Nate and I use our phones way too much. In fact, I’d say we’re addicted. I looked up articles on phone addiction and we were able to answer yes to several of the qualifications. I’ve tried to “just use it less” and it hasn’t worked. I unconsciously and compulsively check my phone, often opening and closing Facebook over and over again without even realizing what I’m doing.
It has got to stop.
My phone use has definitely increased as a Stay At Home Mom. It started while nursing Everly and I was stuck in a chair, alone in my house. Going from a daily interaction with kindergarteners and co-workers to a quiet, repetitive life with a newborn was a drastic change. Even as an introvert, it was too much alone time. I was craving interaction and I found it on my phone. The sense of connection was fake but it seemed sufficient at the time. I really think my desire for connection is what allowed me to justify the amount of time on my phone.
Our phones have unintentionally stolen our attention away from God, our family and those around us. We’ve discussed it and we’re ready to make some changes.
Here’s what we’ve decided on:
1. Meal times: Absolutely no phones out during meal times. That time is for catching up on our day and creating family memories.
2. Social situations: Phones stay away when hanging out with friends, on a date or just any time with others. This includes standing in line at the grocery store or in a waiting room. We’re missing opportunities for real connection because we’re so plugged into a screen.
Here’s how we’re going to accomplish those goals:
- Setting limits: My goal is 45 minutes of total time spent on the internet and social media apps. I’m not limiting FaceTime since we don’t live close to family and use that as a way to keep in touch, the camera app since it’s my only source of taking pictures and basic things like the calendar and calculator. My goal is to allow myself to log in to social media stuff once in the morning and once at night.
- Moment: This app tracks your phone usage. It’s free but I purchased the upgrade so I’m able to set screen-free time and get notifications of my phone use throughout the day. It’s helpful for building awareness of my phone use, but it hasn’t been enough for me to break the habit of going on my phone so often.
- Unplugged: This free app allows you to set a time goal for how long you’d like to “unplug” from your phone. In order to activate the timer, you have to put your phone in airplane mode. If you try to use your phone before you’ve reached your goal, it asks you if you want to stop the timer. It also shows you how much time you have left until you’ve hit your desired time off your phone and that’s usually enough for me to put my phone down and wait out the remaining time. Once I do open it and turn the timer off, Unplugged gives you the option to be reminded to Unplug. I typically choose the 5-minute reminder and then set a new goal after 5 minutes.
- Nighttime Routine: I bought two alarm clocks at a thrift store so we don’t have to keep our phones on our nightstands. I don’t think Nate is on board with this one (yet) but I’m enjoying it so far. When I come up to bed, I plug my phone in on our vanity and leave it there. Usually, I surf my phone in bed, often for an hour or more. I end up staying up too late and missing out on valuable time to spend with Nate. I set up “screen-free time” on Moment from 9 pm to 11 pm. I also checked out books from the library for both of us and have them sitting on our end tables. Ending my night with a book is relaxing and feels way more productive than meaningless phone time.
- Notifications: I turned off ALL my notifications on every single app, including texting. Without the constant pinging of texts and red numbers on my apps, I’m not compulsively reaching for my phone every time I hear a sound or a buzz.
- Mindset: I think this is the hardest one and is a daily choice. I don’t need to google that random question I had now. I don’t have to look up that recipe instantly. I’m not required to respond to each text immediately. It. Can. Wait. I’ve started implementing some of these changes already. With my screen free time in the evenings, I often don’t get texts until the next morning. The world is still turning. Since I’m using airplane mode more often, I miss calls and have to respond to messages a bit slower than normal. I haven’t lost any friends. It is ok to slow down and loosen your grip on your phone.
- Diversifying: My phone does too many jobs. It’s my phone, camera, to-do list, calendar, alarm, recipe book, Bible and so much more. I am actively trying to make my phone do less work. Here’s why: Every time I pick up my phone to just “do one quick thing,” I end up scrolling through Instagram for 10 minutes and then checking my email and then and then and then. I need fewer reasons to touch my phone. Instead of going to Pinterest to look up a recipe I like, I’ve printed out all of our favorites and have them in a recipe book. Our $1 alarm clocks are “stylishly” perched on our nightstands. No need for my phone to be at my fingertips while I sleep. I’m going to read my Bible using… my Bible. I have a pad of paper in my nightstand drawer to write tasks or reminders down so I can take care of it the next day, not while I’m supposed to be relaxing with Nate. Makes sense, right?
So we’ve got a plan, now we just need to put it into action. Next week, Nate and I will be back to report on our results. We’re going to share our daily screen time totals for each day. Hopefully, there will be noticeable progress to report and the accountability of knowing we’re sharing our results here will help us stay on track.
If I can’t get a handle on my time on my phone, I’m getting a flip phone. I’m 100% serious.
(Remember, blue is written by Nate) I won’t lie to you, I’m so addicted to my phone that A) I’m not even as willing to admit I’m addicted as Chelsea is and B) I’m not as willing to make some of the changes Chelsea has made. This one is hard for me. I’ve convinced myself that I’m so important that I can’t unplug. I’ve convinced myself that unplugging might somehow make me grow further from friends etc. like my friends are all robots or something. I’m on board with most of these, but not ready to leave the phone away from the bed or turn off all notifications. Just being honest. It’s a work in progress.
Do you have any other tips on how we can break our phone addictions? We’d love for you to try some of our ideas and unplug from your phone so you can plug into your family. Let us know if you’re joining us on this challenge!