5 Great tips to reduce phone usage as a parent

I find, as a parent, I get lost in my phone. I spent an entire weekend working on how to reduce my phone usage and noticed a huge difference in my parenting.

text: how to reduce phone usage as a parent to be more present and less annoyed. Photo of African American women looking at a smart phone.

As adults, we often find ourselves getting lost in our phones.

My husband and I have made multiple comments to each other and ourselves about getting lost in our phones instead of hanging out with our kids or paying attention to them. Every weekend, we vowed to not do it anymore, and every weekend we found we had zero follow through.

One weekend I decided to take it seriously. I put my phone in my office when I woke up and was getting breakfast for my kids. In the 30 minutes of making and eating breakfast with my husband and kids, I thought about reaching for my phone at least 10 times. For literally no reason, other than to waste time.

10 times. Instead of reaching for my phone and getting lost in Facebook drama, I was able to finish making breakfast quicker, have a conversation with my kids (who actually sat for breakfast because I was paying attention to them) about what we would do that day.

So I decided to carry it through the weekend. No IG story updating, no mindless scrolling. I got a workout in each day, organized and cleaned my bathroom, did a few puzzles with my kids, made dinner on time, cleaned out and organized the drawers in my office…these are just a few of the things I didn’t even realize were on my to-do list.

You know what else happened that I wasn’t prepared for? I wasn’t losing my patience with my kids. It made me stop and think about WHY that was and this is what I came up with…

When I’m mindlessly scrolling, I’m not really mindless. I’m deep into Facebook drama. Someone not agreeing with me/arguing with me, someone coming at a friend, me feeling the need to quickly answer someone’s question and be the first, etc. All these things trigger my anxiety and overstimulate me. It makes me visibly tense. When my kids are “bothering me” through this I get way overstimulated and my anxiety soars. I just want to type or read. Their voices and requests are just outside noise I do not want in that moment.

By limiting my reading and scrolling, that initial trigger and anxiety source isn’t there, which makes my kids’ requests reasonable and not overstimulating.

Now I know what you’re thinking: I need my phone to zone out. I need that break from reality. I need it to keep up with my friends. To smile. To laugh. So I totally understand not being able to cut it out completely. That’s why these tips will help you reduce your phone usage, not wipe it out totally.

Why do we waste so much time on our phones?

For me, it’s to zone out. It’s to not have to be responsible or have to deal with the kids yelling, hanging on me to play. It’s so that I don’t have to deal with the outbursts and hitting and “I’m bored.” But when I went the weekend with making a conscious effort to put it down, I realized it actually was causing more harm than good.

It allows us to not have to be “on our game” all the time.

How to reduce phone usage for adults

  1. Charge your phone in the morning, not overnight: I started charging my phone in the morning to reduce my phone usage. This meant that my mornings were no longer spent getting elbow deep into Facebook comments. I could start my day doing something productive and then eventually would stop thinking about where it was.
  2. Give yourself time limits: Set a timer on the phone or an outside device as soon as you decide to start scrolling. There also are apps that will help with this!
  3. Tell your kids to keep you accountable: I have given my 8 year old full permission to tell us when we’re spending too much time on our phones. He’s allowed to call us out on it and I want him to!
  4. Don’t reach for it right away when you wake up: This is huge for me. If I reach for my phone right away, I’m more inclined to spend 20 minutes on it because I’m comfortable and in my bed. Getting up and moving first definitely helps.
  5. Stay focused! I know that when I grab my phone to look something up quickly, it’s a slippery slope and I end up back into Facebook. We have a separate device we use just for internet browsing and it has no apps for this purpose too. If you reached for your phone for something specific, stick with it!

I hope these tips to reduce your phone usage are helpful for you! I encourage you to take a full day and pay close attention to how often you are reaching for your phone and how often those reaches are productive or mindless.

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