The Calm Before the Smartphone

Today, I left my cell phone at home.

An utter disaster in the making, or something else entirely?  Will the world end in the two hours that my phone and I are separated?! (Spoiler alert: Not in the least.) I’m sure I’m not the only one here who has left their phone at home before.  And, it CAN be annoying.  But here’s what I learned from my experience today.

As I drove away from the pre-school drop-off line in silence, I noticed I was totally enjoying my inner dialogue and thoughts and “permission” just to be.  I actually took time to ponder life and notice and appreciate the things around me.  Which led to the best type of thoughts!  At the first stop light, I sat watching a huge American flag waving proudly in the wind, which led to thoughts of love and pride for my country and immense gratitude towards those who have fought for the freedoms we all so often take for granted.  From there, I reflected on so many other things I am thankful for in my life as well.  I continued to breathe a slower and deeper as I took in the beautiful surroundings I so often miss.  Green light: Go.

From there,  I reached for the dial to turn on the radio.  It was one of my favorite Kenny Chesney song. I turned it up.  It took me right back to the concert my husband, Erik, and I went to last June.  Feelings of pure happiness, freedom and youthfulness that only live music can deliver filled me up.  As an added bonus, that song took me on a trip to the Florida Keys—a mini-vacation in my mind: on a boat in the bluest ocean, margarita in-hand, slathered with Coppertone sunscreen and not a care in the world.  Window down, radio up, smile on my face.  At this point, I felt more like my 20-something self in my Volkswagen Beetle than my (still way-cool) 30-something self jamming in my mini van.  Wow, this is what I’m missing out on when I choose to check the latest post, tweets and pins at my 2 minute stop-light break?!

Next stop, the doctor’s office to get some blood work done (routine stuff during pregnancy at an office I visit monthly).  The place is normally packed, because it’s also attached to an office for x-rays and different types of scans.  I was SO pleasantly surprised to see that the office was almost empty (that NEVER happens)! So, I sat down to watch Love It or List It on HGTV and the most amazing thing happened… I started chatting with some really great people around me.  Amazing how having that tiny little device can serve as such a social barrier in today’s world, ushering us away from human connection, and the things that matter most in life.  These folks were quite a bit older than me, and did not seem to be part of the smartphone epidemic.  So there we all sat, cell phone free, talking and getting to know more about one another.  I was actually a little disappointed I was called in so quickly to have my lab work done.

As I got in the car to drive home, I noticed that I felt calmer, happier, more relaxed and even more fulfilled from taking some time just to be.  There were no super urgent text or phone calls and I haven’t checked Facebook/Twitter/Instagram newsfeed since I’ve been home.  And the silly thing is, the feelings of stress and anxiety from always feeling like we’re “on-call” are totally unnecessary.  It’s something I have allowed to happen over time, and something that needs to change.  There is nothing in life that is truly so urgent that we need to be connected 24/7.  And, I wonder at what point in time the “switch” flipped inside to make me think this was the case?  We are also making it a rule in our home that no phone are in-hand between the hours of 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.—for the same reason.  The gift of being present is the best one that my husband and I can give to each other and to our child (soon-to-be children).  And kids totally notice and feel the difference of a distracted parent vs. one that is all present with them.

Today proved that focusing less on quantity time with my smartphone and utilizing it for it’s many benefits to make the quality of my life so much better. (Hello: Calendar, Reminders, Notes, Camera and other features that simply my life by having them in it!!!). We are also making it a rule in our house that no phone are in-hand between the hours of 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.—for the same reason.  The gift of being present is the best one that my husband and I can give to each other and to our child (soon-to-be children).

I’d love to know, what is your relationship with your smartphone? How do you work to integrate it into your life without letting it gain too much control?  And, how do you feel when you distance yourself from the convenience and distractions of digital technology in your day-to-day life?

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