We’ve all seen the mom or dad at the playground, sitting on the bench, barely looking up between fervent fingers tapping the screen. When their child yells, “Look, look, look what I can do!” and a mumble comes from the down-turned head, “Yeah, sweetie,” *scroll, scroll* “That’s great” *scroll, scroll, scroll.* I’ve seen it at the grocery store, The phone call where the latest drama is unfolding and adult conversation is heard not only two aisles away, but by the little ears who belong to the little human sitting in the cart. I’ve seen it at school when the bell rings and the kids come rushing out to greet their parents, only to receive a pat on the head and a finger signing “hold on, I’m on the phone.” My children don’t go to daycare, but I’ve heard from former daycare providers, that parents come to pick up their kids after being away from them for hours and can’t hang up the phone.

I’ve seen them and I’ve been them.

Believe me, I totally get it. We could argue, “But the kids need to know life doesn’t revolve around them” and sometimes the phone call really is important or when you’re at the park it’s the 20 minutes you’ve had all day to yourself and the kids are entertained, why shouldn’t you be? I’ve been there, believe me. But when a relationship with an inanimate object comes in between the face-to-face relationship playing out in real life, then there’s a real problem.

I truly believe there is an epidemic and its technology overload which leads to over-connectedness, but also, ironically, leads to lack of personal connection altogether. For some reason, there’s an innate drive that’s been fostered inside us that we just can’t live without technology, mainly our phones. This concept is trickling down to our kids who get the idea that mom or dad’s phone is more important than me, what I’m doing or what I’m saying. We can understand how our kids probably feel all the time if we put ourselves in their shoes. We all have that friend who invites us to coffee and right when we sit down and start spilling the latest drama, she keeps better eye contact with her phone than with us. It’s incredibly irritating, not to mention downright rude. How is this any different with our kids?

I’ve said this before, but if you think I’m throwing stones, don’t. I’ve dropped them at the beginning of this post, because I’m just as guilty. It’s almost become second nature to constantly check my phone and I don’t even realize I’m doing it, but this year for me personally, has been focused on two concepts: intention and presence, not only with my children, but with myself. It’s been too long that technology has been stealing our time, something we almost give up willingly to being constantly connected. But it’s time for a wake-up call. It’s time to get off the dang phone and engage in real-life with our kids!

For me, it all comes down to asking myself these two questions: Am I being intentional with my time? Am I being present? I’ve been applying these things to my own life and I’ve already noticed a big difference with my relationship with my kids (5, 5, and 3). When we are intentional about our time, for example, going to pick up the kids at daycare or school, turn the phone off or leave it in the car (*gasp* I know, it’s rough). When you’ve planned a game night or movie night with the family, leave the phones in the bedroom. What about an emergency call?! Yes, those do happen, but 99% of the time there’s no emergency and, no, an emergency is not checking Facebook three times in 4 minutes to see what changed in your newsfeed. And in the car, for me, the phone is in the passenger seat in my purse. I don’t look at it while I am driving and lately, after school pickup, turning the radio off has proven successful in engaging in meaningful conversations with the kids. At the playground, leave the phone in the car. I don’t play with my kids every second while I’m at the playground. Let’s get real, I’m a single mom and need a break too sometimes, but I’ve learned just sitting in quiet, just watching the kids play and absorbing what’s around me instead of letting technology absorb me—it’s refreshing.

This isn’t meant to be a guilt-trip post, but instead it’s about realizing the time you have with the people who are impacted the most by your presence is to be valued and protected from the time suck that comes in a neat little rectangular package with a glass screen.

“Love people, use things. The opposite never works.” -The Minimalists

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Nicole Hastings

Nicole is a is a widowed mom to three children. With a background in journalism and a sudden need to “figure out what to do,” she turned to writing about her experience with a husband with cancer, caregiving and widowed parenting and overcoming the aloneness of all of the above. She believes the art of storytelling brings people out of the dark into the light together to share in joy, humor, suffering and pain in life. She hopes that by sharing her story with transparency and heart will bring others hope and empower them to share their own stories.
Facebook: @JustAMomNicoleHastings

To the Extended Family That Shows Up: We Couldn’t Do This Without You

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Family visiting new baby in a hospital room

This picture—my heart all but bursts every time I see it.  It was taken five years ago on the day our daughter was born. In it, my husband is giving her her very first bath while our proud extended family looks on. It was a sweet moment on a hugely special day, but gosh–what was captured in this photo is so much more than that. This photo represents everything I could have ever hoped for my kids: That they would have an extended family who shows up in their lives and loves them so deeply.  That they would have grandparents,...

Keep Reading

You’re Almost Grown, But You’re Always Welcome Back Home

In: Kids, Motherhood
Teen in room studying with computer and smartphone

Dear child, In the days before you could walk or talk, there were times when you would wail—when my rocking and shushing and bouncing were seemingly futile—but it didn’t matter. Each day and night, multiple times, I always picked you up and welcomed you back into my arms. As a toddler and a preschooler, you had some pretty epic meltdowns. There were times when you would thrash and scream, and all I could do was stand by and wait for the storm to blow over. Eventually, you would run to me, and I would welcome you back with a warm embrace....

