Wednesday, March 29

How to use your phone to be a better parent

In 1991, I had a baby boy. In 1993, I had another baby boy. And in 1997, I had still another baby boy.

Baby boys are my favorite.

Before 1997, I never had a cell phone. But not long after I had that third baby, I had to drive halfway across the country with only my six-year-old, my four-year-old, and my newborn sons for company. After carefully considering the monthly cost, my husband and I decided that I should have a phone with me, just in case of emergency.

I remember that the monthly fee included 30 minutes of talking time. I vowed never to exceed that limit.

Things have changed a bit, haven't they?

Today, I have a cell phone, my husband has a cell phone, and all three sons have cell phones. We do still have a "home phone," but we rarely use it. It's difficult to imagine how we'd get along in the 21st century world without our smart phones.

And yet.

Today is my baby boy's 20th birthday.

Yes, things have changed a bit.

I was proud and excited when my eldest son turned 20. My babies were growing up! Double double digits!

I was a bit more hesitant when my middle son turned 20. Wasn't it all happening a little too quickly?

But today? My BABY is 20 years old? What on earth just happened? And how did it happen so fast?

I know, I know–young mothers don't want to be told to treasure the time with their little ones.

I usually keep my mouth shut, but on this day, there's one thing I wish I could tell my young mom friends. Just one piece of advice: the best way to use your phone.

Use it to take pictures.

At every age, every stage, take pictures of your kids. Print some of them out. You don't have to make show-stopping scrapbooks with them, or even organize them into albums. Just take the pictures, because the years are going to fly by much faster than you think.

And then, after you take those pictures?

Put down your phone.

I'm serious. Put it down. Turn it off if you have to.

One of the best things about having a smartphone, one of these incredible little hand-held computers, is that we have the ability to keep up with the outside world even when we're stuck in one place. What an amazing gift! Yet it comes with a side effect: fear of missing out. "FoMO" even has a dictionary definition now: "anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website."

The horribly ironic thing about the fear of missing out, of course, is that while we're busy being afraid that we might miss something exciting elsewhere, we actually ARE missing something right in front of us.

No, each event might not be exciting. Some are downright boring. Some are actually best forgotten.

But the events of our real lives and the lives of our loved ones are worth paying attention to. And by the time you scroll through Instagram or check the Facebook status of your friends, they'll have passed.

I'll never claim to be an expert mom. But I have learned one thing in two and a half decades of being a mother:

The days are long, but the years are short.

Put down your phone and enjoy them.


  1. This is a wonderful, wonderful post. I remember the same thing with the BAG PHONE which was all we had back in 1994. I got one to take a cross country trip with my two teenage girls. We put 6000 miles on the car and I think I only used the phone once to call someone when I could not find their house. It was an amazing feat to CALL SOMEONE FROM THE CAR!

    You are so right about missing what is right in front of us. I see it all the time- parents sitting in an ice cream shop while their kids are eating ice cream and they are on their cell phone completely missing those precious moments. Life is TOO short and childhood is gone before you know it. Sadly, you don't get a do-over with your kids.

    I hope you have a wonderful day and Happy, Happy Birthday to your 'baby'. xo Diana

  2. Well said, Richella! What a very needed message, especially in a day where we are all super caught up with our facebook, twitter, pintrest and instagram feeds. Even when I preach the same, at times I'm still guilty of it - of looking at my phone too much. It's a daily discipline, but a very necessary one. I love what you said about the days being long but the years being short. So true! I think I'll borrow that. :-) Here's a post (below) I wrote about the very same thing. I hope you get a chance to read it in your leisure.


  3. Wow... your boys almost look like triplets!! And I couldn't agree more- phones are best for pictures : ) Hopefully I can convince my boy to put his phone down too! He turns 21 in just a few short weeks. God bless you and yours Richella. Thanks for sharing your sweet wisdom as always!

  4. My Baby Boy will be 23 this year and I couldn't agree more!


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