How to Miss a Childhood

Each minute of every day, we are presented with a choice on how we spend our moments. We can either miss the moments or grasp them. This photo was taken at a time in my life when I was missing the moments and in doing so, I was missing more than life.

By sharing my own painful truths when it comes to the distractions of the modern age, I have gained an unexpected insight. In the 18 months this blog has existed, I have been privy to a new distraction confession every single day.

Up until now, I never knew what to do with this unusual collection of painful admissions from an overly connected society. But today, in a moment of clarity, I knew. And a woman with 35 years experience as a day care provider held the key.

It came as a message in my inbox after the woman read my post “The Children Have Spoken” which included heart-breaking observations from children themselves about their parents’ excessive phone use.

As soon as I read the first sentence of the caregiver’s email, I knew this message was different than any I had ever received. The hairs on my arms stood up as I absorbed each word that came uncomfortably close to home.

It was a voice of heartache, wisdom, and urgency speaking directly to the parents of the 21st century:

“I can recall a time when you were out with your children you were really with them. You engaged in a back and forth dialog even if they were pre-verbal. You said, ‘Look at the bus, see the doggie, etc.’ Now I see you on the phone, pushing your kids on the swings while distracted by your devices. You think you are spending time with them but you are not present really. When I see you pick up your kids at day care while you’re on the phone, it breaks my heart. They hear your adult conversations. What do they overhear? What is the message they receive? I am not important; I am not important.”

In a 100-word paragraph this concerned woman who has cared for babies since 1977 revealed a disturbing recipe … How to Miss a Childhood.

And because I possess hundreds of distraction confessions, including stories from my own former highly distracted life, I have all the damaging ingredients.

All it takes is one child and one phone and this tragic recipe can be yours.

How to Miss a Childhood

*Keep your phone turned on at all times of the day. Allow the rings, beeps, and buzzes to interrupt your child midsentence; always let the caller take priority.

*Carry your phone around so much that when you happen to leave it in one room your child will come running with it proudly in hand—treating it more like a much needed breathing apparatus than a communication device.

*Decide the app you’re playing is more important than throwing the ball in the yard with your kids. Even better, yell at them to leave you alone while you play your game.

*Take your children to the zoo and spend so much time on your phone that your child looks longingly at the mother who is engaged with her children and wishes she was with her instead.

*While you wait for the server to bring your food or the movie to start, get out your phone and stare at it despite the fact your child sits inches away longing for you talk to him.

*Go to your child’s sporting event and look up periodically from your phone thinking she won’t notice that you are not fully focused on her game.

*Check your phone first thing in the morning … even before you kiss, hug, or greet the people in your family.

*Neglect daily rituals like tucking your child into bed or nightly dinner conversation because you are too busy with your online activity.

*Don’t look up from your phone when your child speaks to you or just reply with an “uh huh” so she thinks you were listening.

*Lose your temper with your child when he “bothers” you while you are interacting with your hand-held electronic device.

*Give an exasperated sigh when your child asks you to push her on the swing. Can’t she see you’re busy?

*Use drive time to call other people regardless of the fact you could be talking to your kids about their day—or about their worries, their fears, or their dreams.

*Read email and text messages at stoplights. Then tell yourself that when your kids are old enough to drive they won’t remember you did this all the time.

*Have the phone to your ear when she gets in or out of the car. Convince yourself a loving hello or goodbye is highly overrated.

Follow this recipe and you will have:

• Missed opportunities for human connection

• Fewer chances to create beautiful memories

• Lack of connection to the people most precious to you

• Inability to really know your children and them unable to know you

• Overwhelming regret

If you find this recipe difficult to read—if you find that you have tears in your eyes, I thank you, and your child thanks you.

It is not easy to consider the possibility that the distractions of the modern age have taken an undeserved priority over the people who matter in your life. In fact, when I admitted this difficult truth to myself almost two years ago, I experienced an emotional breakdown. However, that breakdown became a breakthrough that propelled me to begin my life-changing “Hands Free” journey.

