five days without a smartphone: observations

smartphone

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My smartphone gave out a couple of weeks ago.  Without much thought I ordered a new one right away and braced myself for the “inconveniences” I would have to face.  It should be said that originally I didn’t really want a smartphone, but I caved to the idea that I could use it as a “tool” for work and better efficiency in my daily life.  Before I got my first smartphone (the one that died) I enjoyed a bliss-filled year-plus of cell-phone-free living.  Five days without a smartphone convinced me that it’s time to reassess.

Here’s what I noticed in five days without instant access to Internet, email, and apps.

I paid better attention to my kids.

This one is difficult to admit.  I felt that I already had pretty strict no-technology-when-the-kids-are-around habits in place for myself, but I’ve been slipping.  It’s too easy to jump on Pinterest or feedly when I have a few minutes to kill, rather than read a story to my boys.  When I am being diligent about staying focused on the present moment, the knowledge that those distractions are only a few taps away become resentment-inducing.

In the time I was without my phone I listened and connected better with my kids; our days were just happier.  I paid better attention, which helped me get the jump on squabbles.  They weren’t competing for my attention with my phone, so I didn’t get annoyed.

And, as if I need any more convincing, I can’t get these two incidents (which just happened in the last 24 hours) out of my head:

Spud:  “Computers are fun.”

Me: “Yes, but there are lots of fun things to do (I’m thinking like read, go on walks, etc.).”

Spud: “Yeah, like phones!!!”  (Ouch).

FB, whose interest in books is growing enough that he brings me books and demands re-reads (over and over), climbed in my lap with one of his favorites.  I prepared to read, but he wasn’t ready to start.  “Phone,” he said, and motioned for me to put it under my leg (my common practice to keep him from stealing it).  This demand happened on several different occasions, and I can only assume that he’s caught me looking at my phone on the sly during my multiple recitations of The Berenstain Bears Ride the Thunderbolt and didn’t appreciate it.  (Ouch again).

My kids are more than enough reason for me to return to a more archaic cell phone, but here are a few more things I appreciated about being smartphone-free.

I read more books
I read more from books in five phone-free days than I have since FB was born, 19 months ago.  I finished at least two books, and the feeling of accomplishment was energizing.  Most importantly, my kids saw me reading; when I’m reading books on my phone, they have no clue that that is what I’m doing; the assumption is that I’m doing something “fun”.  (Fortunately, they both think reading is fun, but at some point they might start to think it’s not).  Ironically, some of the books I was reading during this time solidified my feelings that my kids need to see me reading real paper books.  They need to see me writing about their projects in a paper journal, not on my phone.  (More on all of that coming soon.)
I felt less distracted
My head felt clearer, less cluttered.  I could focus on the task at hand without feeling the compulsion to check my email or feedly.
I spent less time on the computer overall
It took real effort for me to turn on the computer, sit down, and look at all of the stuff I usually check on my phone.  And, when it came down to it, I realized I would rather spend that time reading a book or doing something else that I never have “time” to do.
So, I’ve begun planning my smartphone exit strategy.  There will definitely be things I’ll miss–having a phone and camera in one, being able to check all of my emails in one place, an electronic notepad.
I’ve seen many pro and con posts about moms and phones, and they both have good points, but for me, the bottom line is that I don’t want the people in my life to feel that they rank lower on my list than a phone.  It’s that simple.
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One thought on “five days without a smartphone: observations

  1. Thank you for sharing this!
    I don’t have a smart phone but when at home I do find myself spending more time on the iPad doing all of the things you mentioned.
    There are science and nature articles that I can’t read in paper form but I am trying to read those after the kids go to bed…
    Trying to find a balance.

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