Keep Reading

No One Warned Me About the Last Baby

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding newborn baby, black-and-white photo

No one warned me about the last baby. When I had my first, my second, and my third, those first years were blurry from sleep deprivation and chaos from juggling multiple itty-bitties. But the last baby? There’s a desperation in that newborn fog to soak it up because there won’t be another. No one warned me about the last baby. Selling the baby swing and donating old toys because we wouldn’t need them crushed me. I cried selling our double jogger and thought my heart would split in two when I dropped off newborn clothes. Throwing out pacifiers and bottles...

Keep Reading

Parents Are Terrible Salespeople for Parenting

In: Kids, Motherhood
Tired mother with coffee cup on table, child sitting next to her

As the years of fertility start to wane, many of my childless peers are confronted with the question, “Should I have kids?” With hesitation, they turn to us parents who, frankly, seem overwhelmingly unhappy. They ask sheepishly, “Is it worth it?” We lift our heads up, bedraggled, bags under our eyes, covered in boogers and sweat and spit up, we mutter, “Of course! It’s so fulfilling!” It’s like asking a hostage if they like their captor. Sure, it’s great. We love them. But our eyes are begging for liberation. Save me, please. I haven’t slept through the night in years....

Keep Reading

Soak in the Moments because Babies Don’t Keep

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Roller coaster photo, color photo

I love marking the moments, the ones that count—making a note and storing them for memory. But I often miss out on them when it comes to our oldest. ⁣ ⁣The day he wanted to be baptized, I was at home with another kiddo who was sick. He called me from church excitedly, emphasizing he was ready and didn’t want to wait. I couldn’t argue with that, so I watched him go underwater through videos my husband and sweet friends in the congregation took. ⁣ ⁣On the day of his fifth-grade graduation, we found ourselves at the pediatrician’s office. Instead...

Keep Reading

Sometimes a Kid Just Needs a Sick Day

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy outside, color photo

My middle son stayed home from school today. He said he was sick. I’m not sure that is the truth. I was lucky enough to have a mom who was an amazing caretaker, especially when you were sick. She pulled out all the stops. A cozy clean space to be, a thermos with ice cold juice by your side, Mrs. Grass’s soup, and Days of Our Lives on the screen while she tidied up the house. It was the best feeling in the world to be home and cozy with my mom when I was sick. It felt cozy and...

Keep Reading

Sometimes We Need Someone to Just Sit With Us in Our Struggle

In: Kids, Motherhood
Sad woman sits on floor, black and white image

Early this morning, I told (yelled is more accurate) my sons to get up with the same furious ferocity I use every morning when I realize they should be ready to go, but are still unconsciously snoozing away. One son lazily said, “I’m up, Mom” (even though he was very much not up). The other son, who typically has no problems getting up, had overslept and immediately freaked out, thinking he would be late to school. He proceeded to have a mini-meltdown from the dark recesses of his bedroom. That overflowed into the hallway where I found him lying face-down,...

Keep Reading

Daughter of Mine, Do Not Let the World Extinguish Your Fire

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young daughter, color photo

Daughter of mine, I see the fire behind your eyes. Do not let it die. Daughter of mine who runs wildly and loves freely and whose anger is always whipping silently just under the surface like a pilot light, ready to ignite with one tiny spark. Do not let it die. RELATED: There is Wild Beauty in This Spirited Child of Mine Daughter of mine, one day you will become a woman, and the world will try to steal you and mold you and tell you who to become. Do not let it. It will try to fit you in...

Keep Reading

God Chose Me to Be the Mother of a Wild One

In: Kids, Motherhood
Woman holding child on the beach, black-and-white photo

It was just another typical fall morning. There was a time change so you were a little extra sleepy (also known as grouchy) but nothing too out of the ordinary. In a split second, that all changed, and the reality of what it is like to live with an unbelievably relentless little human set in like never before. I sat on your bedroom floor, laundry scattered all around, and literally watched my tears fall to the ground. I was on my knees. Physically on my knees just begging you to stop or begging God to give me patience. I don’t...

Keep Reading

I’m Raising a Fearless Daughter

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little girl on playground

Imagine you are at the playground with your kid(s), and you look over to see someone else’s kid launching themselves off the tallest tower on the entire playground. You feel your heart stop for a second, you suck in a sharp breath. You think to yourself, or maybe you even say it out loud, “Oh my gosh!” That kid—the one who is always finding the most dangerous way to do literally everything? That’s my kid. Truthfully, that’s both my kids, my youngest just isn’t tall enough to join in on the real danger yet. RELATED: Raising a Wild Child Is...

Keep Reading