Here’s the thing: You don’t have to follow the above recipe. Yes, it is the 21st century. Yes, the whole world is online. Yes, the communications for your job are important. Yes, at times you must be readily available. But despite all those factors, you do not have to sacrifice your child’s childhood; nor do you have to sacrifice your life.

May I recommend this recipe instead?

How to Grasp a Childhood:

Look into her eyes when she speaks to you … Your uninterrupted gaze is love to your child.

Take time to be with him—really be with him by giving your full attention … The gift of your total presence is love to your child.

Hold her hand, rub his back, listen to her heart beat, and smooth his hair … Your gentle touch is love to your child.

Greet her like you missed her when she was not in your presence … Seeing your face light up when you see her is love to your child.

Play with him … Your involvement in his activities is love to your child.

Set an example of being distraction-free while driving … Positive role modeling behind the wheel is love (and safety) to your child.

Create a distraction-free daily ritual … Consistently making him a priority each day is love to your child.

Focus and smile at her from the stands, sidelines, or the audience … Seeing the joy on your face as you watch is love to your child.

The recipe for “How to Grasp a Childhood” requires only one thing: You must put down your phone. Whether it is for ten minutes, two hours, or an entire Saturday, beautiful human connection, memory making, and parent-child bonding can occur every single time you let go of distraction to grasp what really matters.

The beautiful, life-changing results of your “Hands Free” action can start today … right now … the moment you put down the phone.


My life changed the day I stopped justifying my highly distracted life and  admitted I was missing precious moments that I would never retrieve. I imagined my daughter standing on the stage of her high school graduation and asked myself: When she is 18 years old, will I wish I had spent more time on my phone/work/social life? Or will I wish I had spent more time investing in her?

The answer was simple.

My hope is that this post inspires one person to become aware of how often he or she uses the phone (or computer) in the presence of a child. Please help spread this critical message by clicking “share.” By falling into the right hands, it could be the best gift ever received.

*If you are interested in the impact this post had on those who read it, please read “How to Miss a Childhood: Update.” 

*For tips about letting go of distraction to connect with the people you love please join “The Hands Free Revolution.” We are a growing community striving to grasp “the moments that matter” in life.

*For more information on transforming a distracted life into meaningful connection, you can pre-order my book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  The book hits shelves on January 7th! Thank you for your support!




    • 4

      j says

      Totally agreed. I didnt even have a cell phone until my 1st child went to college & only so she could reach me at all times. This is a message to my teen & college age kids: I gave you all of my attention & always showed interest in whatever you did or had to say. I never sat in a room or car with you with ipod ear phones in my head, texting & totally ignoring you. I made time for each of you. You could tell I was present for you. The time I spent with you was really spent WITH you. You came first & you could feel that. I waited to go through my email correspondence, & regular mail in fact, until after you were all tucked into your beds. When you went to dancing school and basketball practice I was there watching you & cheering you on. I wasn’t posting on facebook waiting for you to finish your activity. When you had your christmas concerts all at the same time on the same night at your 3 different schools, I made sure that I got to each of them & that you each saw me in the audience. You did not see me with a phone in my ear. You still don’t. But you don’t return that courtesy to me. When you read that article, understand that you all are acting like that distracted parent & are causing yourselves to miss out on time with your mother. And it breaks my heart.

      • 7

        sandra says

        I feel for you. As a teacher, I see this kind of behavior every day…we have a generation of people who will never be able to relate to others or carry on a conversation. I feel for their present and future families. (unfortunately it’s often a parent who is texting or calling students while in class)

        • 8

          JOC says

          I was just thinking the same thing as a teacher. An article should be texted out to all youth on how much life they are missing! Even the lecture or activity the teacher is trying to present is life!

        • 9

          Mrs. C says

          Younger generations have no idea on how to carry on a verbal conversation.
          In my house, the dinner table has always been where we catch up as a family. No phones aloud, not even answering the house phone! Same rule applies when we are out to dinner, phones stay in the car. Our time together is way to precious!

