When we lived in New York we lived in the Catskill Mountains. We lived so far up in fact that the only internet service you could get was dial-up, yes people, that still exists, or satellite internet and television because having cable was not an option. Now, add to that, the only cell phone service we had was an on and off 1G signal from a very specific spot on the back of our couch, with the phone propped up against the window just right. We basically lived in the stone ages, people. Okay, maybe not that dramatic but the point I’m trying to make is that we were living a disconnected life.
It definitely had its perks. It was nice to come home at night and be able to really be together as a family. We spent time outside, talked at dinner and found other more productive and relaxing ways to fill our time. Did I miss having my cell phone and cable at times, sure? I really wished we had cell service when the phone lines would go out and we were completely cut off from communication unless we wanted to park on one of the random spots on the mountain that gave us enough service to make a call. I also sometimes missed a lazy day of binge watching reruns of my favorite shows. All that aside, though, it wasn’t a bad way to live.
Fast forward to last July when we moved to Iowa and that all changed. Suddenly we had full access to cell signals and cable tv. It was awesome! I didn’t actually realize just how much we had gotten sucked into the tech abyss until about two weeks ago, though. Addie and I were sitting in the tv room of my parent’s house and I was flipping through my Facebook feed while Addie was babbling next to me and I was answering with vague, “uh huh’s” and “oh yeah’s”. What Addie said to me that day was like a punch to the gut. As I was staring at my phone Addie leaned into me and said, “Mommy, I miss you.” Talk about a reality check.
Clearly, I needed a digital detox and not just a, take a day off detox but I needed to really learn how to decrease the tech distractions in my life and my family’s life. I don’t know about you but I didn’t really know how hard this was going to be. I mean, I lived without much tech distraction in my life for 9 years, not to mention actually growing up in an age where it wasn’t normal for everyone to carry around multiple electronic devices. Yes, I’m pulling out our grandparent’s, “when I was your age” scenario, don’t judge me.
In all seriousness, though, Addie’s comment two weeks ago snapped me back to reality and I realized just how much we had let technology seep into our lives and distract us from the important things. I spent Addie’s first 3 1/2 years of life wishing with all my heart that I could just be home with her and what was I doing now that I was finally given that time? I was flipping through my Facebook feed and ignoring my little girl. Shame on me for that. So now, I’m making the conscious effort to disconnect and really be present with my daughter.
Disconnecting for me has meant leaving my cell phone off until after we have had breakfast and leaving it at home if we go to the park, outside or for a walk. We do not allow cell phones at the dinner table and if they go off we must leave them until after everyone has finished eating and we’ve cleaned up. I’m also making a concerted effort to leave my phone in another room when Addie asks me to play with her so that I’m not tempted by the screen. This is not to say I haven’t slipped and that our family, as a whole, doesn’t have a ways to go in our digital detox journey, but its progress. I don’t ever again want to hear the words, “Mommy, I miss you.” come out of my daughter’s mouth, when I’m sitting right next to her and spend each day with her.
How has technology shaped your family dynamic?