unplug tech column, iphone illustration



Break Up with It

By Solange Jazayeri | Illustration by Lucy Young

Yes, I know, I know. I’m addicted to my smartphone. Worse yet, I’m raising the next generation of tech-savvy addicts. I am not particularly proud of this.

Looking for support, I turned away from technology and bought a book: How to Break Up with Your Phone by Catherine Price. My only complaint was that the first chapter tried to convince me I was addicted to my phone. Isn’t this why I bought the book in the first place?!

If you’re like me and only have a few minutes to spare on any topic, activity, or task, allow me to give you some quick and easy life hacks, inspired by the wisdom of Ms. Price, to help you ignore your smart (smarty-pants) phone.

The first thing I did was have my two princesses (ages ten and seven) make an artsy sign that reads, “Mom, let’s snuggle instead.” I took a picture of them holding the sign and made it my lock-screen image.

I found it to be a good source of mom-guilt. We’re a pretty affectionate family. Looking at their sweet faces reminded me to ask myself whether what was on that phone was as important or more important in that moment than reaching out for them and pulling them closer. There are some things smartphones can’t do. There isn’t an app for heartfelt snuggles.

Believe me; I am not out to shame anyone. I speak for myself when I say my kids get jealous of my phone. I know the feeling because now I’m jealous of Minecraft. The time when my kids wanted to play with me over anything else in this world has passed. Digital gaming has trumped me.

See the irony here?

As we look for creative summer crafts for our kids, this “get mommy off tech” art project is as good as any. Plus, it allows us to be in conversation with our children about what matters most, how to train our habits, and to focus on just that.

I love technology, but when my gadgets get in the way of “Mom, I’m ready to snuggle now” moments, I know it’s time to put the phone away.

Second, I set myself up for success. I’m a firm believer in the morning ritual—one that involves being intentional with every action and thought before the hustle and bustle of life gains control. Those early morning hours, before the kids and my husband wake up, is sacred ‘me’ time. More often than not, it’s the only time I’ll get to myself all day.

I like to pattern my morning to be as soul searching and productive as possible. Let me give you an example that doesn’t relate to the phone to build a parallel. Every morning I have a hot mug of squeezed lemon and water. I do this so that I can start my day as alkaline as possible, so my next craving is not bread or sugar. One wrong choice begets the next. It works the same way with right decisions.

Back to the phone. In the same vein as the tea, I attempt to keep my mind in a neutral state. To do so, per Price’s advice, I downloaded the Freedom app for my iPhone (QualityTime is comparable for Android devices), so the phone can block any website or outside app from becoming a distraction for a couple of hours. You would not believe how much writing time I have gained! More importantly, by not reading the news, emails, and pop-up advertisements, I am in control of my thoughts and what I consume as my first best choices of the day (as I am less vulnerable to distractions).

I may not be perfect the whole day through, but believe me, I am much better than I would have been had I not been so intentional in architecting my morning’s thought patterns.

Lastly, because it’s easier to build a habit than to break one, I’ve begun placing bottled water next to the phone so that my bad habit can lead to a healthy one. When I get the urge to check my Instagram, I gulp and hydrate instead! If my FOMO is still thirsty, at least I’ve earned the little social media cheat.

With summer upon us, we have the chance to revisit how we spend—or waste—our time. For me, summer means time for the ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ talk. I love technology, but when my gadgets get in the way of “Mom, I’m ready to snuggle now” moments, I know it’s time to put the phone away.

— V —

Solange Jazayeri has an MBA in communication and leadership from the University of West Florida. As a writer, her research explores the intersection of love and identity in this new age of technology.

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