My 3-Year-Old Called Me Out on My iPhone Addiction

A couple of years ago, my husband bought me an iPhone for Christmas. According to him, it was the biggest mistake of his life. Okay, a little dramatic, but the truth is, his thoughtful gift created a monster. I'm addicted to the thing. I am. At any given moment, you'll find me playing Candy Crush, checking Facebook, counting calories, or even looking up the weather for the week…in Southern California…where it's always 72 degrees.  

I'm not sure when my idle scrolling became a full-blown addiction. Probably it was back before my boys were crawling and would just lie on a blanket, swatting at hanging bird toys. Or when they would just roll plastic balls back and forth across the room. Or when they realized that they could spend an hour getting in and out of a giant diaper box. You see where I'm going with this? Staring at your happily playing babies can sometimes get tedious.

And the iPhone is a handy distraction. When they're busy with toys or watching a show, I can read some blogs, see photos on Instagram, or check in with a friend. I can even send work emails or jot down notes for an article.

While it's important for a stay-at-home/work-from-home mom to be able to multi-task, I'm also missing out on a ton. One of my almost 3-year-old twins has been saying, "Big Backabobo!" for months. I had no clue what it meant, but he's been making up words since he first started talking, so I assumed it was more gibberish. Then, recently, I was actually watching Doc McStuffins with them when one of the characters referenced her, "Big Book of Booboos." Aha! Maybe if I'd been engaged in what my boys were doing, instead of having my face in the phone, I would have figured this out already.

It's bad, but I don't think I realized just how bad it was until his twin brother called me out on it. A few weeks ago, I was sitting on the floor doing a puzzle with him. He seemed to be doing just fine without my help, so I decided to play just one game of Candy Crush…which then became another and another. My little guy was asking where one of the pieces was and, without looking up, I said that I didn't know. He then asked me to help him find it and I told him, "Just one sec, bub, one sec." Well, with his heightened toddler emotions and limited toddler vocabulary, he let me have it. "Put phone down, Mommy, put phone down!" Wow. It was like a punch to the gut. The shame.

I mean, it's what my husband has been telling me for a while, but now my boys were telling me too. I'm choosing the phone over all of them. And now, my kids are at an age where they notice. They notice that I'm not paying attention. They notice when I'd rather play on my phone than play with them. It's crappy. Like a true addict, my iPhone abuse is hurting my family. I've read the blogs about going hands-free and the studies on the stress levels of smartphone users and I want to be better.

So, I'm trying. I'll put the phone away when I'm hanging out with my husband, especially when my incessant swiping and tapping is particularly annoying. When I'm playing with the boys, I'll often put the phone in another room so I'm not tempted to peek. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Unfortunately, after we've finished building a giant Lego tower, done some chalk drawings, and have pushed trucks around the floor for a while, I start to get itchy. Did I hear a text message? What if I have an urgent work-related email? Oh, I need to add bananas to our grocery list before I forget. I should see if there's an innovative new quinoa recipe on Pinterest.

Honestly, it seems like I'm not capable of being totally hands-free around my kids. I don't know too many moms who are. Still, it's not an excuse. So I'm going to keep limiting my iPhone use when I'm around my kids, except maybe when they're watching a mind-numbing show. More important, I'm going to be present for them when they need me to be present, and make sure they know that they are my top priority. My kids should never ever have to beg me to put the phone down.