Why you should put your phone down around kids

Our babies are growing but we are busy scrolling on our smartphones

In Summary

• Spending more time on the phone is a guilty pleasure when raising children 

Boy walks away from distracted mother
Boy walks away from distracted mother

A few years ago, there was news of a protest by children in Hamburg, Germany. The children were protesting their parents' addiction to their smartphones, which made them feel alienated from their parents. As a non-parent at the time, I couldn't wrap my head around the idea that parents would spend more time on their phones than with their children.

Yet here I am, guilty of the same. You see when babies are born and they are still young and sleep a lot, you develop certain habits as a parent because ‘babies are easier’. Then these little tiny humans who slept for most of the day start growing and becoming curious as they develop into their own persons. However, as soon as they grow, they start needing us to be more attentive to them, which means we have to unlearn all our bad habits.

My particular bad habit was using breastfeeding time as my time to catch up with the world through the smartphone. Be it television, streaming, social networks or chatting, my time to be on the phone was always the time I fed or put my baby to sleep. This particular habit has been the hardest for me to undo as it still serves as my primary time to catch up with whatever is going on in the world.

You see, when the child is awake and playing, it is hard to be on your phone as you always have to keep your eyes on them. When the baby is asleep, my job is to run around like a maniac, trying to catch up with housework. So the only time I have to be on my phone is when I am breastfeeding him.

However, every time I peek behind the phone to see if he is asleep yet, I stare into these cute innocent eyes blinking blankly at the brick of a phone that has taken his mother's attention away from him. I am immediately ridden with the guilt and shame of not putting this bonding time to good use.

Our bedtime routine is pretty simple, and while I discourage any activity after saying goodnight, we do spend most of the time in silence until he drifts off to sleep. Sometimes, the time it takes for him to fall asleep is long, and I fall back into my old habit of watching my phone (on mute) until he sleeps.

I want him to know better and do better from my examples. I have recently found him being completely spaced out when he watches his baby shows, and I do not like it. I realised that he is picking up these cues from us. As such, I have actively decided to put my phone down whenever we are together, be it at bed time or any other time of the day. I realised that if I do not put this phone down whenever I am spending quality time with him, then one day, I will look behind the phone and not recognise the eyes that are staring back at me.

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