Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Small Resolution - Big Impact

Well happy happy New Year!  How did 2014 get here so fast? It seems like the days keep going by faster and faster, as we fill our lives with an endless whirlwind of activities.  

If trends continue, this upcoming year will also fly by in a flash, and before we know it, 2015 will be here.  Are there any changes you can make today that will have an effect on the entire year?  Well of course there are the big things:  losing weight, becoming a better person, taking better care of yourself, and vowing to stay away from toxic people, to name a few.  Did you know that most resolutions by the first week of January have already fallen by the wayside for most people?  What if I told you there is a really small thing you can do on a daily basis that can have a major impact in your life?  I happen to know this, because it was my resolution from last year.  Now that 365 days have passed, I can report back to you the dramatic results. Wanna know what it was??  Well it had to do with smart phones.  

Now don't get me wrong... I love me some smart phone.  They are super handy, helpful (hello GPS), full of traffic maps, weather maps, it's a camera, it's a family calendar, it's an interactive shopping list, it's a gaming station, it's sometimes a busy mom's only connection with the outside world.  I can video chat with my step-daughter and her new baby 2750 miles away.  My future foodie-loving 6 year old can call me in to take a picture of her beautiful dinner to post on facebook...

She was right... it was quite lovely.. and tasty too
With a smart phone my middle child and I can take a selfie in the parking lot when we are celebrating an extra great school day and send it to daddy at work and family that live out of state.

I can update the Costco list for my hubby while he is driving home and he knows exactly what we need. (sweet potato fries and 2 gallons of milk please) It's genius really.

So, don't flee in terror.  I am not suggesting to chuck your smart phone into the river and hide from all technology.  I did, however, at the beginning of last year, read a very inspired blog entitled "How to miss a childhood" from Hand's Free Mama that really drove home a point.  A really big point.  (PS, If you haven't seen her post before, feel free to take a second and read it. She goes over some really powerful insights into technology and how easily it can become an  addiction/obsession)   Her overall point in that blog post is that technology has become a distraction. You can miss out on life happening right in front of you.  As I continued to read, I realized some of the things in her post I was doing.  Sometimes I was staring at my smart phone (or computer screen) more than I was interacting with the actual humans around me, both big and small.  It made me feel so guilty!  Let me tell you, if you are a mom and don't feel guilt, you are doing it wrong!  You are always wondering if you are doing enough, NOT doing enough, are you on the right track, are you completely off track.  WHAT Track??

So, feeling bad about using your smart phone is not one more thing you need to throw on the pile of mommy guilt we tend to heap upon ourselves.   I read somewhere that people tend to check their smart phone (facebook, clock, texts) about every 6 minutes.  That adds up to over 150 times a day.  That can turn into a pretty big chunk of your day, because as soon as you start looking at the interwebs, you can always easily find new and interesting things to see.  

How many times have you been at a park, bouncy house, or a soccer game and seen a line of parents only half watching the game, but mostly watching their phones?

I hate to say it, but the kids KNOW you are not paying attention.  They sense this little device in your hand is much more important than them. They know that only a certain percent is invested in them.  On the flip side, of course you don't want them to think the entire world revolves around them at the center of the universe either. It's all about balance. It's about being in the present.  This picture on pinterest cracks me up every time I see it:

But seriously, how true is it?!  We just can not get enough of these little handy devices.

After reading the blog, I wasn't looking for a massive change like unplugging from the world.  Just a small change.  Something I could easily do when it came to choosing between looking at a screen, or looking at my kids.  So I decided on that day one year ago... 

I vowed:  If I had the phone in my hand and was using it when a child approached, I would immediately put it down.

That's it.  Doesn't seem like much, right?

Every time my girls came into a room and over to me, I put the phone down.  Even turned it upside down.  I held them in my arms.  They sat on my lap and we snuggled.  I made a point to look in their eyes when they were asking me whatever question they came to talk to me about.   I tried to do it for the entire year.  They would come up, phone would go down.   Like I said, it wasn't a huge change... but it did make a big change in my heart.  Kids are only going to be little for a short time.  They are only going to want to hold your hand and sit in your lap for a few short years.  Choosing to promote human interaction over an electronic device can not only be a good example for them, but so invest good things into your child's life.  I love this sign I came across the other day.

By the way, this doesn't just work on kids.  Putting down your technology and paying attention to those around you totally works on spouses and significant others too!  So maybe challenge yourself a little this year.  My rewards this year were a lot more hugs, a lot more snuggles,  a lot more conversations that might not have happened, a lot more looking into my kids eyes and really listening to what they have to say, a lot more trust being built between us, a lot more focusing on the really important things, and a lot more participation in the things going on around me.  

Like I said, it was a small resolution but it ending up having a pretty BIG impact.  Happy 2014.  Make it a good one.

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