Caroline M's blog: Plugged in....
Unfortunately, my children believe this is a legitimate word. I am constantly distracted. With half an open ear, I tend to overuse this word– to show them I am listening, but as little as they are, they disappointingly know that I am elsewhere.
Screens dominate my life: In business, at home, and even in downtime leisure.
I’ll sit down to hear about their day, realise we are short on lunch ingredients and log on to top up the online shopping.
A note home from school about dress up day sends me back to my device to any website that will source the outfit for me at short notice.
A query during homework and I’m trawling through trusty old Google.
On our more relaxed evenings, I reach for the phone to turn on some music on our sonos.
Even a healthy run has me recording my data and checking the screen intermittently.
I actively tried to avoid my phone during our two weeks break this summer, but failed miserably. Realistically, I needed to check it to plan our meet ups with family we had not seen for over 18 months. I needed the phone for directions or addresses, even to check the time, and I found myself in the same habits I was explicitly trying to avoid.
After our holiday, we booked a camping trip over that last bank holiday weekend. We landed at our campsite looking the part. But for all my screen work in advance, I failed to notice the campsite had no electric points. It was glaringly obvious we were novices.
While the flat air mattresses were a disappointment, they paled in comparison to realising I could not charge my phone. I found however that once I accepted that fate, it was genuinely liberating.
I listened and chatted to the kids with full attention. When we were out and about during the days, I felt free of a timetable. It was a real holiday, away from the day-to-day planning and managing the household (even remotely). As cliché as it is, I was present. I was fully present. And I was definitely less irritable.
In typical new term fashion, the golden plan was that I would avoid my phone between six and nine in the evening. That would allow me focus on the girls when they were collected from their respective places up to when they go to bed. I have not yet been consistently successful in doing so, but keep reminding myself of how differently I behaved with them when that distraction was eliminated. Not to mention that I also do not want to see them following the same patterns with their noses in their phone as teenagers.
With the move back to the office, and the reintroduction of a commute, I will try get my tasks out of the way in transit. I’m hopeful that my home life will be more clearly a home life. For now, I leave my phone home on Saturdays when we are out and about in the local area. Slowly undoing a habit that has built up over time.
Caroline M is a Portfolio Manager at an asset manager in the city navigating a new way of working. She and her husband have two wonderful girls, aged 6 and 3 and together all four try to manage their puppy.