I remember the day my oldest told me, “Mom, you’re always on your phone. You hardly put it down.” And daaaang. If that wasn’t a whole word, I don’t know what is. And while the old me might’ve been like, “no I’m not” or “well, your dad is on it more than me.” Instead, I put the phone down, looked him in the eyes, and said, “you know what, you’re right. I have been on my phone a lot lately.” The truth is, I was going through a really hard time (not related to the kids) and I was using the phone to escape from the hard feelings I was coping with as a result of what was happening.
We ended up having a conversation where he shared that he wanted more time with me. I apologized for making him feel like he was second-string to whatever conversations I was engaging in online. I started to become more intentional. I am nowhere near perfect, but I am still working on building better habits where I intentionally leave the phone behind or put it in another room so that my kids get my undivided attention. Here I am, a work-at-home, homeschooling mom, around my kids all day long, but yet, I was still disconnected from them because in my “free time” I was spending a lot of time behind the screen.
There are so many great reasons to put your smartphones down. But engaging with your kids face to face is crucial. In the context of gentle parenting and peaceful parenting, connection is vital. Here are 5 reasons to leave your phone at home, put it in another room, and just be with your kids.
1. Build Stronger Bonds
When you set aside your smartphone and give your child your undivided attention, you create an environment of trust and security. My kids are the most important things to me, but when I constantly create a wall between us using a smartphone, it communicates to them that mommy doesn’t care or that they are not as important as whatever I am doing online. And whether that’s my intention or not, that’s what happens.
When I put aside my phone to connect with them, they feel valued and cherished, knowing that their parent is fully present. This closeness fosters a deep emotional bond that forms the foundation for a strong parent-child relationship. These bonds are essential because they provide a sense of stability and support, which can help children navigate the challenges of adolescence and beyond.
2. Communication Skills
As a homeschooling mama, communication skills are important. I give my kids opportunities to communicate with me and in our community all the time. Face-to-face interactions are a rich source of learning for children, especially when it comes to communication skills. When you engage in conversations with your child, they have the opportunity to learn the art of articulating their thoughts, feelings, and ideas effectively. If you have a phone up when you are trying to talk with them, it doesn’t have the same impact. By putting the smartphone down, they also learn the importance of active listening and giving empathetic responses. These skills are invaluable for success in their learning, relationships, and future careers.
3. Cultivates Emotional Intelligence
Emotions are a fundamental aspect of the human experience, and developing emotional intelligence is crucial for a child’s well-being. When you engage with your child face-to-face, you can better recognize their emotional cues, helping you respond appropriately. By demonstrating empathy and teaching your child to identify and manage their emotions, you equip them with the tools to navigate everything else in life. Good emotional intelligence will help them pursue their dreams, be attuned to their future spouse and children, and so much more.
4. Healthy Screen-Time Habits
If I am being honest, my kids model me. A lot. Far more than their dad, simply because I am the one with them all day long. Children naturally model their behavior after their parents. If they constantly see you engrossed in your smartphone, they may assume that this is the norm. By consciously limiting your screen time and demonstrating that there are moments when technology should take a back seat, you help your child establish a healthier relationship with digital devices. Encouraging outdoor play, creative activities, and family conversations can strike a balance between screen time and real-life experiences.
5. Creating Lasting Memories
All of my best memories have been created during face-to-face interactions. Whether it’s a road trip, a game night, or playing at a park, these moments become stories that your child will carry with them throughout their lives. I remember when we found this amazing random park in Kansas on one of our cross country trips or this great hotel in the middle of nowhere that my kids just want to go visit. I remember hiking, exploring, and seeing the world with my children and making memories with them. Their laughter and smiles all because I saw them with my own eyes and not through my phone. These shared experiences shape their identity and provide a sense of belonging. As they grow, these memories become a source of comfort and a reminder of the love and connection that we have for them.