Any time you see me, I most likely have my cellphone in hand and a kid (or two) on my hip.
I am one of those people that is too plugged in. My husband and I both work full time. We have two small children. We share an Outlook calendar that says who will be where, when, with who and for how long. I like to think of it as organized chaos.
I have been saying for three and a half years that I need to unplug and live in the moment with my kids.
But sadly, each time I put my phone down to unplug, I have it back in hand within an hour or less. I’ll just check and see if I got that work email I’ve been waiting on.
That turns into paying a bill, adding an item to my electronic to-do list, perusing Facebook and checking the weather for tomorrow. I know, it’s sad. But we all do it! We might not admit it, but we do.
My husband and I went to Hilton Head for vacation a few weeks ago with our 3 year-old, 3 month-old, my in-laws, brother and sister-in-law and 4 year-old niece. We stayed in an absolutely beautiful house on the beach.
I decided there was no better time to actually put my phone down than when I’m staying in a gorgeous house beachside with all my favorite people.
So I set a goal. I will unplug for this vacation—all 7 days. And I will give my family (and myself) my undivided attention.
I did it. I left my phone in the bedroom upstairs. I only got it out at night before I fell asleep to make sure I didn’t miss any important emails, then it was back on the night stand.
Here’s what I learned.
1. My phone has become almost like a body part to me.
The first day, I felt a little naked. I kept reaching for my phone. Wondering where it went. Then I remembered I was unplugging. I didn’t have to check my weather app. I could walk outside. I didn’t need to check my email 15 times a day.
2. I spent more quality time with my 3-year-old.
He has been a bit anti-mama lately because I have to spend so much time taking care of his new baby brother. I knew that he really needed some special attention from me. So we boogie boarded in the surf, built sand castles, played tag, looked for shells and splashed in the pool. The constant grin on his face and hearing him laugh and giggle made me realize that these are the moment’s people talk about. This is where the best memories are made.
3. My toddler is still my baby.
One night he crawled up in my lap, gave me a kiss and said, “I love you Mama.” My freaking mom heart melted. I needed that time with him and he needed it with me. No distractions. Just me showing him that he hasn’t been replaced by his baby brother. He is the baby that made me a mommy. And even though he is a big brother, he is still a baby himself with chubby cheeks and that awkward run.
4. My newborn is growing so fast.
I would spend the early mornings with Simon. He has already grown so much and I just feel like I don’t get enough time to soak in his snuggles. So I would sit on the back porch of the house and feed him his bottles.
I would listen to him sucking on the bottle with such content and everything just seemed right with the world. He would look into my eyes when I was feeding him and smile at me. After his bottle, I would tell him that he is a precious little miracle and all I want is for him to be happy. He would coo and smile back in agreement.
5. I didn’t get many pictures.
No phone equals no pictures. But the pictures I got from my family were enough. I honestly looked happy and relaxed. And I made so many amazing memories with my kids. I will never forget that vacation and I vow to put my phone down more from here on out.
Being present is hard on a day to day to basis. But I have learned it’s not impossible.
Unplugging for seven days taught me that we have to show our kids they are more important than our phones.
They need our full attention.
Work can wait. Emails can wait. Facebook can wait. But my babies can’t. One day they will be all grown up and I want them to remember their mama as someone that gave her undivided attention to them, not acted like she was listening to their story while typing an email on her phone.
I encourage you to try this. Put the phone down. Maybe just for an hour or so. But do it. You will be amazed how much more you notice when you get rid of your biggest distraction.