          • 10

            janice says

            When we go to a resturant we play this game. Everyone must put there phone on the table … the first to touch it …Pays the bill plus tip

      • 11

        Helen says

        J, I’m sorry you’re feeling ignored and slighted by your children. It is heartbreaking.

        But the post you wrote contained a lot of guilt. If you send this to them, they may feel like you’re trying to make them feel guilty for not giving 100% of their attention to you.

        I don’t know how old you are, but I’m guessing you’re at least as old as I am since I was a 20 year-old mother and my son is 22. Maybe you’re a bit younger. But if you have children in college, you probably didn’t have cell phones and such because they weren’t prevalent when your kids were young. But that’s beside the point.

        You sound like a loving and dedicated mother who gave everything to your children. And that’s exactly as it should be. You should be proud of that. If you were so attentive to your children, they must know that you love them without condition, and that’s not something all children know. They are lucky.

        But the problem I see is that you’re expecting your children to treat you as you treated them. You’re expecting them to treat you as a loving mother treats her children. But that’s not the way it works. You have more than one child, so you know by now that children don’t give their undivided attention. Almost ever. But should they? Aren’t they trying to figure out what’s important too? Aren’t they trying to move ahead in their lives and find someone to love so they can someday have their own children whom they will love and cherish as much as you love and cherish them?

        Teenagers and young adults separate themselves from their parents for a while – most do anyway. It doesn’t mean you’re not important. You are. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you. They do. It means they’re growing and learning and making mistakes. You can ask that when they’re with you, you spend at least some time without cell phones. But to expect them to always do that is unrealistic and is setting you up for being hurt.

        Think back to your teenage years. How did you treat your parents? Were you always attentive? Did you always believe that what they had to say was important? Did you continually listen to what they said and always abide by their wishes? Did you cherish them then as you do now? As you wish your children would you?

        I think where you’re setting yourself up for hurt and disappointment is when you allow yourself to believe that your children – that any teens/young adults – give their parents the kind of love and attention that loving parents give their children. It’s a different relationship with a vastly different perspective. Until they have their own children, they will never fully understand how wonderful you are – and that is ok. Someday they will get it. And then they will know.

        But I think you should do yourself and them a favor and not expect them to treat you as if you were their child, but rather, just treat you with respect.

        Guilt may have results, but in the end, it won’t be the results you really want.

        I wish you the best. And I am confident that if you loved your children as you say you did (and I’m sure you did), they will come around. They usually do.

        Good luck.

        • 12

          Belle says


          And I find this “how to miss a childhood” list a tad ridiculous. You don’t have to spend every single moment giving your child your undivided attention. As if mothers didn’t have enough to feel guilty about (we’re always wishing we could do more or do better) and now we can’t have five minutes on our phones without feeling more guilt?

          Cell phones have a time and a place, just like everything else. Duh.

          • 13

            Jodi Rives says

            Five minutes? Puh-leez. I cannot go anywhere parents and children congregate without seeing every single parent in sight glued to their phones obsessively.

        • 15

          Brenda says

          I agree with you. I would also like to add that in this day and age we have all gotten used to constantly being able to reach each other. J, wouldn’t you be upset if you were unable to reach your child on her cellphone? There is a thing called moderation that we need to use. Cellphones are wonderful. I sure don’t want to be without mine. Do I want it to be stuck to my dinner companions ear? Of course not. But if her husband needs her during our meal I say a answer your phone. That’s why we all have them. None of us want to give up our phones, iPads, etc but there is a place for everything. Even our author has been blogging for 18 months and there is nothing wrong with that. Commonsense and courtesy go along ways in helping make everyone happy!

