Do you unlock your cell phone every 10 to 30 minutes? When you’re away from your phone, do you feel anxious? Do you experience problems concentrating when you’re on the cell phone? If you can honestly answer true to at least one of these questions, it’s possible that you could benefit from a cell phone hiatus. I’m not innocent of being glued to the cell phone—spending time texting, surfing timelines, playing games and etc. are all pretty harmless and fun. Still, if it’s a dependency, the distraction that it causes is something seriously worth looking into. So how do you know if what you think is casual cell phone use is actually displaying addictive behavior that can possibly be setting your parenting priorities on the back burner?
Signs of cell phone addiction
It seems that studies may just be catching up on our attachment concerns in the past couple of years. You can find a plethora of articles on the topic. Before, teenage addictions was the hot topic, but now, it seems parents are just as guilty of missing out from swiping away at their smartphones. You’ve seen instances when mothers in public were on the cell phone while the child wasn’t their center focus; it happens and there are sure signs of addiction. The symptoms of dependency are increased use, inability to cut back, engaging in behavior despite risks of negative consequences—even slightly ignoring children or your own safety. In the news a while ago, a woman fell into a manhole while walking down the street on her cell phone. Similar to her story, if excessive phone use is a definite distraction as it was for her, chances are the cell phone is the root of other hindrances i.e. lateness, delaying priorities, lack of eating, isolation, or sleep deprivation, studies show. As parents, every bit of energy counts. When we are deprived of our needs, it shows in our attitudes and triggers consequential behaviors.
One study in the Journal of Pediatrics proved that adults absorbed in their mobile phones ignore their kids or may even lash out on them. Out of 55 parents at a restaurant, 44 were absorbed in their devices at different rates. Some children responded by entertaining themselves, and others acted out for attention. The caregivers either separated or shared the devices. But the absorbed parents responded harshly to child misbehavior.
When asking a State worker who has worked heavily with social services in Perth Amboy, NJ, she admitted to seeing some parent and adults display abuse patterns with their cell phone and act inattentively when handling business. “It’s definitely an obsession,” she added.
To test the theory, I sparked my challenge of completely cutting usage for three days and noted the results in my journal. The first night was peaceful—parent/child interaction was more intimate. My concentration was fervent and in the present. Day two and three were a little more challenging. I was irritable and had the urge to turn on my phone. I found out that I could use a little more cutting down when engaging in parent/child activities.
Why are we so dependent?
In the smart phone era, many get their entertainment and companionship from cell phones while in-person, face-to-face interaction has decreased. When the phone alerts, it can mean intriguing information is available. Pay attention to your feelings when hearing an alert on your phone. What do you feel? Is it anxious, happy, or annoyed? The phone triggers different feelings from positive and negative interactions with the outside world, which form an addiction or emotional attachment. Some continue to look for information that spark the pleasurable feeling that they crave.
Cutting your usage
Phone apps are designed to control cell phone use. Breaking Free app is a useful one. If you’re looking to cut your cell phone use, keep busy, find hobbies, and spend time with friends and children without the cell phone in hand. Tune in to the present and learn to enjoy the experience. Simply put, turn it off! As you become comfortable, try leaving the phone at home when you go out—you will see how much you will enjoy yourself. Lastly, set a limit for the day and cut off all alerts after you’ve reached your daily limit.
While stepping out on my backyard deck yesterday, I noticed one thing. It was quiet. I mean there was no other noise besides the trees swaying and the sound of a few cars driving by from holiday traveling. The moment reminded me of one of my grandmother’s “southern gal” expressions that always brought me to tears of laughter. “It’s quieter than a mouse pissing on cotton,” she would say. It was that way since my 6-year-old son A.J went to Balmar Beach with a cousin for the Fourth of July weekend. He does go out with family sometimes, but I forgot how it feels to get a ton of things accomplished without him. I began to think about all the activities I use to engage my son when multitasking to get through the day. My next task was listing them and finding more options. Here is what I came up with.
These ideas aren’t drenched in novelty but they work. Bedtime was comical when my son was one; at least it was for him. He’d seem to be sleeping but as soon as I closed my eyes, he’d pull a fast one. By hearing his giggles and watching him stare up with big playful eyes, one would think any mom would be putty in his hands. However, at 1 am in the morning, most mothers are resistant to the cute cuddly baby bit. We want to sleep! My family and I discovered a trick, which never failed to send A.J soaring into a slumber. It was listening to music — not just any kind of music but Jazz and Rhythm & Blues. Before reaching the middle of the song, A Very Precious Time by Jazz Artist and Poet Gil-Scott Heron, A.J’s eyes became heavy as lead. I guess he couldn’t fight the slow melancholy tune. It was either that or boredom. Now, A.J stays heavily involved in the sport of the season. Usually during those months, his sleeping patterns aren’t as bad. If he gets restless before bed, we play games on my phone from the Android apps on Google Play, such as Hangman and Tic Tac Toe, until he goes to sleep. The extra time allows me to do little chores around the room.
