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Momma: Please put down your phone!

Dear Momma . . .

 Do you check your phone every time you have a spare moment?

♥  Is your participation in your child’s events waning because of your need to capture the perfect picture?

♥  Are you guilty of missing a moment because you are trying to share it on social media?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, chances are that you’re way too plugged in for your own good, and your kids want you to know something . . .

o

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A Mother’s Day gift to have my hair done recently landed me at the salon where I noticed that in between women having their hair blown, curled, permed, colored and roller set, virtually everyone was preoccupied with their cell phone.  

Whether the ladies were texting, tweeting, snap-chatting, checking their Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram accounts, watching YouTube, checking emails or simply surfing the web – they were all plugged in!

And while I, too, was on my phone, as I thought it was an opportune time to check emails and reply to some comments on my blog, it still intrigued me to see almost every woman present preoccupied with her phone, including the mom who was there with her infant daughter.

I mean, what an odd phenomenon, this staring into the phone thing.  If an alien from outer space came to Earth to observe human behavior, they may conclude that our phones are either an energy or food source!

As I sat there, I wondered (in the worst way) if my two oldest daughters will be overly preoccupied with their phones when their kids come along (one is newly married and the other on the verge of marriage).

I sincerely hope that when they become parents, that they will know better.  But I am fearful that they won’t.

***

When I had my four oldest kids, there were no cell phones to distract me or consume my attention.  That was 19 to 29 years ago.  But today, I routinely observe mother’s walking down the street or sitting in restaurants while talking on their phones (for extended periods of time) instead of engaging their kids.

 The problem is not that we have cell phones – the problem is that we always have them out.

Mom and Dad on cell phones

Being “plugged-in” has become a way of life, but what’s scary is that we norm it.   

***

Confessions of a recovering phone addict . . .

Autumn Joy

As a mommy blogger, especially one who enjoys family life, I used to take tons of photos to post to Facebook and Instagram, and to share here on my blog.  I didn’t do it because I wanted to give the impression that my family was better than anyone else’s, I did it with ministry in mind – I was trying to showcase how wonderful and amazing family life is; and whose family was better to exhibit  than my own, as my family was readily accessible!

My motives were pure and I was able to pull that “capture that moment” thing off for a while – but I had to stop because the following problems arose . . .

  • What I post today may embarrass my kid tomorrow. My kids didn’t always have problems with the pictures I posted of them, but then grew up; and the picture that I thought was irresistible and totally melted my heart as a mom was suddenly causing my kid grief.  One of my kids once told me that his co-workers Googled his name which returned a ton of his baby and childhood pics – and as a joke, some of them used his pics as screen savers!  It was all in the name of good, clean fun, but it was still unsettling, nonetheless.  Of course I told my son that using his face a screen saver was only logical because he’s so darn cute, but I’m not sure that helped. :o)
  • As my kids got older they became more private.  Almost all of my kids were happy to have their pictures taken and to be the center of attention when they were tots, but as they became preteens and understood that their images may be shared on various social media sites, they became wary about saying “Cheese.”
  • I began to miss the moments trying to capture the moments.  At first, my kids didn’t mind (or necessarily notice) that my cell phone was becoming an extension of my hand, but eventually mom saying, “Wait, do that again . . . I have to get my phone.” and “Hold that pose for one more (awkward and unnatural) minute.” began to wear on their last nerve!  I think one of my kids even felt like they were being used.  So, after several of their complaints and some conviction from the Holy Spirit, I finally laid my cell phone down.
The outcome . . .

It’s been about a solid year or so since I stopped routinely snapping and posting.  I still enjoy looking at my friends’ Facebook and Instagram posts, but you will no longer find a well-documented account of my families’ life there (as was the case in previous years) because I am living in the moment and not missing it to snap photos.

At first, I felt like I was missing everything – not taking a ton of pics.  Then I asked myself why I ever thought that everything was meant to be captured in the first place.

You won’t believe this because I don’t look a day over 17 (that was your one good laugh for the day), but I wasn’t born in the digital age, and still, the baby and childhood pictures that I see of myself are more than enough.  I love looking at my baby album and childhood albums of occasional vacations and family reunions with the annual school picture thrown in – and that seems to be enough.  And then there were other significant milestones like my Sweet 16, as well as my high school and college life – the latter two which were snapped by me.  Why do I think that my kids need more than that?

