parents……put down your phones!

Why put your phone away?

Our babies see us using our devices. Its plain and simple folks: they know when our energy is taken away from them. In moments where connection could be building their confidence, their immunity, their sense of self worth in their first months of life, some of us choose to disconnect to the moment right in front of us and connect to the cyber world instead. During breastfeeding, or lulling or rocking them asleep, or walking with them either snuggled in a baby wrap or in the stroller. They FEEL everything. They know when we disconnect.

You know when you have a conversation with a person and then they go and they get up to check their phone mid-sentence, how does that make you feel? Like a priority? Not really right. Well just because these babies are smaller humans, doesn’t mean that they don’t feel shoved down on the priority list. Doesn’t mean they don’t learn fast that there is something more important and pressing then connecting and looking into their eyes while feeding, THESE are the moments that cultivate love.

I get tired of false connection. I get sad when I see a family out and everyone is on their devices. I am devastated that so many babies are now seeing their parents distracted and unavailable because their eyes are constantly glued to their smart phones. What’s even more tragic about this is that we are teaching our young babies that these rectangular things are important, and that they will absolutely need one in order to survive as a species.

Catherine Steiner a clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard, a school consultant, and a therapist in private practice interviewed a thousand children between the ages of 4 and 18 to see the impact of screen time on their lives. And what she says is “parents’ obsession with their devices is harming communication with their children and even fracturing families.” Read her article in the Huffington Post here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/04/ways-screens-are-ruining-your-familys-life_n_3860927.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref&comm_crv

The more we use them, the more we are sacrificing getting to know our children. We HAVE to remember, yes folks, there’s a have to here: we HAVE to remember this. Babies speak to us through their sounds AND body language. If our eyes are fixed on the screens in front of us we do not get to read their cues and therefore don’t fulfill their needs. So keep an eye out for it folks. Be bold, disconnect from the web and connect to your child. Let them know they are most important. Let them FEEL they are the priority.

If we do this we will have children that are less demanding, more confident, secure and happy in them selves. They will feel loved, the will feel important, and they will feel worthy of attention and love. Don’t be fooled in saying mere words to your child like “I love you”. Action as always speaks volumes and more then words. Show them they are your world; let them feel they are your heart. Be solid for them, be in the world.

I am not saying get rid of your device, just be smart with using it. I am not actually dogging the devices themselves. I have one and have captured many a sweet sound from my daughter as she grows, taken many candid photos and am really glad I have them. I use it. I am however speaking to our addiction to these screens in lieu of creating relationship. I write this not because I am perfect, of course, I have been guilty of it too. But I make a new conviction to have better boundaries because, honestly, I am over it.

Check in with yourself, do you check facebook every time you pick up your phone? Do you need to check your email 20 times a day? What’s drawing you out of the present moment? I text, I check my email, I call people….and i try to do it consciously, usually when my daughter is sleeping or playing. Because I have noticed that my baby, only months old, is already intrigued with it. And my wish is that she is enchanted with our natural world instead, with the little things around her rather then a piece of plastic that disconnects us from the beauty all around us.

Teach them how to be interactive in THIS world of earth, water, fire, air and ether. Connect to the elements with them, play in the dirt, pick up the worms and examine them. Smell the flowers and hunt acorns together. Be fascinated with what is around you with them; be curious and wide-eyed with how things unfold in nature. Get dirty with them, put your hands in the soil (and help them increase healthy bacteria in their gut at the same time, yes). Help them recognize the changes in nature so they can connect to the seasons and the smells and senses that come at that time. There is magic here and we are fools if we don’t take this opportunity ourselves to dive into this enchanted world of nature and transformation with our children.

Experiment, what if you put down your phone for one day. Dare to turn it off. What if you went to a park, or visited a farm, or went for a walk in the woods? What if you looked at the leaves, reveled in the changing colors, listened to them beneath your feet? What if YOU explored life through your child’s eyes and not your phone.

Do not be fooled by facebook updates or your news feed. Nothing, let me repeat that, NOTHING is more important then to love our children in each moment. Our job is to bring up confident human beings so that they may live their life to the fullest, right? So they may follow their dreams and live big. I want my child to know they can do anything, that there are no limits, that they are loved and supported beyond measure to take the leap and fly. I want my 5-month-old daughter to know she can rely on me to be there for her. I want her to know that when she needs me, both shoulders are ready, always, for her. That I will stand up for her, I will honor her, and I will always put everything aside to listen fully to her, to open my heart so I can listen to hers.

AND I know this is not easy for many of us out there who have been sucked into “staying connected”. So what if you just set some boundaries around technology? What if you first of all figured out YOUR family values; what do you value about family time? What is important for your child to learn about family, about being in your family, about your family rituals or daily routines? What do you want your child to remember in 20 years time about home life and time together? That you never connected, partly connected OR that you made time specifically to connect device free?

Play with having ‘device time’ yourself, let this be something for all the family and not just the children. Write down what you think would be reasonable for you. EG check emails once, twice or three times daily? Ask yourself, how many times is reasonable to check facebook in a day? And post in on your fridge or a cupboard to remind you. And be conscious of when you pick up the phone outside of these times. Or wkhat about having a place for your phone in your home so it doesn’t travel with you to every room you enter. Remember those days where we had stationary phones! Just be conscious is what I’m getting at. Just know we are our children’s first teachers, and if we teach them by example to connect with our hearts, to give attention fully, to listen openly and undistracted, they will grow to be balanced adults.

What if there were no devices at the dining table and a family talked and shared about their day instead? What if our child knew they were the priority? What if we snuggled our partner in the mornings instead of checking our phone? What if our teens looked up at the world instead of down at their phones, what if they talked instead of sending copious amounts of texts? What if we taught them to do this?

Help make this world a brighter, more alive, interactive and balanced place. Leave the phones, the pads aside. Teach your child simplicity. Be bold, disconnect from the web, connect to your child, and connect to your physical world fully instead. And most of all ENJOY the magic and aliveness that comes with it!

resources:

~http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3860927utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref&comm_crv

~Simplicity Parenting: by Kim John Payne

~Caring For Children With Respect: by Magda Gerner

~You are your child’s First Teacher: by Rahima Baldwin Dancy

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