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How Limiting Phone Time Gave Me Freedom

A pile of laundry waits to be folded, dishes sprinkle the kitchen counter from a chaotic breakfast, and my toddler is throwing a tantrum because I told her no more juice. Instantly, my hands grasp for my phone in it’s pink case.

Without even thinking, I open to Facebook and begin to scroll. The chaos ensues around me and then I see the article. You know the one. In fact, you may be thinking this is one of those articles.  The very well intended articles about how moms are too wrapped up in their phones.

Enter a truckload of guilt pouring over my already weary self. “I am such a bad mom,” the lies whisper to me. 

With a sigh, I put down the phone and promise myself that I am going to start limiting phone time.

With a hopeful heart, I start limiting phone time. Nevertheless, a few days later, I am right back where I started, justifying with little, “I get it but…” statements as to why I need to be on my phone.

I am just so tired.

The kids never give me a moment to myself.

Sometimes I just need to escape the chaos of the present moment.

Sound familiar?

Sadly, all these excuses did were prove to my weary soul more then ever the need to put down the phone. That little glowing rectangle had a greater hold on my life than I ever realized before.

Many times, I think when we read the articles about putting down our phones or having less screen time, the guilt overwhelms us. We put down our phones for a few days because we feel like we are bad moms if we look at our phones. Guilt consumes but eventually old habits creep back in, just as they did with me.

Those little trusted devices find themselves in our clutches again, screens glowing, fingers scrolling.

And then we see another article and feel the guilt. It is an endless cycle.

As I have thought more and more about this, I have realized something.

I am not a bad mom because I look at my phone. The problem lies in the reasons why I am going to my phone.

The majority of the time, the mindless scrolling was an empty effort to escape. I cringe as I write this, because of the ugly selfish truth that it is? However, I do not think I am alone in this.

We scroll to escape the screaming toddler, the mounds of laundry, the unfulfilling job, the struggling marriage, the pile of bills. We scroll to escape reality.

When I realized what was at the root of it all, I shrunk back from my phone. My phone had become my escape and that was never what I intended it to become, so I knew it was time for some serious changes. Changes for real, not just changes out of guilt but changes out of healing myself.

Limit phone time to gain freedom

So how do we go about truly changing and healing?

There are a few things that I have done that have been helpful.

Set Limits

It is good and healthy to have limits on things. We teach our kids to practice self-control, which is exactly what we need to do with phones. This is going to look differently for everyone. To give you some ideas, here is what I decided to do.

  • 6pm-8pm no phone time
  • Social Media Free Weekends
  • No Phone in Bed (I can read instead!)

Ask Myself Why

Anytime I get on my phone, I ask myself, “Why am I getting on here?” This has helped me to be intentional with my time. As a blogger, social media is an important part of my influence, so setting specific times to be on Instagram or Facebook has been helpful. If I am escaping to my phone, I can seek comfort in more intentional ways.

When life feels chaotic and out of control and I want to escape, I can do these things:

  • Take a deep breath
  • Pray
  • Turn on music
  • Remind yourself that you are a good mom (read through the mama affirmations printable- sign up at end of post)
  • Call/Text a friend (yes on your phone but in a good way)
  • Go outside

As I started to implement these changes, I realized I was rarely sitting and scrolling on my phone.  Instead, I was picking up a book to read, messaging a friend to check on them, playing with my kids, closing my eyes as the sun warmed my face. At times I even do get on to scroll, but with the right heart- not out of a need to escape reality. Don’t get me wrong, there are still moments when my fingers feel that desire to scroll mindlessly, and sometimes I do, but I am more aware of it all and able to redirect myself.

Gain freedom by limiting your phone time

Mamas, I know mothering is hard. We are not just moms. We wear many hats and handle countless situations every day. It is normal to want to escape and have a moment to ourselves. The question lies in, where do you want to be escaping to? Wouldn’t you rather make the choice that leads to freedom?

What about you? Do you struggle with this? Do you also believe in limiting phone time? Share below in the comments- I would love to hear your thoughts!

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12 Comments

  • Reply Emily

    I’m not a mama, but this is a challenge for me every day. Learning that I don’t need my Ipod to keep me happy has been SO GOOD. i can find fulfillment and contentment in Christ in every moment, and they don’t need to include the I-pod. Social media can be a HUGE blessing, but it has from time to time become an idol in my life, and this was that sort of an ‘ouch’ and ‘amen’ post that i needed to read as a reminder for the week. May my life this week reflect more of His glory and not escaping from life.

    February 27, 2017 at 12:33 pm
    • Reply Keri Snyder

      Emily, I love the words that you shared! So encouraging! Goodness, I know what you mean about it becoming an idol- all too quickly that can happen! Thank you for stopping by!

      March 1, 2017 at 1:37 am
  • Reply Crystal

    Keri Lynn, I was immediately drawn to your site because of your title!! I also write on intention, so I’m sure we are kindred spirits:) I’ve also had to be more intentional on limiting phone time, and it’s crazy how freeing it truly is. It’s also so easy to slip right back into the habit, so I’ve actually begun tucking it away just to keep it out of sight.

    February 27, 2017 at 2:44 pm
    • Reply Keri Snyder

      I love the idea of tucking it away to keep it out of sight! So smart! I keep mine on during the day because of the kids being at school and it is a process training myself not to respond to all the little "dings" that I hear!

      March 1, 2017 at 1:36 am
  • Reply Rebekah at The Tex-Mex Mom

    I really needed to read this! I’ve been doing exactly what you describe here: too much phone time, then feeling guilty and doing better for a day or two, then back to the old habits. Being a blogger I always make excuses that I’m doing blogging stuff but really that stuff can wait. I don’t want my kids to think my phone is more important and interesting than them. I like the 3 limits you came up with. I need to think through this a little more and come up with some of my own, but I definitely think I should implement the no phone in bed at night – I would definitely get more reading in that way which would be a big plus. 🙂

    February 28, 2017 at 10:03 pm
    • Reply Keri Snyder

      I do the exact same thing as a blogger, Rebekah! It is so easy to! I am definitely a work in progress with this, but the changes are helping a lot! Oh anytime my kids say, "mom put your phone down!" I just feel crushed and am instantly reminded of the importance of putting it down!

      March 1, 2017 at 1:35 am
  • Reply Heather

    These are great insights. I definetly need to put some more thought into this area.

    March 3, 2017 at 5:20 pm
  • Reply Brittney

    Great post! I didn’t think I was too bad with my phone, but the other night I sat down to watch a show without my phone and it felt completely weird to just focus on one thing! I am definitely going to be working on putting it down more.

    March 6, 2017 at 8:25 pm
  • Reply Michelle

    Yes, limiting phone time is a must for me too. I love the time set aside and being unplugged, the result is being plugged into my family and present…actually making eye contact 😉

    March 7, 2017 at 3:42 pm
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