This isn’t a new revelation. It’s something I’ve struggled with for a while but it seems to be getting worse. Or maybe I’m just noticing it more.
Screen time. Specifically, my screen time.
When Oscar was a newborn, I had a lot of hours alone. Often it was with a sleeping baby on my chest so I was limited to what I could actually do. I needed to be quiet and still so all too often, I would spend hours on my phone. Facebook, Instagram, Baby Centre dashboards, WordPress, Pinterest. I would search recipes or read parenting articles until my phone was flashing red from low battery. Hours and hours wasted. Throughout the entire newborn age, I read a total of one book. ONE! I had thought I would be burning through books with the amount of time I was stuck in a chair.
As Oscar has gotten older, I haven’t been able to shake the habit.
I do a lot with Oscar. I take him for walks, we do activities at home, we visit parks, I read to him. I jump on a broom and sing, “giddy up, giddy up, giddy up horsey” gallopping around the living room as he chases me, trying to jump on the back. But my phone is always nearby and I always end up picking it up.
I know I’m not alone in this. We live in a different age and smartphones are changing everything. When I’m driving somewhere and I pass a parent on the street pushing a pram, they are in a zombie-like trance. One hand on the pram handle, the other hand holding a phone up to their face. I don’t want to look like that. I don’t want to be like that. But I know that’s me.
A few things have happened lately that have made me want to take a break from social media and just my phone in general. Small moments where I suddenly think, ‘these days are going by so quickly, I need to be more present’. But then those moments pass and I get bored, reaching for my phone again.
But yesterday something happened that sort of stabbed me in the guts a bit. Candice and I were in the lounge room where Oscar was playing with his toys.We were both on our phones not really doing anything important when Oscar suddenly wandered off down the hallway. I assumed that he went into his bedroom but after a minute of silence, Candice walked down the hall to find that he wasn’t in his room. He was actually in the our bedroom right next to his. He had climbed up onto the bed to reach my old iPhone (we use it to play soft music when he is sleeping in there) from the bed head. She watched him climb down and carry the old phone out to the lounge where he then walked straight up and handed to me, saying ‘Ta’.
So where do I start? The idea of going on a phone ban is exciting to me as I think of all the things I could do with that time. All the projects I could work on. All the extra activities I could fit in with Oscar. I just worry about the reality of it. Is it naive to think a complete phone ban is realistic? Perhaps a different plan where I simply set limitations on phone usage would work better? I think I’m finding it difficult because I love the online community that I socialise with. I’ve made actual friends through some social media avenues and would be sad to neglect them. I’m scared of feeling lonely and isolated. Since having Oscar, I don’t have many ‘real life friends’ that I actually catch up with. Only 1 of them actually has kids and I know she has her hands full with a newborn right now. I have a lot of non parent friends I would like to catch up with but it always feels like we would be a burden, dragging a toddler along.
I just need to work out a balance somehow. I have thought about perhaps deleting the apps from my phone. That way I would have to log onto my mac in order to visit these sites. Or even simply turning off all notifications so that I’m not tempted to check in all the time. Or even just implementing the ban only when Oscar is with me?
It sounds so outrageous that this is such a big issue in my life right now.
I just don’t know. Any advice out there?