        • 16

          Thayna Rosales says

          Thank you for been so blunt. I needed that. I’ am a mother of 2 girls 20 and 18 always on the phone. In my time we did not have so many features available and we spent most of our time with our kids. Now I’ am 50 going into menopause and feeling nostalgic about missing my kids when they where babies. I had so much fun being a mother and the where the most precious being I had. So looking back at old pictures makes me cry. I do not expect the same treatment even though sometimes I want to throw away the phones. But it’s the smell the easiness of handling them the happiness and the good times I miss. Now the they are opinionated more stressed than myself isolated on the phone 24/7 have boyfriends have to go to college. So the situation is not that nice and my mood swings are not helping. So thank u Helen for opening my eyes for not to expect to much now. I know they love me and my husband. They are wonderful young adults and I have to accept the change. I’m glad that I’m not so attached to my phone. I even forget my phone at home sometimes. And you know who gets mad, the kids because they cant get me on the phone. Anyway glad to have read your reply. From a tiny little island called Curacao.

      • 17

        rescuekim says

        If you feel this way, you MUST tell your adult children. I just went through this with my own mother and I swear, it never occurred to me that I was being neglectful. Now I know. Now I’ll do better. If you don’t tell them in plain words, you can’t expect anything to change. Good luck!

      • 18

        Jane says

        Your mother invested in you, and you invested in your children. Your children will pay it forward to their own children. They did not choose your parenting style, they did not choose to be your everything. YOU chose that. If you were investing in them just so you would get something back, you missed the point. I am a daughter and a mother. My mother was as involved with my life as you were with your children. Her intense love for me crippled me, and when I grew up and found a husband with whom to share a life, my mother made me feel guilty all the time for not being more available to her. That is shameful. I want my own children to feel loved, surely, but not to feel that it is their responsibility to provide me with a reason for living. Look at the way you parented. Your children are the result of it.

        • 19

          Joyce says

          Agree with the previous posters. I think the key word is moderation. The world today is connected. So the best we can do is teach our children how to use these devices responsibly. This doesn’t mean not using it (any better than abstaining from alcohol teaches a child responsible drinking).

          Second, J’s post makes me worry a bit about enmeshment. Children simply don’t revolve around parents the way parents revolve around children. As the children start to leave the nest, it’s time to consider new hobbies and filling life with new people, places, and activities so that the kids are free to cut the apron strings and explore life too. This is love. Parenting is a process of letting go.

          Lastly, I don’t think we need to spend every waking moment fully engaged with our kids. Many moments – absolutely!!!! But not every moment. Because besides making our kids feel cherished and adored, we also have to teach them they aren’t the center of the world, sometimes they have to wait, and Mommies need free time and nourishment in order to give our kids the best. Otherwise we set our kids up for a lifetime of expecting the world to fall at their feet, meet their needs immediately, and frankly not develop healthy coping mechanisms. Again, moderation in all things.

      • 20

        Linda says

        It seems that you always made sure your children were #1 and the center of everything. You cannot be surprised now when they are still #1 and the center of everything (irregardless of your needs or feelings). My own feeling is that it is not healthy for families always to have the kids as #1 — the center of all attention. Of course, it is also wrong to neglect our children. Let’s not fall in either ditch.

      • 22


        Brilliant post, excellent message – one I’ve been trying to get to my ‘kids’ many times since they’ve married and had children. The secret is moderation.. in all things.. sadly the techno generation don’t do moderation.. everything is extreme.. almost fanatical.
        PG your message is being disseminated… and hopefully the ripple effect since your post has been somewhat successful!

    • 23


      Wow. A friend posted a link to this blog on facebook and I’m so glad I caught it. My problem isn’t my phone but my computer. Thanks so much the reminder on what truly is most important in life and that is our relationships!

    • 25

      David Summar says

      Can’t help but wonder, were the photos in those blog posts taken with a smart phone? Blurring the line a little?

      • 26


        Very good question, David. You are so right — taking pictures on a smart phone can take us out of the moment just as easily as any other type of media distraction. To answer your question, the photos I use on my blog are taken with a Cannon digital camera. One of my passions is capturing life moments and making photo books for my children to look at when they are older. The photos on my blog are from that collection. However, the point you raise is very valid. I strive to think about what I am missing when I pull out my camera. The need to click can often take over what really matters in the moment at hand. Thanks for commenting.