I still struggle . . .

Even more than a year later, I still sometimes feel overcome with the need to snap and share.  Sunday was my 19-year-old’s birthday, and as we sat at the breakfast table just before heading to church, I thought about how appropriate it would be to take a picture of her lovely breakfast spread to share on social media . . . but I didn’t.  I rode out the impulse and let the opportunity pass, and you know what: NONE OF MY CHILDREN COMPLAINED OR EVEN CARED.  We will always have the memory in my heart.

Not taking a picture for everything is becoming “normal” to me again.

Now that the photo demon has been tamed, I am constantly trying to get the beast of Facebook, messaging and email under control.  (I kicked Pinterest and Instagram to the curb some time ago and I never became a tweeter – though I feel a little birdie strongly calling my name.)  It seems to be a never ending war, but it’s one worthy of waging!

A final word of caution . . . 

My four oldest children (ages 19, 21, 22, and 29) have an abundance of pictures in baby books, photo albums, and in decorative photo boxes.

BUT when it comes to my 9 and 11 year-old there are virtually no print pictures (comparatively speaking).  Over 90% of their photo life is digital: archived on my cell phone, Facebook, or even on this website (which I sometimes consider to be a virtual scrapbook.  Yikes!)  Some of their photos are even dying a slow death in my previous cell phone, which was put out to pasture when I upgraded.

So, I’m going out with a strong word of caution (and a funny video) to all of you momma’s with babies born in the digital age. Please print your pictures!  Don’t let this happen to you . . .

  I’ve shared this article at these fabulous faith and family link-ups.

Comments

  1. Yes, Tiffiney! Thanks so much for letting me know about this post! May God bless us all with the wisdom of how to use–and how NOT to use–those little powerhouses we call phones. Only with guidance from the Holy Spirit can they be a blessing to us!

  2. Hi Tiffiney! I so related to this post! I went through a very similar phase not long ago! Now I have to remind myself to get that good picture to have the memory 🙂 Phones and other digital devices are such a gift, but as in any gift, we can allow it to be a thorn if we aren’t careful. Balance and moderation, right? Thank you so much, friend, for sharing this alongside me at Moments of Hope! I love having you there!
    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori

  3. So true, I have made the decision to stop with my phone, I keep it in a zipped section of my purse, so that I am not tempted to pull it out all the time when we are out, like at the library or park. I will take one picture at the beginning or end of an event, and put it away for the rest of it. I try to avoid sharing most of those pictures, simply because no one needs to be a part of my life in such a way. It’s helped me to really be there for my kids, and I have the time to talk to the few other moms who are at the park, you know really socialize 😉

    Thanks for sharing with The Cozy Reading Spot

    • Hi Marissa, keeping it in the zipped section of your purse is being so proactive. Keep up the great work!

  4. I agree that there is a phone obsession in our world. If you remember the Pixar Movie Wall-E, all the humans were so obsessed with their screens that they no longer did anything for themselves. Kind like art mimicking reality. I have consciously done the same thing as you. Put the phone away and just engage with my kids! While there are some moments that still get a snapshot, the value of just spending time together outweighs the archive value. thanks!

    • Hi Karen, Isn’t it funny how art mimics reality? Good observation, there. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. I am so glad that I found your blog recently – everything you write is pure gold! I have been struggling with this too. It hit me when my daughter was a flower girl for a wedding. I tried so hard to get the perfect picture that I completely missed her going down the aisle (and didn’t even get a good picture either). So I’ve been better at taking less pictures, but not at staying off my phone. How do you do it? What rules do you have at home for those who have phones? Thanks for sharing this with us for Tuesday Talk – I’m featuring it on the blog and Facebook this week! -Jessica, Sweet Little Ones

  6. Great insight, Tiffany! I’ve been trying to be very mindful of these things as well and it’s great to know you are being proactive too. Thank you for leading us so well. I’m stopping by from Lori Schumacher’s new linkup.

