, I said a little prayer of thanks. Thanks that I happened to come upon a simple piece of advice that has helped me wade through something tricky.
Like many parents, I struggle with balancing technology use and being present. It’s a struggle because I know that when I look down, even for a moment, I miss out. So much can happen in a moment.
I have been on the receiving end of more painful comments from my children than I feel comfortable with. I have put myself on Facebook fasts, considered eliminating my cell phone altogether in high emotion moments. I have felt guilt and lots of it. I have longed for the days when technology wasn’t so available. My phone; this colicky newborn baby of mine that won’t give me a moment’s peace.
Beep! Check new e-mail.
Buzz! Text from friend about next week’s girls’ night.
Bling! Winter weather advisory.
Ping! Someone commented on my witty Facebook status update about the endless cycles of barf and poop in my house.
I have felt trapped by the lure of my phone.
And then, I picked up the book, Hands Free Mama. The very first chapter provided me with a tool that has changed my life as a mama.
Determine one window of time where technology interferes the most. Unplug. Go “hands free.”
My window is between 3 pm and bedtime. I’m done with work and the kids are out of school. It’s a delicate time when I do my best to balance what needs to be done with what the kids and I want to do; be together. Have a dance party. Ride scooters. Look at their newest creations.
Add the little droid newborn into the mix? It’s a recipe for disaster.
So I choose Hands Free. Each weekday afternoon, my phone lives in my bedroom, on mute, except for phone calls. I admit that the first few days left my heart beating a little faster as I experienced phone withdrawal. There are moments when I get caught up in something and the phone comes back downstairs. But soon enough, this practice will be routine and I won’t give the phone a second thought.
Without the phone, I feel peaceful. I feel like me; mommy. I look in their eyes. I hear them. I’m with them. I’m with them. I don’t feel like I am struggling to choose between doing dishes or doing puzzles. Just as Hands Free Mama author Rachel Macy Stafford experienced in her journey, I now feel less urgency to engage in chores and housework. And my house and my family’s routines aren’t any worse for the wear.
The best part of my afternoon unplugging? All of my “just a minute” moments have been easily replaced by beautiful things that I am grateful to be a part of.
Do you ever struggle with the role technology plays in your life? Lucky you, because Rachel Macy Stafford, author of Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters, is giving one of our readers a copy of the book that finally helped me find a change. Fear not! She doesn’t suggest giving technology up forever, but instead provides readers with simple and doable methods to help you “let go of distraction and connect.”a Rafflecopter giveaway