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Monday, September 14, 2015

just be here with me: a guide to shutting off the social media chaos & living a life that is present and fulfilling

I love to see families having fun together. I love to see married couples, holding hands. It makes my heart smile.

In an era that is governed and dominated by social media and technology, these scenes are becoming more rare. Next time you go out to eat, you will most likely spot at least one table where the entire family is on a mobile device. Or you may see more couples out together, with one of them on the phone. Or mom may be so busy scrolling through her newsfeed that she's missing the chance to play and engage with her child. (guilty)

This breaks my heart.

I want us to remember how to talk to one another, out loud-- not via text with half of what we say consisting of emojis. We need to remember how to laugh together, how to look one another in the eyes. We need to remember how to be together-- how to be all there, engaged and attentive.

I know it's hard to sit down the phone. We seem to have been rewired with this need to be constantly connected, distracted, disengaged from real life. I've been there and I struggle, too. Here are a couple of simple ways that I am trying to cut the media mayhem out of my life and just be here with the people that I love:

Create a no-media zone. For me, this would be at the dinner table. No phones, tvs, or computers allowed! This is our time to connect at the end of the day. I like to ask the kids what was their favorite part of the day, what things they're thankful for, or a struggle that they experienced that day. It gives us a chance to bond and get to know one another.

When my husband and I are out on dates, I put my phone on vibrate and leave it stashed in my purse. I check it every hour or so to make sure I don't have any emergencies with the sitter, but other than that it stays put away. Date nights are rare and special for us, and so important to our marriage. I don't want either of us to spend that time on our phones.

In the evenings when the kids are in bed and I don't have work to do, my husband sit together and read, talk, or watch movies. This is a no-phone zone as well. I sit my phone completely away from me, in another room if possible, so that I'm not tempted to check it again and again.

Turn off notifications. I don't have instagram, twitter, or facebook notifications popping up on my phone all the time. I can only imagine how distracted I would be if I were notified of every single like, comment, share, or tweet every time I looked at my phone!

When I am speaking to my friends, I try to look them in the eye. Imagine how you'd feel if you were speaking and the person you were talking to was glancing at their phone, scrolling through text messages, or looking at pictures. Would you feel very valuable?

We don't have cable. And haven't missed it one bit.

Spend at least 30 minutes a day playing and engaging with your kids, phone free. When they speak to you, sit down your phone and look them in their eyes; if you're not able to at the moment, ask them to hold their thought until you can get to a good stopping point. This shows your kids that you value what they have to say, which will go a long way in building their self esteem and communication skills.

These things may take you a while to work at, but I promise that if you do the reward will be worth it. You'll go to sleep at night feeling satisfied, content, connected. Your relationships are worth a little effort ;)

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