Annapolis Family Photographer | SMP Behind the lens | Put down the phone
I didn’t purposely do it, well at least thats what I told myself. I can stop at any time, its not like I’m addicted… I mean its just a phone…
But was it just a phone? Could I really stop?… the answer is no, because quite frankly I was addicted. The actual definition of addiction in case you were confused like I was : the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity. For me that activity was the life I lived inside of a tiny rectangle that I paid over a hundred dollars a month to a cellular carrier to own. This “activity” had gotten ahold of me, and I hadn’t even realized it, not until one day I was sitting on the couch with my daughter and she heard the sound of a ringtone vibration and paused the movie and said ” I will go get your phone for you mom”… wait, what? My 5 year old heard the sound and already knew I would stop watching the movie with her to answer that notification on my phone, and in her pure little heart was even going to get it for me. <<< Typing that out makes me want to weep, and I dont say that to play on your emotions too, but as a mother it shatters your heart when you know that your child had taken a backseat to something far less important. I mean who were these “notifications” anyway? Some of them were family, some were friends, some clients emails… I mean lets be honest here, I’m a hustler in every sense of the word, I am a mom boss, Im a business owner, so I should have the phone in my hand right? I work long hours, and every weekend to live the life we do sorta comfortably, so it should be expected that I will be on the phone replying to emails, and handling client requests, right? I shoot multiple sessions per week, I mentor other photographers and small business owners across the country, I have clients in different states, I shoot almost 50 weddings per year, and have newborn clients being born weekly, I mean I HAVE to have my phone nearby and my office is wherever I am… this had just become the norm for me.. like I said I’m a hustler, a mom boss, a business owner….. But Im a mother….
Let me take you back a few months, right before I had a new baby, it was an early spring day and I was at the kitchen island scheduling a few things, and my thumb was scrolling my phone because thats what it does, I honestly could look away and my fingers they just know where the apps are, and then they get to scrolling its really become like second nature. I mean, all of my accounts can be accessed on my phone, from business, to multiple social media platforms both business and personal, banking sites, shopping sites, 4 email accounts you name it its on there, Im checking contracts, and invoices, and schedules while I cook dinner… because like I said.. I’m a hustler, a mom boss, a business owner.. this is acceptable right? So back to the spring day, Im scrolling.. and clicking, and scrolling and then I see my daughter at the table with paint all over her hands, I in not the nicest voice say ” what are you doing, you know better then to just get out the paint and paint all over your skin, why would you do that”…. those words rolled off my tongue before I could even take them back, I mean they were true words, she knows not to do that without asking first, and I was “working”… but then I saw her lip quiver and she said ” I did ask you, you said yes” ….. I what? I never said yes to that, you never asked me…. I mean, I remember you saying something and I said yes.. but Im not sure I could actually recall what she said because I was on my phone. She proceeded to tell me that she just came over to me, asked if she could I looked up and said yes… (my husband agreed that I did in fact say YES) … and I didnt even see her, nor did I realize I was ignoring her, and I agreed to something and then went right back to my phone. I. DIDNT. EVEN. SEE. HER……. I mean, lets be honest, yes I knew she was there, yes I know she was talking, I just went along with it because I was replying to an email…. and email that I made more important then the very child I had given life to. —- THAT will cut you to the core when you dissect that to its fullest. An email… a written correspondence to a client had now ranked higher then my child.
Now before I sound to crazy, I am a very involved parent, I go to every function, volunteer at school all the time, plan play dates, and go on park, zoo, field trips to all the places you can think of . we have fun, we do things… but all those incredible, great, moments can not take up for moments that I dont even look up from my phone.The ones that end in ” mom do you hear me, mom look at this, mom”
That finger painting day got me concerned, how often was I on this thing? Maybe I am infact addicted? So I started to recall the day.. I checked it as soon as I woke up, while I was getting ready in the morning, throughout the day, ALL. DAY. LONG. I scrolled, I replied, I tweeted, I posted, I downloaded, I streamed, I purchased. I laid in bed at night with the man of my dreams next to me, and would spend a solid 20 minutes updating all the things. I told myself I would do better, I would put my phone down… So I tried it here and there…
Friends, do you want to see how dependent you are? Try having a movie night with your spouse.. phone free.. like legit put it in the other room, you will start to come up with “reasons” why you need to check it… you DO NOT, but you will.. I did.
I spent a few weeks telling myself I needed to do something about this problem, but I didnt. I would just tell myself.. I’m a hustler, a mom boss, a business owner… this is normal.. but its not!
I had a new baby!!!!!! A darling 6 pound baby girl came 3 weeks early and ohhhhh boy did I forget how good newborns smell….
So then I found myself on my phone while I nursed her. I knew this had to stop, I mean, I teach workshops on finding balance between business and family.. that took me a while to learn, but now I’d say I love the freedom learning how to have business boundaries has given me, I can be present at more things, have way more family time, I can split my time and not feel that either family or business is sacrificing…. Id go so far as to say I work hard to create the balance that I have designed in my life.. but if Im just going to be on facebook the whole time, commenting on what other families are doing, thats not doing me any good either. That balance I have worked so hard to create in my life, was skewed and needed re-adjusting. You see, I had done a fantaistic job, of not mixing business and family to often, I created business hours, directed all correspondence to email instead of phone, and would schedule weekly “days off” all of these are great things, and in the grand scheme of things DID give me much more time with my family…. and my phone.
So I decided to give it a go.. MY GOSH it was tough, and I slipped up more times then I would like to admit, but friend…… OH BOY was it refreshing. I also realized that I was missing out, terribly missing out on incredible things that happen all day long, while I scroll, and pin, and like, and heart, and am not present. That little girl, with the curls and the blue eyes, she looks up at me constantly, shes at my feet much more then I realized, she seeks approval in my face… and I had failed her.
So this “experiment”, to go hands free from the phone.. it was tough, it took work, but, I was present, and it was incredible. My daughter would bring me my phone many times, which broke my heart, but she was used to me being on it.. I finally explained to her what my new initiative was, and she was excited. I have taken note that Children, they look over at you ALL.DAY.LONG… I mean, I was missing out on her, on life because my face was in my phone. so my weekend turned into my week, and week into a month…and we are still trucking right along.. I cannot stress to you what a change this has made, I mean lets also be real, I do still use my phone, and I am still a hustler, a mom boss, and a business owner.. But I am first and foremost a MOM,and I needed to set guidelines for myself which I did.. I have set times that I check my phone, and then mostly at night when I am working, or during work hours. I leave my phone in the car most times when we are out as a family, and I hardly every get it out at restaurants, friends houses, family trips to zoo etc… UNLESS, I am taking photos.. so if you see me out with it, dont tackle me… I LOVE to take photos, and do not LOVE to tote around my big camera all the time.
I wasn’t going to tell this story, or let you in on that struggle, even though the outcome has been incredible.. I thought nobody needs to know that I was addicted to my phone. Then a photographer friend that I follow (Amanda Hedgepeth) shared that she had went through something of the same, and she made it public in a post… and I realized that showing my weakness, being transparent is what may help another mom, wife, friend feel the same as me, and will hold me accountable.
Annapolis Family Photographer | SMP Behind the lens | Put down the phone