    • Hi Stacey,

      Yes, being proactive is one step in fighting the battle. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! I love Lori’s “Hope” linkup!

  7. We have time for Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram etc. There are so many apps are available today to waste your expensive time on mobile phones. It is good if we are using mobile phones as a business tools. But when we are with our family then we should avoid mobile phones. Give your time to your kids. They are more than valuable.

    ~Dr. Diana

  8. Beware of missing moments trying to capture moments! This was the part that stuck out to me the most. You are so right about that darn phone. My kiddos were “pretending to be mommy” last week by putting on one of my hats and walking around the house texting on the phone.

    OUCH! Lesson learned.

    • Hey Sarah! That’s hilarious – sort of! I get where you are coming from…there is humor there, but also a reminder for us moms to put those phones down. (If my kid walked around imitating me, she might have the phoned taped to her side! Lol! But I did say I was recovering. :o)

  9. Amen Sista! We “live in our personal rectangles” for too much today. And MISS life!

    Please share these words at the DanceWithJesus linkup today to bless someone there. SusanBMead.com/between/. I’m your neighbor at Grace and Truth this morning. Hugs. Susan

    • Hey Susan, thanks for stopping by. Great minds think alike…I already linked up at Dance with Jesus! :o)

  10. GREAT post!! I don’t have a cell phone, and I am frequently startled by finding myself in places where everyone in sight is using a cell/smart phone in some way. So much of it is so unnecessary, and when it’s taking attention away from children or other real-life companions, it’s very sad.

    I do have an iPad, which I use around the house and take with me on overnight trips. Sometimes I’ll realize that I’m looking at my email, blog, or Facebook when my kids would like my attention. It’s definitely something to be wary of, and I’m definitely not immune to the lure.

    I also have a digital camera that I often carry in my work bag or the diaper bag so I’ll have it if I want to take a photo. I don’t use it all that much…maybe twice a week for a few shots at a time? I think it’s important to have *some* photos of our lives, but there’s no need to overdo it. I don’t post pictures of our faces on Facebook (because Facebook has the right to use your photos any way they want!) and I very rarely use photos of us on my blog, so that limits what I “need” to do with photos, and I’m mainly just taking them for family and archives.

    • Hi Becca: 2016 and no cell phone?! I’ve got to read your post! Sounds like you’re doing a great job and I’ll have to get a tip of two from you! Thanks for stopping by.

  11. I hear you Tiffany!! Oh I sooo hear you!!! This was so good and such a wise post. Although I’m not that mom, there is some work I can do on it. Thank you for the reminder!

    • Shannon! Good hearing from you, sis! Good to hear that this is not your struggle, per say. Blessings to you

  12. All great points. It takes a huge effort to be present and thoughtful about technology – we have become SO dependent on these amazing resources, and so disconnected. Thanks for the great post!
    – Ayelet from Strength In Words

    • Hello Ayelet! Yes, such a huge effort, but so well worth it! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing.

  13. I almost didn’t click on this link because I’ve seen similar articles and thought they were annoying. That being said… I liked this. I struggle with cell phone usage a lot. A big part of it is I don’t really have close friends nearby, nor do I have access to a car most of the time, so I can’t just visit people. We also live far away from any family, so I don’t get the interaction from them that I usually would, and I like posting pictures so they feel connected.
    Between my husband’s crazy schedule and chronic pain issues, I end up feeling really lonely. I’m not sure if social media helps me feel more connected or if it makes me feel worse. But I do know I try to ease the pain of the loneliness and isolation by constantly being on my phone.
    It’s so difficult. I actually commented on a post on Facebook where someone had shared an article called To The Mom Without A Village. I mentioned my struggles, and had a lot of well-meaning advice suggesting I join a mom group or go for walks. Which is nice, but I’m constantly going for walks, and I don’t know of any mom’s groups in my area. I know of some further away, but again, I don’t have a car.
    It’s just tough. I realize this is a super long comment. If you have any advice for me I might be up to hearing it 🙂

    • Hi Leah, what a precious sister you are! Thank you for visiting and sharing so transparently from your heart. I’m so glad that you did click over. Perhaps there will be some kind of takeaway for you in my 2 cents response. :o)

      To begin with, I notice that you have several unique factors regarding your life that perhaps many of us do not have: you live away from family and friends without access to a car. In this sense, I can certainly see how keeping in touch and updating loved ones by phone could be a two-way blessing. And then there’s the added pressure of hubby’s schedule and pain issues. I get it. And so, for all the reasons you’ve mentioned, I think it’s very likely that someone in your shoes would be on the phone more than others, because in this sense, the phone is like your life-line – allowing you to engage and talk with loved ones. So, allow yourself the “extra” time and don’t beat yourself up about it.

