I kept wanting to write up how my Break Up With Your Phone Challenge went, but it never flowed the way I wanted it to. And now, with the craziness that is the world and our personal lives right now, I feel like I’ve completely undone the work that was detoxing from my phone. Last week, I spent on average just under 5 hours a day on my phone, with almost 7 hours on Sunday- yikes! And my anxiety at the end of each day was there to show for it.
It is so easy to get dragged into the scroll of social media and news headlines in general, and it’s almost impossible to get out of it right now following this crazy Covid-19 pandemic. Between that and the fact that *spoiler alert* we’re planning to move back to Minneapolis in the very near future, I’ve been trying to “take control” by getting all of the information possible so that we can make all of the right decisions. But at the end of the day, the time on my phone has been taking me away from peace and leading me right into anxiety. While I may have *some* answers to my questions, and it is good to know what’s going on in the world, diving too deep into the details is only going to lead to a downward spiral that nobody needs.
Luckily, I have the tools from my phone break up to navigate this crisis without diving too deep into the screen abyss. Hopefully, by sharing some of what I’m going to attempt to get myself back on track, you may be able to break away from your phone or whatever screen you’re also doing the scroll from, and we can refocus on what is happening right in front of us that we can actually control.
Set Those App Timers
The thing that has helped me most so far (at least before the world got crazy) is setting timers on certain apps so that I can only spend so much time a day on each. I’m able to do this through a Digital Wellbeing setting already in my phone, but there are also many apps that you can download to help with this. While it is shocking many days to go in and see how much time I’m spending on certain apps, it’s important in taking control of that time again. I’ve been able to stick to my less than 30 min each on Facebook and Instagram (especially with only being able to be on them after 7pm due to my Lenten fast!), but I think I’m going to need to add timers or a block on my CNN news app and my Chrome search engine since those are my biggest time wasters the last few days!
To help with my social media Lent fast, I’ve also downloaded an app called Block in which I can create blocks of time in which I’m not even able to open up different apps during that time. This has been super helpful in that I don’t even have the option to screw up- unless I check through my browser which I’m really doing my best not to do! By setting up my phone for success, I am able to be more intentional with my time, and actually do what I want to do in my social media rather than get sucked too far in.
Get Your Phone Out of the Bedroom (And the Dining Room!)
Setting up physical boundaries was one of the earlier steps in my phone detox challenge- starting with moving where you charge your phone. I used to charge my phone right next to my bed so it was the last thing I did before the lights went out and the first thing I did when I woke up. At first when I moved where I charged it, I tried to do it at our kitchen counter. However, the way that our space is laid out, it was right within reach of my spot at our dining room table, so I ended up spending mealtimes that were just me and the kids on my phone rather than paying attention to them.
Instead, I’ve started charging it in the bathroom overnight. I can check it for anything I might’ve missed (which is usually nothing), but then I try to leave it where it is for as long as I can instead of taking it around the house with me. Throughout the past couple weeks, I’ve gotten back in the habit of using it during kid mealtimes, so I’m going to have to find a new physical place for it to live during those times so that I’m not tempted to use it then! While this might seem like a good time to check out, I get super ornery with them when they’re “distracting” me from my phone, and that’s not allowing me to be the kind of mom I want to be.
I might also try to take the physical boundaries a step further in the coming days and give my phone a “bedtime” and “wake-up time” as the How to Break Up With Your Phone book suggests. That way, I get some wind down time at the end of the night that doesn’t include my phone, and I don’t have to start my day with yet another anxiety-inducing headline.
Turn to Activities Other than Your Phone
During my phone breakup, I put together this list of activities that I could do rather than my phone. For me, these are things like reading, making time for prayer, and sudoku puzzles, among others. I’ve been able to incorporate a few of these activities pretty well, but I haven’t been as great at setting myself up for success as I started out. I’ve found that if I want to read during the day rather than be on my phone, I need to have the book that I want to read in my normal sitting spots and not stashed away somewhere. Apparently, I’m too lazy to get my book from my bedroom when I’m in the living room, so I might as well just hang out on my phone instead.
What has surprised me most with having activities that aren’t my phone while the kids are playing is that they will self-entertain much longer if I’m reading my book or Bible on the couch than if I’m on my phone. The same happened when I was in a habit of doing yoga during Charlie’s nap/Nora’s quiet time- Nora would play around me with little interruptions compared to if I was just hanging out on my phone, expecting her to play. So if nothing else, finding something that you can do other than your phone *may* help your kids play by themselves longer.
I also need to find good activities that I can do with my kids that also keep me entertained- and in writing this sentence, I remembered that I wrote a post about this– go me! We’ve been doing a good amount of coloring, lots of reading, and dabbling in board games for Nora during Charlie’s naps. We’ll see what else I come up with during these few weeks of not really leaving the house (except for the occasional nature walk?) If you’ve got other ideas of things to do with your kids that don’t involve being within six feet of other people- send them my way!
I Think it’s Time for Another Phone Fast
The third weekend of the break up with your phone challenge included a 24 hour phone fast. I kind of cheated and did it at a time that was convenient for me/ Tony had my phone in case I missed anything. I think I should probably do another true phone fast one of these days. In truth, we probably should all take the same day away from our phones as a society and just sit inside and do something else that brings us joy. But maybe that’s the introvert in me talking.
I found that taking that time away from my phone was both freeing and also shocking in how often I wanted to reach for my phone just as a distraction or as a time filler. I would like to give it another shot so that I can truly reset my brain, my mind, and my soul on the things that really matter and that are happening right in front of me. After the last few weeks of letting the anxiety of the world control me, I think it’s time to take a step away, even if it’s just for 24 hours.
Give Yourself Permission to Just Be
All of this being said, I think one of the biggest things I got out of my break up with your phone challenge was the permission to just let go and *be*. How often do we take the time to sit back and allow there to be quiet. I’m definitely not great at it. So maybe during this time of social distancing and anxiety inducing headlines, we can use the time to allow ourselves to be mindful, to feel what we need to feel, and then to move past it and just be. Allow yourself that quiet that your soul needs and don’t fill it up with all of the things that social media and the news are throwing at us right now. Or at least take a few moments away from it to recenter.
I hope that something in here will help you in this crazy time- as one of my friends texted me the other day- WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE! So here’s to a better relationship with my phone this week than last! (And hopefully a much lower average of hours on it per day.) Here’s to social distancing looking like an overreaction rather than coming too late. And here’s to not going too crazy with our kids bouncing off the walls with nowhere to go. All I know is my phone isn’t actually helping me get through the days, so it’s time to try other things that will.