Today I heard the words I have been looking forward to hearing my entire life.
“Mommy, read to me.”
She didn’t have to ask me twice.
I spent a lot of time during V’s first year on my phone. To be honest, I was grateful for it: I was so sleep deprived that I needed the phone to keep me awake. When she woke up every hour on the hour to nurse, when I was trying to not fall asleep in the rocking chair during her nap (she never let me put her in her crib to nap, save for a handful of times — meaning, yes, you’re reading that right, I rocked and held her through every nap), when I googled what a certain kind of rash was or what early teething looked like, when I needed a minute to think about things besides baby spit up and diapers. I read articles, played lots of games, and obviously scrolled social media. Soon enough, I was super addicted.
I didn’t want V to see me like that, with my face always down in my phone. I knew she was watching me closely, and I wanted to be a better example. So I did three things about that:
1. I invested in The Light Phone II, which isn’t out yet, but you can click the link and check it out. It is a very, very simple phone that just calls and texts. This will be my “home phone” that I will switch on once I’m with her, to keep away from the urge to scroll.
2. I got a library card. This, you guys already know because I don’t stop talking about it. But I figured if my kid was going to see my face always looking down at something, I wanted it to be a book, not a phone.
3. I put an Instagram timer on my phone. It’s very easy to do within the app. Set the maximum amount of time you want to spend on it each day and it’ll alert you when you get there. You’ll be surprised how much you’re really on it!
I don’t really use Facebook anymore, so I don’t struggle there.
Another thing we did to save some time and money was cancel our cable subscription. Man, I’m not gonna lie, that was a hard one for me. I miss Beat Bobby Flay! And Iron Chef! And Ina Garten! (That’s a lot of cooking shows for someone who doesn’t cook very much!) But it was really just a time waster, and we knew that. (Still. Sad.) If I ever went on maternity leave again, I’d probably get cable again for the short term. There are so many lonely hours when a new baby doesn’t sleep, and a new mom is much too tired to read. If cooking shows help pass the time, there’s nothing wrong with that.
It’s hard to be a good example to a child. To be honest, I think I fail more than I get it right. There are so many times I want to slink away and just escape for a minute. The phone makes it really easy to do that. Some days I really struggle with it. Other days are better. For the most part, she is way more interested in reading right now than she is in our phones. So that has to count for something, right?
And today, she said those magic words. “Mommy, read to me.” As she said them, she brought a book over to me and plunked in my lap. I hope she wants that very same thing for a long time to come!