Why You Need To Disconnect To Reconnect
The morning sun pours through the double-pane windows in your breakfast nook, enveloped by the bronze floor-length curtains tied back just so on either side of the antique wooden high chair that’s been passed down four generations. It sits proud and prominent in the center of this picturesque shot. And in it is your perfect little “mini me,” golden hair tousled wildly, little piggy toes peaking out from wrinkled pajamas and apple puree smeared across her cheeks and nose. You Instagram this perfect image, hashtagging it:
Before you set your phone down, you check to see if anyone “liked” it yet. Meanwhile, your perfect little girl has splattered her puree all over your bronze curtains. The dog is crying by his empty food bowl. And you have exactly 47 outtakes of this moment from your beautiful life in your photo library.
You let out a loud disgruntled sigh, toss your phone onto the counter, grab your now crying baby out of her high chair and set her on the floor while you quickly clean up the kitchen. You snap a few photos of her attempting to crawl in between wiping down the curtains and scrolling through Facebook. A few minutes later you pick her up and carry her to the couch to try to nurse her to sleep. As soon as she finds a comfortable latch, you pull out your phone and open Instagram. 6 likes. Not bad. You play around with a few filters on the pictures you took of her crawling attempts and post one or two, commenting on how proud you are of your little princess. She starts to fuss – her little hands reaching for your phone – so you extend your arm a bit so it’s out of reach as she continues to nurse.
As the day goes on, you continue to check your “likes” and post random photos of you and your baby. When your husband comes home, you make dinner, posting a pic or two of your Pinterest-worthy creation. After you get the baby to bed, you settle down together on the couch to relax for the evening. You snap a picture of the two of you and immediately post it. The caption reads:
Movie and popcorn night! Snuggling with my honey after a long day.
In reality, your evening looks like this:
The two of you sit in the dark as the movie plays and he’s checking the scores of the games and you checking your “likes” on Instagram. This scenario is far too familiar in this day and age. While smart phones can be extremely beneficial in connecting people with peers, loved ones, colleagues and networks all over the world, they are beginning to contradict the very benefits they were created for.
How Your Smart Phone Is Negatively Affecting
Your Life and Relationships:
- It prevents you from truly living in the moment.
- It puts pressure on you to create and display unrealistic “perfect moments”on social media.
- It acts as a distraction from being fully engaged with your children.
- It distracts you from forming a bond with your baby while breastfeeding.
- It acts as an instant gratification, not allowing you to be bored or alone with your thoughts or to take in your surroundings.
- It is a social crutch, prevention you from fully engaging in and enjoying situations and people around you.
- It gives those around you unrealistic expectations of your life, thus creating unrealistic goals for theirs.
Tips To Reconnect
- It’s easy to get so caught up in creating the perfect moment to post on your social media sites, that you might actually be withdrawing yourself from the moment you’re trying to capture. Live in the moment. Feel it. See it. Taste it. Hear it. Then take a photo. Your memories are your greatest treasures. Create them with great care.
- Sometimes you might find yourself in a situation that is just too funny, awesome, adorable not to share. But something just isn’t quite right. You snap a photo of your child sleeping on your chest, but upon viewing the photo you realize your bra strap is showing or your hair is in your face. So you spend time and energy adjusting everything *just so* to create the perfect image, and your baby wakes up before you can snap the picture. If you have to stage it, you’ve lost the beauty of the moment. Take pictures of the real moments in your life – imperfections and all. They are truly more beautiful than the staged ones. You will want to remember these moments as they are. Raw. Real. Beautiful.
- When they say childhood goes by in the blink of an eye, they really do mean it. The time you have with your children while they are little is extremely limited in the grand scheme of things. While it’s important to take photos and videos of them now, it’s more important to spend time with them – fully engaged.
- Your children need to know that they are your priority. They learn from what they see. By constantly having your phone in your hands while you are playing with them, you are teaching them to prioritize the wrong things in their own lives. You are also missing out on the opportunity to teach them how to properly interact, make eye contact and engage with people in real life social settings.
- While you’re breastfeeding your baby, it might seem like a convenient time to scroll through Facebook and Instagram on your phone, but don’t overlook the importance of bonding with your baby during this time. Watch for her cues – does she reach for your hand while she’s nursing? Does she look up at your face and try to make a connection with you? Do you often times find yourself pushing her hands away and holding your phone just out of her reach so that you can still scroll through your feeds without her interfering? Breastfeeding can create an extremely powerful bond between a woman and her child. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to have these quiet, intimate moments together. Don’t take them for granted.
- How often do you find yourself habitually reaching into your pocket for your phone when you’re in a long line at the grocery store, sitting on the bench at the playground or even going to the bathroom? It seems that people today are afraid to be alone with their thoughts, can’t stand being bored for a minute or two, or feel the constant need to multitask. Constantly relying on your smart phone as a source of entertainment every single moment of your downtime can actually hinder your productivity and creative thinking. The next time you’re standing in a line or sitting on a bench at the park, put your phone away and give yourself a moment to just be – to think – to take in your surroundings.
- How many times have you been out to dinner with friends, each one of you sitting at the table staring at your phones the entire time? If you walked past a table of strangers and saw this, what would you think? It would appear that their priorities are not with the people they are with. They are so completely caught up in the fear of missing something in their social cyber world, that they are missing what’s going on around them in their actual world. When you do this, it not only sends the message to your present company that you would rather be somewhere else, it’s also creating a social crutch. When you rely on your phone to entertain you and fill in the silent gaps in your life so much, you might actually begin to find it difficult to carry on a conversation throughout the duration of a dinner. When was the last time you had a phone-free dinner or girl’s day out? Try it! Without your phone as a distraction, you will be free to fully engage in your conversations, take in your surroundings and enjoy your company.
- With 24/7 access to your friends’ lives through social media on your smart phone, you might also find yourself feeling pressured to present the perfect life via your own media pages. Remember that “perfect breakfast” with your little one that was, in reality, anything but perfect? By trying to create a beautiful, perfect life via social media, you are setting unrealistic standards and expectations for not only your own relationships, but your friends’ as well.
Life really is beautiful. But the most beautiful moments are those that you cannot create.
The sound of laughter as a child jumps into his father’s arms when he walks through the door at the end of the day
A baby’s sweet coos as her mama nurses her to sleep by the moonlit window in the wee hours of the night
A walk down the street, hand in hand, on a beautiful warm summer evening
A lunch date with your mother
Taking that first bite of slice of warm apple pie
These are the moments that happen when you’re fully engaged in your life.
How To Find Beauty In Daily Life
Photo credits: Lauren Hardy and With A Red Bird On My Shoulder
Danielle is a Pittsburgh native who has been warming her “black and gold” blood in sunny Northern California for the past 6 years. On any given day, you can find her arranging ridiculous photo shoots of her one-year-old son Graeme and cat Gizmo, or working on any one of her 27,000 writing projects. She enjoys daydreaming about becoming a famous actress and starting a handful of different businesses with her husband over glasses of wine in the evenings. Someday, she hopes to travel the country in an RV with her family… but she needs to sell that novel first. You can follow her journeys through her blog With A Red Bird On My Shoulder