      • 27

        Brenda says

        @ David – blurring the lines a little? Come on give her a break. Yes she probably took the pictures with her smart phone – so she can put them on this blog and MAKE THE POINT that she has. I think it’s an excellent article to reflect on. If you’re not guilty of this – fine, keep on with your life the way it is. BUT, if you are guilty, then hopefully this article will challenge you and cause you to reflect on your priorities. I’m greatly disturbed by what I see at family gatherings, restaurants, etc. – moms & dads & kids on their cell phones for hours with no active communication between them and it certainly isn’t for a mere 5 MINUTES. We’re creating a bunch of attitudinal zombies for children with no idea how to have “relationships”. Great article – thank you for sharing and trying to shake us out of the “zone” we’re in.

        • 28

          Brenda says

          My apologies. I see that Rachel already addressed taking the pictures – not with a smartphone with her digital camera. I had not seen her reply before I commented. I stand on the rest of my comments though 🙂

      • 29

        Erin says

        You know, David, if it weren’t for my phone, there would be so many pictures that I would have missed out on! I’m not missing moments by taking pictures, I’m trying to PRESERVE those moments! I’m so thankful that I always have my camera with me when I don’t have a camera with me! And with having an iPhone, there is an easy way of getting to that camera quickly so therefore that takes less time away from that moment.

        I do admit that I am slightly addicted to the internet. I think I have some work to do on that this year. But when my girls are stressing me to the max, it’s my moment away, my stress reliever. I can go onto my motherhood group site on Facebook and vent my frustration and they understand! That is such a help to me. I agree with all the comments that moderation is key.

        Happy New Year to everyone! Hope you all have a wonderful 2014!

    • 30

      Mark says

      I’m sorry, I disagree. We all look back longingly at the past and remember a better time. But the past isn’t ever as glorious as we want to remember it. Before cell phones we had phones. Ever remember “be quit I’m on the phone”. Before that we had tv, remember “go outside my shows are on”. Parents since the beginning of time have had things other than their children that occupied their attention. And their children interrupted them and annoyed them. What we’ve forgotten in this age is something called manners. Or parents taught us this when we were tools to be quiet. When someone is busy, you wait your turn. You learn to entertain yourself, you grow up. In this modern age, what we’re missing is a new set of manners.

      It’s rude to use a phone at the dinner table. If you don’t want to eat with people, then eat alone.

      It’s rude to be on your phone when you greet or say goodbye to someone. In the old days they called it “walking them to the door”.

      When you talk to someone or someone is talking to you don’t be on you’re phone, you wouldn’t read a book if someone is trying to talk to you would you? No you’d put the book down or ask them to wait.

      Don’t use your phone while driving, it’s dangerous.

      Don’t feel bad bringing a phone to the park or to a game. My parents brought a book. My friends parents would drop them off. Despite what we think as parents, they love when we watch, they’re glad when we’re there, but they’re really playing because it’s fun.

      It’s not hands free, it’s being parent. Teach them good habits and manners by example. It makes them better people, which in the end will make you a proud parent.

      • 32

        Terre says

        I am grateful for this post. We all have our opinions and we have all had our problems and joys of raising our children but hopefully in the end we have taught our children to Love, Respect and serve others. Children are exposed to all kinds of teachers in their lives but in the end it is what we teach them that they truly come back to and hopefully from generation to generation we get better and don’t pass the wrongs that were done to us as children on to our own children.

    • 33

      Veronica Brunjes says

      I didn’t take the time to read everything on your post, I don’t spend enough time on the computer to allow myself enough time to read all the words. All the time you have spent playing on your computer to tell other people they spend too much time on their electronics. Hmmmm.

      • 34

        kerrie says

        She did mention working on computer when children are asleep. Such a vital message to all young mothers to put their phones down once in a while!

  1. 35


    As always, thank you Rachel. Perhaps you could create an intervention protocol because so few parents realize they are doing it until, like last night at my boys baseball game, the boy who never hits nailed a double over the first baseman’s head. His Dad looked up from his phone and missed his son’s first double. His son knew it, too.

