Ditch Parenting Distractions

Obsessive photo taking, social media surfing and email checking are just a few of the technology traps that can distract from truly parenting in the moment.

Life happens… even when we don’t have pictures of it

One of the biggest pitfalls of parenting is the desire to document everything. For generations, parents have flocked to everything from recitals to graduations armed with cameras to preserve life’s important moments in video and print. Smartphones have taken this to a whole new level and social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are primed for an instant snap-and-share frenzy.

While technology has made it easier than ever to capture every second of your child’s life, it can also rob you of opportunities to genuinely experience those moments. It’s too easy to spend an entire birthday party or family event with a camera in front of your face instead of having your arms around your kids.

Try this: Hire a photographer, or designate a family member or friend to take pictures so you can spend time truly being present. For the everyday moments that can fill up your Instagram feed, if your child is doing something so incredibly cute that you just can’t resist, make a deal with yourself that you’ll snap a photo or two then put your phone out of arm’s reach.

No phone zones

One of the easiest ways to cut down on distractions and parent in the moment is to ditch cell phones altogether during family time. When your smartphone is nearby, it’s tempting to flip through Twitter, or check what’s been happening on Pinterest since the last time you looked. If your phone is out of sight, it’s a lot easier to skip the habitual web surfing and give your family your full attention.

"Declare no phone zones."

Try this: Declare no phone zones (like the dinner table or the family room), where cell phones aren’t allowed. Make sure you set the example by following the rule. It's tempting to check your phone for just one last thing, but odds are it won't be worth opening the floodgates.

Set work/life boundaries

If you work from home or have a flexible schedule, the line between work and life often blurs. One of the biggest culprits that can distract from family time, unless you set boundaries, is the email trap. You innocently check one new message on your phone and next thing you know, you’re knee deep in something work related.

Try this: If it’s outside of your regular business hours, ask yourself: Does this absolutely need to get done right now? With the instant gratification that technology offers, it's easy to feel pressured to reply immediately to after-hours emails, or feel obligated to check messages on the spot just because you can. If it’s not absolutely critical to tackle that task right then, save it for a time when your kids are in bed, or first thing in the morning before they wake up. Checking and responding to work requests after hours might seem like 10 or 15 minutes here and there, but just think of how many stories you can read, tickle fests you could be part of and memories you can make instead.

Read more about balance

5 Tips to find work-life balance
My vow to live in the moment
The secret is revealed... less is more

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Comments

Comments on "Parenting in the moment"

Yolanda October 27, 2012 | 1:09 PM

We have recently adopted a no-tech weekends which for me, means no working on weekends unless really necessary (or I'm alone like now, haha). Technology is great but everything in moderation right? :)

Kristin Wheeler October 26, 2012 | 6:32 PM

It's so hard to put the technology down but definitely necessary (and more healthy)!

Kendra October 26, 2012 | 10:29 AM

Great tips! I think it's so important to be in the moment with your kids. I work from home and am ALWAYS on the computer, but I make sure to have at least an hour in the evening technology-free. My kids and I laugh, watch TV, and just talk. It's very nice and it gives me a much needed break!

Jesica H October 26, 2012 | 10:11 AM

You are so right, I do want to document everything and then the times I am just "there" with my kids I feel bad that I didn't catch it on camera, lol. But at least they had that time with ME. :-)

Laurel October 23, 2012 | 12:32 PM

At big events, I think it is such a great idea to hire a photographer or designate someone to be the photographer! It is so tempting to want to document everything, but then you miss it all! This way you still get the photos, and you get to enjoy all of your hard work and special moments.

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