Your handheld technology is an every day tool that helps you engage with friends, work and connect with the rest of the world. Your smartphone is used so often that it feels like an extension of your body. However, when you’re a mom, it is important that your attention isn’t consumed by your technology. While in the presence of your kids, you must make sure that you don’t rely too heavily on your tech devices for entertainment, work projects or communication. Your kids need your attention, as it is an opportunity for them to engage with their number one role model. Here are some tips for how you can steer away from the never-ending distractions of technology and focus more on your children:
Take a look at your daily schedule and assess when you can take breaks from all of your devices. These tech-free time frames will allow you and your family uninterrupted face-to-face interaction. Rather than only having half of your attention focused on one another, you can engage in meaningful conversation or bond through a group activity. This sounds easy enough, but you must keep in mind that notifications on your phone won’t desist during these family times. You may receive emails from the school, text messages from friends or social media updates that will pull your attention away from your family. It is best that you put your phone away in a drawer or your bag while you’re on your tech break. Waiting an hour to respond to an email or text isn’t a big deal. Instead, your availability and attention should be dedicated to your kids during the time you spend together. Put up a family calendar where you can mark your tech-free time periods so everyone in the house can see.
Develop good habits that help you balance your interactions with your tech and your kids. Before you engage on your phone while with your child, let them know why your attention will be shortly drawn away from them. It is important they have an expectation that you will be engaged in a quick task, rather than feeling ignored. However, if you are constantly diverting your attention from them to your phone, they will feel like they aren’t as deserving of acknowledgement and interaction. If your child seems to need your attention while you’re on your phone, you should give it to them. You don’t have to completely shift gears, but at least provide acknowledgement such as, “I would love to give you my full attention in a moment. I have to finish this one task and then I can focus on you.” This will let your kid know that you care and also teach them how they can exercise patience and expectation management.
Choose phones that offer settings allowing you to not be constantly interrupted during your time with your family. Your phone should be able to let you receive texts and updates silently, with a small vibration alert. If you have your phone volume on high for notifications and calls, the sound will be a terrible distraction. You can also arrange how you’d like to visually see your notifications. They can be a small banner that pops up then disappears, versus a list of trivial updates that will crowd your phone screen and pull your interest. The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge allows you to designate notifications to the edge of the phone to decrease distractions. It also has a specific Do Not Disturb setting that will let you program which notifications can come through and which ones to silence. This customizable option is more nuanced that muting your phone and is a great tool for staying in the moment with your kids, without missing out on any important calls or messages.