    Heartbreaking as a coach to see all those heads bowed down on the sidelines. Why do they even come?

    • 36


      Thank you, Bill. Hmmm … an intervention protocol. That is an interesting idea. I will definitely think on that. You are so right that checking the phone becomes a habit that many are not even aware they are doing … or what they are missing. That is a very sad example that you provided of the dad missing his son’s play, but unfortunately not uncommon. I appreciate you taking time to share your insight here.

    • 37

      Sara says

      I took a book to my kid’s games. I went because I was her ride. I still facilitate their interests, even when I don’t share them.

      • 38

        kelli says

        I really don’t understand how you can’t be interested in something if your kids participate in it. I don’t care about watching sports but as my kids have become interested in them I watch with interest. If I don’t know anything about it I am going to learn because of them. My daughters self confidence has blossomed this year as a result of playing sports. I don’t think of myself as her ride I think of myself as her biggest fan.

        • 39

          Tracy says

          I understand what Sara’s saying. We need to be there for our kids in small ways all day long because that’s where the connections are. We do not, however, need to witness every at bat, every ballet practice, every intramural kickball game (yes, parents attended these at my kids’ grade school).

          Sometimes I need time to read or just think (I am not a big phone person) and the times when my kids are involved in other activities are perfect because they don’t, in fact, need me then. They aren’t thinking about me at all!

          When needed, I have been right there with them, timing races for the swim team and rearranging my work schedule to get to all the choir concerts. I have also seem them become more internally motivated in their lives because they have decided that they want to excel for their own benefit rather than to hear me say, “Great job on that physics project”. I think it is appropriate for it to change as your kids get older.

