PARENTING :: Mama’s + Screen Time

It hurts a bit when we have to admit a fault. It hurts even more to do it publicly. To admit a bit of us isn’t quite as perfect as we wish. And spinning off last week’s post on kids and screen time, so much conversation evolved about the use of our own screens as mama’s. And even better yet, how it’s affecting our families.

Truth be told, I’m an addict. I think it’s hard not to be in this age.

Tips for Limiting a Mama’s Screen Time

Notifications. Emily Ley has a great set of recommendations for notification settings on your phone.

I tried her method out, and while it didn’t completely work for me, I kept some of her recommendations set on my phone, but here’s what I have set up now.

  • I turn off all banner notifications. This means nothing pops down from the top of my screen while my phone is in use, roping me in to another app. Which can easily become a vicious cycle of app jumping.
  • Badges are turned off for ALL apps. I manage my apps through only one method, the Notification Center. This way, my home screen isn’t bogged down with all those little red flags taunting me to clear them every time I return to my home screen.
  • Sound notifications are turned off for ALL apps, except phone calls and text messages. This means if my phone isn’t on silent, the only rings and dings I will hear are from people reaching out directly to me via call or text. The rest can wait.
  • Notification Center + Lock Screen are used on less pressing, but still needed apps. I tried turning notifications off completely for any and all other apps, and this may work great for some people! But I found out of curiosity, I was left unlocking and checking my phone even more because of the “what if” factor. What works best for me instead is leaving these apps with the Notification Center + Lock Screen only options selected. So if I check my phone, a quick swipe up on my lock screen will tell me if there’s anything there. I can preview easily here, manage notifications, and choose to ignore and delete most of it from the get-go. Apps I use these notifications for: Google Drive, Social Media, Email, Calendar, Reminders, Weather,

Screen Time. Apple’s Screen Time setting was such an eye opener for me!

The first few weeks I just monitored my usage. Realizing not only how much time I spent on each individual app, but also, how many unconscious pick ups and checks I was doing on my phone every day really blew my mind.

A friend showed me the various options of setting your own parameters for screen time limitations within the app, and it’s basically a mama’s babysitter for screen time use. Not only can you set and monitor your child’s screen time use (down to locking certain apps after so many minutes of use, blocking apps completely), but you can set parameters for your own app usage.

I personally have the following parameters set for myself.

  • Downtime. My downtime is set from 10 PM to 7 am. That means if I try to hop on my phone in bed, my phone makes me complete a second prompt to do so, this little extra step honestly is enough of a reminder to keep me from going on during restful times. And a less scrolling, more rested mama is a better mama!
  • App Limits – Social Networking at 2 hours, Every Day. Analyzing my screen time use it was clear my main addiction was Social Media. The Screen Time app lets you bulk all those apps together and set a limit on them (or you can set individual limits as well if you’d like!). I am currently set at a 2 hour daily limit, which honestly is still a lot. If I exceed the 2 hours in a day, the same reminder screen pops up, asking me if I want to ignore the limit, forcing me to check my priorities.
  • Always Allowed. Phone, Messages, FaceTime and Maps are my only “anytime” apps allowed on my phone. Other than that, I need the iPhone babysitter help all I can get!

Lock Screen Wallpaper. Use a healthy visual reminder on your lock screen.

This is my current lock screen wallpaper. The reminder that eye contact is key to relationships really helps keep my priorities in check whenever I pick up my phone and check it.

Creating a Home for My Phone. Storing my phone out of sight helps deter the compulsive pick ups.

Seeing my unconscious amount of phone pick ups and checks, I realized I needed to put an additional physical barrier between myself and my cell phone. Placing your phone in a drawer, inside a cupboard, or even high up on a shelf is a great place to store it. Creating that additional barrier between yourself and your device means you have to choose to overcome that physical obstacle in order to reach for it.

In my instance, I’ve placed my phone on our counter top in this little pair of boots. I found this at the Target Dollar Spot (unfortunately no longer available, but here’s a knockoff from Amazon with similar dimensions!) and it conveniently fits three phones. We try to house them there during the day so our eyes and hands can better serve our family relationships.

Books. Keeping interesting books on hand gives me an option to fill my hands, and occupy my mind, without defaulting to the screen.

Often times, especially as a SAHM to young children, I’ve found myself needing to occupy a bit of time while I’m monitoring my kids’ play. Whether we are stuck in a space of the home that doesn’t have a current task needing completion, or the many hours we spend outside each day, I’m left sitting, and tempted to reach for my phone. Choosing to fill my hands with a book instead has been such an awesome alternative. I’m left with much less anxiety (hello to the new wave of Instagram Inadequacy and Motherhood), and instead I’m more relaxed and fulfilled.

A great book to start with, that will also reset your mind is Present Over Perfect. A breezy read that helps reset your mind to saying no to the busy noise, and making room for the yes’s that matter.

For a list of my fave books, head here!

Eye Contact. Choosing to give my kids undivided attention instead of my phone.

This was for some reason a hard, and sad habit to form. But if I’m on my phone, no matter what my current task is, and my child comes up to me needing attention, I set my phone face side down and make direct eye contact with them.

Online one day (ironically enough) I stumbled across a photo series created by American Photographer Eric Pickersgill, where he took ordinary pictures of ordinary people, but photoshopped out the devices from their hands. The results still haunt me. I don’t want these to be the snapshots my children remember from their childhood. I strongly encourage you to flip through this gallery below of some of Eric Pickersgill’s work.

How to prevent this. Of course, my hope is all the tips above deter this from happening in our home as much as possible. But also, showing them my undivided attention with direct eye contact conveys their importance is greater that that of my device. AND THIS IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO SEND TO THEIR LITTLE HEARTS!

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