My Time is Now – Being Present
Recently, I’ve been really conscious of how much time I spend on my phone, and how much time I spend watching life on a little screen rather than actually just enjoying it…
Chances are, I’m not even doing anything. I pick it up, and I scroll mindlessly through Twitter. Then I’ll open Instagram. Then I’ll reopen Twitter. And for what? I’ve not actually done anything or learnt anything! I know I’m not the only person who realises that they’ve lost hours of their day and achieved nothing except a low phone battery and excessive data use.
Someone posted a photo of article from Grazia on Twitter the other day (see, I do occasionally learn something from Twitter!) about how parents need a digital detox and I couldn’t agree more. I’ll realise I’m ‘liking’ a photo of someone else’s kid playing, while my son, my real, exciteable, energetic son who is physically stood in front of me, wants me to play cars with him.
The other day, Dougie wanted to play with his trains, and roll them to me. I played this for a few minutes, and then out of habit, reached over to check my phone while the trains were on Dougie’s side of the room. He started saying “Mama? Mama? Mama?” at me, he could tell I wasn’t paying attention, and when I looked up, he had given up, and was pushing the trains back and forth to himself. I felt absolutely awful. I went and put my phone in the bedroom and spent the rest of the afternoon running around with Dougie, building bridges for his trains (this was definitely more a game for me, he just wanted to destroy them) and he helped me make dinner. He was in such a gorgeous, playful mood, and I had such a good afternoon with him. When I checked my phone once he was in bed, I’d missed…nothing.
I made a decision there and then that, especially when it comes to Dougie, I want to be present. I want to be catching every second with him and I don’t want to look back and realise I’ve missed things about him because I’ve been too absorbed in how many likes my latest Instagram post has, or who’s RT’d something controversial on Twitter. He gets frustrated when I’m on my phone, and I hate that – I know that when I’m trying to have a conversation with someone and they have one eye on their phone, I get irritated, so why should it be any different with Dougie and I?!
Where I can, I’ve been leaving my phone at home. It’s not always possible if I’m coming from work to collect Dougie from nursery, but in that case I’ll leave it in my bag, or switch it off. I quickly realised that the only things I genuinely used my phone for were taking photos and checking the time (and luckily I have my gorgeous Freerunner – Petite Berries ADEXE watch* for that) – everything else was just habit or boredom. This last week, we’ve gone to watch the trains at the stations near us, we’ve left the buggy in the car and walked to the park and we’ve spent a lot of time on the swings in the playground. Dougie was much happier, and I realised that in was (at least in part) due to the fact that he wasn’t being ignored while I stared down at a glowing screen. Any parent will know that while having a child is a wonderful, amazing thing, there are frustrating moments, and times when you need a break from reading The Hungry Caterpillar for the twelfth time, but I’m trying to make it so that that break doesn’t involve me ignoring Dougie while I check to see who has uploaded a new photo to Instagram.
I work from home a lot, and so sometimes I do have to check my emails or make a call, but I’m going to schedule time to do that, rather that having my phone glued to my hand. Dougie goes to bed around 7pm, I have plenty of time in the evenings to catch up on social media and blogs.
Sam and I took Dougie to Richmond Park the other day. We took a camera and left our phones, and it was such a lovely way to spend a few hours. We played hide and seek, watched squirrels, raced around, saw so many deer (Dougie was very uncertain about this) and I read my book in the car on the way home rather than mindlessly scrolling. Days like this are the kind of days I want to have every day. I want Dougie to remember things like this, rather than seeing Sam and I constantly on our phones.
This mini digital detox has really reiterated to me the importance of living in the moment and just being present. It was more challenging that I expected it to be, but I don’t want to look back and realise I missed something Dougie was doing because I was replying to comments on Instagram!
I’m definitely going to continue leaving my phone when I’m with Dougie, it makes such a difference to both of our moods and it definitely improves the quality of the time we spend together.
I’d really love to hear what you think about this! Do you think you need to put your phone down sometimes?
*ADEXE kindly gifted me this watch, but all opinions are my own