      However, I have a hunch that you may still need to limit your usage in some way (based on what you’ve shared), because no matter what we’re going through or how isolated we may feel, we still need to set limits. The thing is, only you and the Lord can decide what your limit should be (we can’t be legalistic about phone usage(!) – what’s right for one person will be wrong for another) so being sensitive to the Lord about this is key.

      My suggestion is to pray and ask for leading on what healthy phone usage for YOU should be. That’s the safe answer. The not so safe answer is to impose my views, but here goes (feel free to disregard and print out my profile pic and throw darts at it if I annoy you!): try checking in and posting on Facebook only three times a day – say morning, noon and night? And when you do post updates and check your news feed, set a fairly rigid time and then get off (some of us can get lost in the world of FB). DON’T PICK THE PHONE BACK UP TO CHECK FOR LIKES/COMMENTS until your next allowed time. And if you can’t respond to everyone in the set time – so what?! (I have to tell myself this to survive.) And about the phone calls: you may want to allow yourself a set # of calls per day (like two good conversations?) or have a set time for ALL calls combined. One or the other. Again, it’s all about setting limits and healthy boundaries.

      I hope some of this helps. You are my sister in Christ and I love you like cooked food! (Remember that should you decide to use my picture as a dart board!) :o) I will be praying for you. ♥

  14. Tiffiney, Your posts almost always brings tears to my eyes and resonate strongly with me. My family couldn’t afford to often purchase film when I was growing up. My mom and dad were very choosy about the photos they snapped. One day we had the money and my mom and I took our treasured film to be developed. Each roll had prudently chosen pictures that I can still see in my mind from birthdays and Christmas.

    Those pictures are precious.

    I’m learning that, for me, it is challenging to treasure a moment while capturing it. And I desperately want my children to know I treasure them. I WANT to enjoy treasuring them.

    Thank you for this post.

    • Hi Nicole: your sentiments are so touching. “…prudently chosen pictures…” I love that! May I be more prudent about what I snap in the future. :o)

  15. We don’t have smart phones, so luckily this isn’t really an issue we have to struggle with, but I’m sure it will be difficult if the day ever comes that we get some. I have to tell you – that photo of you taking the picture of your daughter, where you’re both wearing coordinating colors with your outfits? Love it! You are both too cute!

    • Hey Lisa, no smart phones??? How in the world do you manage that??? Please write a blog post about that. I think I want to be you! :o) And oh …thanks for the compliment on the coordinating outfits. It wasn’t planned, but we are both looking kinda cute! :o) (He he!)

  16. Hi Tiffiney-This is so true and timely. I am a very private person and while I don’t do a lot of personal sharing online, I do look at my phone too often. I thrive on all things wellness and memory related in my work and writing and there are studies that show we remember less when we are constantly taking pics of everything! Great reminders-especially to moms-we can never get out moments with our children back! Glad I stopped from #Coffeeforyourheart

    • Hey Jill, I certainly better put that phone down because I have problems remembering things already. Lol! Thanks for stopping g by and sharing.

  17. These words are so powerful they need to be shared and shared and shared. I’m with you Spirit Sister on this issue. I’ll be including a link to this article in my Friday Faves Post. Blessings to you and yours! Marie

    • Thank you so much for sharing, Marie! I will be stopping by your place this Friday to check it out.

  18. Tiffiney, your words are so needed in our distracted world! I am sad when I see women pushing a stroller with their ear buds in or their phones in front of their faces while their little person is missing out on all that opportunity for conversation and bonding!

    • Hey Michele! Yes, sadly we see this scene far too often, and I have been that distracted mom, too. Thanks God that there’s room for improvement for us all. :o)

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