Achieving weight-loss and maintaining a routine workout is another challenge. My goal is to lose 30 lbs, and lately, I’ve tried to balance an effective workout routine with A.J. Exercising at 5:30 am to Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred, which is an intense and convenient cardio workout, can be done in 20 minutes. Given that I’m not a morning person, I chose another avenue. I have learned to include A.J in my workout routines. I go to the park and jog on my own, but when I can’t, we’ve worked out with cd’s or with short workouts On Demand. I’ve even created a military-like setting using crates and hula hoops (instead of tires) planted sturdily in the backyard soil. A.J leaps on the crate and catches the ball that I throw to him, then drops down. He does this repeatedly until we change roles. Trainers also use the same “Box Jump Drills” for toning, improving power, and reflex development. Another kid-friendly workout is bike riding or running along side your child while he or she rides. Why not challenge them to a race? Kids are competitive by nature.
A fun tip written in a study by Indiana University mentioned that a simple way to include a variety of basic motor development skills for younger kids is to create an obstacle course.
“The children can go through, in, over and under obstacles; throw balls at a target, and jump over a rope or crawl under a rope (if they are in a wheel chair). Some equipment to use for basic motor skills are air mattresses, cones, mobiles, balance beams, balloons, balls, bean bags, hoops, mirrors, rattles, ropes, targets, tires, and tunnels.”
Incorporating fitness and thinking games into activities while parents complete other tasks not only helps to engage children but also develops their cognitive and motor skills. In the same study, it stated that movement is one of the most important aspects of a young child’s life including children with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities.
Balancing life-tasks doesn’t have to be overwhelming but fun and conducive to child development. A few simple ideas can go a long way in keeping them engaged because they’re always eager to learn and explore.
Shortly after graduating college, pursuing my career was no longer my first priority. I was preparing for the full-time job of becoming a mom for the months ahead of me. What an enormous responsibility for a single, young aspiring journalist!
High school English teacher and mom Eileen Riley-Hall co’ taught autistic children in college summer camp and has worked with special needs students for over 25 years. However, she had never suspected her own daughters’ diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Many are outraged as the heart-rending death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin has touched viewers nationally. Friday evening, Sanford, Florida police released seven 911 recordings of calls made by Martin’s shooter, George Zimmerman, and frantic neighbors in the area the night of the shooting. The tapes expose some truth to the Martin case, after an ongoing dispute over whether Martin was killed in self-defense.
It’s incredibly easy to hold a grudge in such trying times like these: almost half of marriages end in divorce, mass layoffs last year compelled workers to cling to their jobs, and so on. Dating is even harder than ever these days. When transferring baggage from one relationship to another, often times, we find ourselves in a battle for our feelings. Anything can trigger resentment—no matter how well some are at hiding it—the truth is everyone has a distinct story to share about their own sensitive pasts. For those who do, masking unforgiveness as a replacement for handling it appropriately is very unhealthy studies show, and bitterness is commonly the resultant emotion.
Redshirting: does it work? Education professionals share their views on keeping children back from kindergarten
At one point, if parents so much as thought that their child would be held back in school, it wouldn’t have been a pretty picture. Apparently, the idea of holding children back has expanded in meaning over the years and has become an increasingly popular trend for parents of preschool aged children who prefer them to be the oldest in their classes–This term for this is redshirting.
“How simple a thing it seems to me that to know ourselves as we are, we must know our mother’s names.” ~ Alice Walker.
When Author Alice Walker wrote this statement as part of an essay, Search of Our Mother’s Garden, she was referring to the act of identifying ourselves by learning who our biological mothers and grandmothers are. This serves true in knowing about your past as a woman as well.
The political debate between the Obama Administration and the Catholic Church on the contraception mandate, requiring employers to provide healthcare that includes free contraception is an argument that I’ve hesitated to touch on given the sensitivity of this issue.
First Lady Michelle Obama writes, special to CNN, about the progress that she’s seen since the launch of her nationwide initiative, Let’s Move last year. It was designed to end America’s childhood obesity epidemic that affects nearly one in three of our children.