This post was written by Creative QT Owner & Founder Adam Hinkle. Learn more about the Hinkle Family and the heart behind Creative QT here!
Like most parents, we are concerned about the amount of time our kids spend in front of the screen. But, are we taking stock of how much time we ourselves spend staring at phones while our kids are wanting to spend time with us?
Take a walk around any park and you will see tons of kids playing while Mom or Dad stare down at their phones (I should know, I’m often one of them). We worry about the kids, but the fact is we may have more of a screen time problem than they do. We spend so much of our time checking emails, social media, news, weather, etc. We have a world of information at our fingertips, but the danger is we are missing what’s happening right in front of us.
This is why I recommend you make family rules for where and when a phone should be present. Here are some ideas for ways you can focus on putting down the phone, and being present to Make Time Together as a family.
1. Phones should never be present at the dinner table.
When we bring our phones to the table, it is an invitation to the rest of the world to interrupt one of the last places dedicated to family time.
2. Find family activities that you can’t bring a phone to (think of activities that aren’t electronics compatible).
One of my all time favorite things to do is to ride an inner tube down the Guadalupe River in Texas with family. Phones aren’t even an option, so the whole family spends the day floating and talking. Most pools, water sports, or water parks are a great fit for this.
We also used to go hiking in the national forests of Colorado. There is no cell signal which takes care of most of the problem. In general, if you can find an activity where phones don’t work, it removes the distraction.
3. Leave the phone in the car at certain events.
This includes events such as movies, church and family time. Just leave the phone in the car! You won’t have to think about it and you won’t be tempted to scroll through your newsfeed when you could be spending quality time.
4. Designate a phone free day.
Choose one day per week or month where you don’t carry a phone. Perhaps each Saturday you put the phone in the night stand... and leave it there ... all day. You will realize that if you go to the park, you are playing with your children while many other parents are looking at their phone.
5. Use 'Do Not Disturb' mode during family activities.
Did you know that you can put your phone on "do not disturb" and still allow your favorited contacts to call in? So only your parents, wife, kids, and closest friends can call you? The rest of the world can wait!
6. Download a Distraction Blocking App.
There are distraction blocking apps that allow you to block all apps that may take you away from the most important thing at the time. One app named Offtime even allows you to create settings custom to the event you are at, so you can create a “family” mode on your phone to help balance your life.
7. Treat your phone like a swear jar.
Want to make it fun? Each time your kids catch you breaking one of the rules, you have to add $1 to taking the family out for ice cream. If the kids keep calling you out you may end up adding money to the swear jar too!
Whatever you do, I just wanted to encourage you to take some proactive steps toward taking control of how much we stare at a phone when we could be interacting with family. Our relationship with our phone might be one of the biggest barriers to our relationship with our kids. Not only that, but we are nonverbally telling our kids and those around us that whatever is happening on our phones is more important than time with them.
It’s okay for people not to be able to get a hold of us sometimes. It’s okay not to always have a camera to capture each moment. It’s okay just to be present, person-to-person.
What I’m saying is nothing new and it’s likely something you already know and have heard a million times. My challenge is for you to now sit down with your family and have a serious conversation about the role your phone plays in your life. If you’re anything like me, it plays a bigger role than you may realize.
Creative QT designs quality + innovative toys that declutter homes and inspire creative play. Founded by parents of five, Adam and Dana Sue Hinkle, Creative QT’s vision is to empower parents and encourage a culture of families that Make Time Together. All products are designed to enrich families’ lives through active, creative play and play based learning. Creative QT products are laboratory tested for compliance with CPSC requirements and are free of lead, cadmium and phthalates so you can play with confidence. So, go ahead … today is the day: be your kid’s hero.
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