Five Simple Steps for Choosing Your Kids over Your Phone

five simple steps for choosing your kids over your phone

I still remember the moment we decided to cancel our Sprint contracts and buy iPhones. It was one of those random moments when I mentioned to Josh that if he was willing to sell his massive CD collection, we could probably score enough cash to pay our termination fees of $400.

He leaped at the chance, boxed up his beloved CD’s, and drove straight to Vintage Stock. Two hours later, he returned home victorious… with a check for well over $800! His ridiculous music collection paid the termination fees AND bought our shiny new iPhone 3GS’s.

Fast forward four and a half years and I’m ashamed to say that I’m addicted to my iPhone. It is WAY cooler than I ever imagined. I do SO many things on my iPhone, including tracking my sleep patterns, tracking my weight, checking the weather, catching up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest… and not paying attention to my kids.

I know. It’s crazy, right? There are times that I get so caught up playing around on my phone that my kids have to shout my name four times before I hear them. And the craziest thing is, I know I’m not the only one. So, I decided it was high time to make a real change. I knew it had to be simple. So, here are my five simple steps to putting down your phone and getting your life back.

  1. Make a commitment to put the phone down and make it public. Tell your friends and family that you’ll no longer be available every minute of every day. Post it on Facebook that you’re going to play with your kids instead of your phone. People love to get on board for a cause. Tell your kids that you’re going to choose them instead of the phone. I guarantee they will help keep you accountable!
  2. Turn off notifications. Turn off the notifications for every app on your phone, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Paypal, and anything else that makes noise anytime someone sends you a virtual high five.
  3. Quit thinking that you’ll just ‘check email really quick’. We all know that once you get on the phone, you’re probably going to check email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and then start reading a news story on NPR. If you must stay connected, schedule planned ‘connected times’ when you have downtime from parenting.
  4. Set up custom ringtones and text tones. Every time my phone rings, I run through the house to see who’s calling. Once I set up custom tones for the people I care about most, it made a huge difference. I suddenly knew how important the call or text was based on the sound.
  5. Put the phone away somewhere out of sight. That old saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ really works. We created our very own Phone Monster to help with this! Anytime we are hanging out with the kids, Ned “eats” our phones. This removes the temptation to pick up the phone for “just a minute” because it’s so handy. Want to get your own Phone Monster?! We’ll be launching a Kickstarter campaign in May, so head over to the website and sign up for our email list to be notified when that happens.

Ned the Phone Monster put down your phone pick up your lifePlease note: This is an old post that I updated and recycled because I think the content is still relevant 🙂

Jenny (290 Posts)

Jenny Solar is the co-founder of The Happy Family Movement and Phone Monsters, Inc. She's a wife to Josh and mama to three kiddos: Max, Ava, and Lia. She's passionate about creating memorable experiences for her family and inspiring others to do the same.


13 comments
Kristen
Kristen

Oh my - I admit so much that I have this same problem! Thanks for the tips and the knock back to reality :)

Shelby
Shelby

You know its funny that I'm only seeing this post now. My husband and I are both addicted to our droid smartphones ( I counted 12 other ways I use it daily, other than it just being a phone). We decided that the only way to break the habit is to downgrade to plain old phones. Our plan will cost half as much as an added benefit! Most importantly our time and attention will be freed up to go to our most valued treasures- our boys.

John Charest
John Charest

WOW...what a great post. It's so easy today to get tugged away from some of the most important things in our lives like our family. Your kids will have a lot to be thankful as they grow to realize they're the most important things in your life and your making the decision to leave no doubt about it. Really great post!!!

Jadah {family sponge}
Jadah {family sponge}

I love this! I just need Ned's big brother to eat my laptop. I have chose not to check my Facebook status updates and that's kept me off my iPhone. I am still working on creating a set time to check my emails. And I agree out of sight is the best. One time I forgot my cel phone on a family day trip, and I was so present, available and playful when I was checking my iPhone every 2 minutes. It's liberating. I think it's so important to unplug. We are considering tossing the tv like Jen did: http://familysponge.com/parenting/tv/ We don't have cable, but DVDs can be time suckers too.

Rachel
Rachel

I love this! I have a five month old who is always swatting to knock it out of my hands as I surf while he is nursing! I've been feeling the need to be put the phone down and be more present with him. One suggestion: cut a small hole in the back and feed in your charging cord!

Hands Free Mama
Hands Free Mama

Thank you! Thank you! What a CRITICAL and life-changing message you are sharing. I know all too well the damage of distractions -- they almost cost me a relationship with my family, as well as years of priceless memories. Instead, I started a journey to live "Hands Free" ... letting go of distraction to grasp what really matters. I began creating simple tactics just like the wonderful ones you have described to let of distraction for a designated period of time each day and connect to my family. The impact was immediate and profound. I began sharing my journey to live less distracted on my blog, Hands Free Mama. The wonderful thing is that so many people are yearning for this message and WANT to connect with the people they love. I really appreciate that your tactics are not drastic ... you are not telling people to completely abandon technology. It is just not realistic. Your ideas are simple, but powerful. I applaud your message and will share it with my friends at "The Hands Free Revolution." THANK YOU!

Angela
Angela

‎"Eveen" the mobile phone eating monsta is sitting ready on our mantle... will try to share a pic so your "Ned" can have a look.

Heidi
Heidi

It's easy once you get committed... It's funny how quickly I went from having no cell phone at all to feeling like I needed my iPhone with me every minute of the day. Now I happily put it away and use it only for good old fashioned phone calls. And my kids love it!

Amy Lee
Amy Lee

This is so awesome Jenny! Awesome post and awesome plan! Isn't amazing how these tools are built to keep us connected yet it's pulling our family apart?

likely
likely

Thank you for writing this. This is big problem. A friend and I were having a discussion and I asked her, "Do you ever wonder if you would be a better parent if there was no internet?" Without hesitation she said yes. I agreed. Technology is damaging families more than it's helping.

Jennifer Miller
Jennifer Miller

Just found your site and I LOVE it! This phone post is great... so true and a wonderful reminder. Step. Away. From. The. Box. :)

Christy Johnson
Christy Johnson

Oh my gosh, how cute is Ned the iPhone Monster?! We are SO making one of those this weekend. Thanks for the awesome idea (and for the important reminder!)

brooke snow
brooke snow

Oh, this is so fabulous! I was just thinking this morning that I needed to figure out some ways to unplug more regularly! Thank you for the fun ideas!

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