5 Ways to Get Over your Phone Addiction During Family Time

There comes a point in our lives as entrepreneurs that we grow this insatiable need to always be on, to be connected and available. The problem isn’t that we are always ‘available’, it actually stems from allowing ourselves to be available. Checking our phones for a quick sec sets a terrible example for our family and those around us, especially if it’s during some inopportune moments (even to just post something on Instagram.) One more second, one minute, I need 5 minutes, 10 more minutes.... IT ADDS UP! And the people around you, like your kids, start to feel as though they are being ignored.

It’s hard to get away from it. No doubt there is always something important to tend to.  Hey, I’ve been there too. When I managed my agency, client work was always a priority, even at 11pm, or 4am. The thing is that I let it be that way. I let my team and clients feel as though they could reach me at any moment. It made sense to me then. I was, after all, trying to grow my business.

But then anxiety started to make itself a welcome home in my mind. I feared losing out on a sale if I didn’t respond to an email precisely 45 minutes after it came in, or missing Ashton Kutcher replying to my tweet (That actually happened). The worst part of it all is how annoyed and interrupted I felt when I was simply trying to finish up a quick email. Surely this makes sense in a business setting, but I am talking about having my phone/iPad out (even laptop) out while I was in the throes, and joys, of parenting.

At what point do most parents even know when they are psychologically affecting their kids? It starts as soon as they can interact with you -- when they giggle, coo, and say mama and dadda.

Face-to-face interactions are the primary way children learn” - Dr. Jenny Radesky is a pediatrician specializing in child development

So, WTF are we doing to our family? When you’re 75 and you look back on your life, are you going to be happy you answered that call or email immediately? Or will you remember the first time your baby said dadda, or when he told you about his first girlfriend? If your nose is always in your phone, you are going to be missing out on some pretty cool stuff, and also setting a very bad example.

We set screen time restrictions for our toddlers and kids but
don’t even do it for ourselves. It’s like eating McDonalds at the dinner table
while everyone else is forced to eat steamed broccoli. Selfish and unhealthy.

While there are moments or some days you simply can’t get away from your phone, perhaps you are launching or you just got some mega media coverage, you need to set some parameters around digital usage. If 9-5 doesn’t cover it at the office, then maybe 9-5pm and then again from 7-9pm does. Figure out a schedule and stick to it. If that’s not enough to commit, then I would like to offer you some ideas that has worked in our household.

  1. No-Phone Time Zone. Between 5 - 7pm, our family drops our phones in a basket and dedicates that time to family dinner. We eat at the table, screen free, every night and discuss each other's day. Often asking “what was the best part of your day” and “what did you fail at today?”, we strive to have fun conversations while we are all together and disconnected.

  2. No Phones in the Bedroom. If you use your phone for an alarm clock at home, time to get an alarm clock! Having your phone next to you while you sleep is bad behaviour. Not only does blue light interrupt your sleep patterns, having your phone easily accessible essentially urges you to check it. No good ever came from checking Facebook before bed.

  3. Get a Digital Camera. Funny, right? Nope.  If we use our phones for photo-sake, we are always inclined to check that red notification. It’s no different than taking a hit of cocaine. Social media notifications trigger a dopamine high. At this point, they should almost be illegal. Sheesh.

  4. Delete Unused Apps. Do you ever hear weird beep beep’s and ding ding’s? I do. For me it’s from the Houzz app (I knoowwwww. Crack, right?) But those, wait for it, notifications get our attention, and it stays there until we actually check it. Do we really need all that clutter on our phones and noises in our homes?  Not one single bit. Delete or turn that crap off now pease.

  5. Setting an Example. When it’s all said and done, how we conduct ourselves at home in front of our kids, or at the office in front of our employee’s, sets an example. If you’re always on your phone and your kids are nagging you for their iPad and you say no, they’ll resent you and likely do some crazy sh*t to get your attention.  Your employees will think they aren’t being heard. Your partner will think she/he is not being seen.  

Decide, at what point is your phone usage really, truly, absolutely, so important that you risk offending, hurting, or ignoring someone important to you? Set your own boundaries then ask that your family and/or team do the same. And if you’re stuck in a pickle in trying to find the answer to something ... get Alexa. Or better yet, guess. Woohoo!