How to be a Better Parent (and Have a Cleaner House too!)

(THIS POST PROBABLY CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. OUR FULL DISCLOSURE POLICY IS REALLY BORING, BUT YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.)

This is a guest post by one of my best friends, Maggie Andrews. Maggie is sharing her insane wisdom with us today – and it’s something I bet we all need to hear.

I deleted the internet off my phone, and now my life is different.

True story. (Sort of. It’s actually really hard to delete the Internet from your phone. I tried to figure it out for a loooong time before I learned how to restrict access to it.)

I was addicted to my phone. It was just so tempting.

I could always find a reason to check it every few minutes, whether it was email, a text, Facebook, Pinterest, and on and on and on. I don’t understand why, because it was rare that anything had changed since the last time I checked it. It was just this constant source of entertainment.

Having two small boys, this was not a good thing. They should be my entertainment… (and boy, are they entertaining)! Yet I was missing their childhoods to live in an online world. That sucked, so much.

I knew I what I was missing out on, but still, there was the siren call of that darned iPhone…

I didn’t want to be that mom who spent her kids’ lives on her phone. I didn’t want them to remember me staring at a screen all.the.time.

Above all, I didn’t want them to grow up thinking I thought my phone was more important to me than they are.

My husband and I would often talk about being physically and mentally present in our boys’ lives.

And then we’d be “good” for an hour. Maybe two.

But the draw of constant entertainment was just too much. The thought of a “dumb phone” started to become appealing to me. I thought if I just wasn’t able to have everything right at my fingertips, I could be better. I actually longed for the days before cell phones.

Turns out, you can turn your smart phone into a dumb phone.

It doesn’t take much techy knowledge, but it does take a LOT of willpower.

One day I realized that it wasn’t enough to just think about it and wish for it to magically happen. I had to make the choice to have a dumb phone. (It’s very easy to get the internet back, so it has to be something you are committed to seeing through once you make the change.)

I stopped thinking about it and just DID it! Saying goodbye to the smaller things at first – the very distracting games (so long, GardenScapes!), all the apps I didn’t use (really, was I ever going to work out with the 30 day challenge?), and progressively deleting the bigger stuff, until finally I got rid of Chrome (which was what I used to access Facebook).

I kept the things that aren’t constantly updating, like Kobo and The Wonder Weeks (essential for moms with kids under 18 months), and the apps I use for work. And I did keep Pinterest because I use that to cook.

Lastly, I turned on the restrictions and set a passcode, to make it so I couldn’t access Safari (the internet browser on iPhone) or download apps.

Suddenly, my phone was looking pretty dumb… and I felt free!

The first week was interesting. I kept picking my phone up out of habit, only to realize – it had become so boring!

I would look at it in confusion, and finally put it down to find entertainment elsewhere. Eventually I kicked the habit, and unless it beeps at me with a text, it usually just sits on the counter and plays music.

Now, here I am, a month into life with my “dumb” phone.

I have so much more time on my hands!

Things are actually getting done around my house because I don’t feel compelled to stare at my boring phone 17 hours out of the day. My windows are clean, my floors are clean, I’m cleaning things that I haven’t cared to clean in years, like behind my toilet (for the record, we only been in this house 10 months, so it wasn’t like there was years of nasty behind-the-toilet grime, but still).

(I’ll be honest, my Norwex cloths are a big help here, since they make cleaning pretty easy, but still… I feel so good having a clean house.)

But the best part?

Tickle fights with my three year old. Watching my 10 month old learn how to stand by himself. Getting down on my (clean!) floor and letting them crawl all over me, or play cars, or read books, or play hockey. There is so much entertainment in being a mom of boys… (So much frustration, too, but at least it’s not boring!)

Related: Remember Mommy: This Too, Shall Pass

Like I said, it’d be easy to turn the internet back on.

But now this is something I am consciously choosing to do, instead of being controlled by the habit. There are days that I do turn it on. Those are usually the days where I am running on three or four hours of broken sleep and I need the distraction to help me not lose my mind (we all have those days). But for the most part, the internet stays off and my house stays cleaner. I am a better parent. My life is different. 

(PSST – Check out the Becoming a Deliberate Mom – Reflective Workbook if this is the sort of thing you need to focus on. Momming is important. We need to do it like we mean it.)

More from Mommy On Purpose:

Encouragement for the Exhausted Mommy
How to get over 500$ in Stuff for New Momma’s FOR FREE
8 Things that Totally SHOCKED Me Postpartum

4 thoughts on “How to be a Better Parent (and Have a Cleaner House too!)”

  1. What a great post!

    I have a toddler and I’m a stay-at-home mom and I can see myself falling into that trap. For me, it’s my laptop. We have five or more in the house (just for my husband and me!) an Ipad and several smart phones.

    So, I can get on the internet anytime. But, I’v learned to block time for that (like when my son is out with the inlaws) or early in the morning.

    During the day are the chores. For me that’s what I’m challenged with. Doing chores over playing with my son. It’s all a balance!

    • Thanks Cathy! I really struggle with the computer. I constantly feel like I should be “working” even though what I should be doing is parenting!

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