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.
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.