          • 40

            rhonda says

            I have to dis agree. I feel you should be our kids biggest fan. When a kid is playing a sport, and they make a big play the first thing they do is look to see if their parent is proud of them. Even grown men who play football will turn and look at the camera and say “hi, Mom!” I agree people live such busy lives and need time for themsleves. Some enjoy reading while others enjoy being on thier phones. To me, if you are going to do those things, use the time your kids are at practice and you are waiting for them not while they are in an actual game. I used to pay my bills, balance my checkbook, clean my car out, even sweeping it with a little car broom, and yes, sometimes read a magazine while my kids were at practice. We don’t always have to be the social butterfly or perfcet at all times. If other BUSY parents can’t understand you stiting in your car, maybe even taking a well deserved and much needed cat-nap, while your child practices, there is too pretense going on. Let’s face it life is not as simple as it used to be. People are busy. Everyone tries to have so much, and do so much, and give their children more opportunity than what they had , more everything than what they had and that takes time, money, effort and energy. So, we have to find a balance. If you can go hands free, great! If you can’t, you have to determine the times that are best to use it. I know, in my case, as well as many other mothers I have talked to, we end up losing sleep, staying up way after everyone in the house has went to bed so we CAN have time to oursleves. So we can unwiind. So we can talk to our friends, or leave them a message. Is this best? I don’t think so. We are losing sleep essential to our health. Our husbands are going to bed alone. I think what was best was the simpler times when a mom was just that, a mom. She stayed home, took care of the house, kids, bills, yard, etc and had time to do things so when her children and husband came home at the end of the day, she was ready to spend time with them. Now we are so busy trying to have it all, the nice, new cars, big house, t.v.s in every room. Even computers in every room and for every person. Let alond the fact even the children each have their own cell phone! We have so much and have to work all the time to take care of and pay for it that we are exhausted and have no time left . When I was a child, we had one televisoin in our house. Everyone watched family oriented t.v. together. Now, the parents watch things the kids can’t see so the kids have their own t.v. and are probably watching reality t.v., someone else’s messed up life!
            I am guilty of all of the above. Sometimes, my husband and I will sit is 2 totally different rooms after dinner, if we have dinner . Sometimes, I am so exhausted it is ‘”everyone fend for themselves.” All my kids are grown and out except the youngest, my son, who just turned 19. Most days he is in his room until dinner and goes right back afterwards. He has 2 t.v.s, (one for gaming and one for watching while he is gaming.)So, we have become a perfect example of modern techno times and distant family, living together, existing in the same house. Do I want it this way?NO! Sometimes I can’t even believe this is me and my family. When my kids were little, I didn’t work. We had one t.v., no cell phones. My house was clean, my suppers were always cooked. We read books, played in the yard and sand box, and spent time together. Really together. We didn’t have a lot of money but we never did without, either. One thing I know and have always said, escpeically back then when other mothers would say “Oh, you don’t work. Must be nice” is I didn’t have a lot. But I did have time to be with my kids. I shopeed at the trhift stores for clothes and they looked as well put together as anyone else at a fraction of the cost. I cut coupons and shapped at several different grocery stores for the sales, etc. My kids and I would go to the park and I would pack a pic-nic lunch or spend $4.00 on an all Amarican meal (supersized) from McDonald’s and we would share it 3 ways.) We didn’t have a lot of money to spend but what we did have was time with each other. I got to teach them my morals and my values. I was their when they took their first steps and said their first words. I was there when they walked into school for the first time or got sick and needed someone to come get them. My kids won’t remember what they didn’t have but they will remember time spendt with me. The will have memories. As they got older, I felt the need to have more, to give them more and went to work. Then, when I came home, I ( to do my second job) I was so tired, I had nothing left to give except things. So, they got the games, and t.v.s and phones and cars. And they also got used to me NOT being around. NOT being there. And now, they are independent and secluded and don’t have time for me and have gotten used to my not being there so they don’t even really miss me. But oh, how I miss them. Oh, how I miss those days when they were little. And the thing is, they were so little, they barely remember those times. The times before I got too busy to be there litke I should have been. The happiest days of my life were the times spendt with my children. The times when they were young, and it was all about teaching them and loving them and the innocence of a child. But we corrupt that. We neglect that. We take it for granted. I did. Now, I miss my babies and wish they were young and I could do it all over again. If you still have time, still have a chance, put down your phone, get off the computer and away from that t.v. and go love your child. Don’t let anyone stand in the way of that. Make memories and connnections. I stop and think about what my kid’s older childhood memories are like; the ones they can remember. Sadly, there really aren’t any. Thier’s are sititing in their room while we sat in another. Even at family events, if they didn’t want to go, we didn’t make them. They stayed home and sat in their room. I chalked it up to young teens being teens. But really, it was because there was a disconnect so they had no desidre to be around me. Don’t do that . That is what makes memories and keeps you close. Experience things together. Live life together. They are only little once and believe me, no matter who much you want to, you can’t get those years back.

        • 41

          Erin says

          Please. My poor stepdad had to go to all of my piano recitals. He is tone deaf, and he couldn’t tell if I was playing well or poorly. And he had to listen to 20 other kids play their crappy songs. If he didn’t bring a book, I hope he had a good movie he could play in his imagination.

          Meanwhile, my mom dropped me off for YMCA Saturday basketball games and went for her one hour of “me” time every week. Good for her.

          The sanctimommy oozing through these comments is so lame.

      • 43

        Rikki says

        I can understand not wanting to watch every practice, but you could pay attention to the actual games.

      • 44

        Laura says

        A book or sewing project is the same as a phone. It sends that same message to our children: You are just not interesting enough/ important enough for me to give my attention.

        I think this message could apply to Mom’s who feel the social pressure to have a perfectly tidy home, too. There is only so much time in the day to drive to school and lessons, errands and work, appointments and exercise. My house is not tidy like it was before my 3 beautiful children came, but it will be again someday when they make their ‘new’ life somewhere else. All of the books that I have not finished will still be on the shelf. All of the craft projects will be waiting on me when they are gone. And I hope those things which I have been too busy to tend to will help me transition into the next season of my life and ease the sadness of missing my children. But for now, I am in the sweet season of being needed by my babies – ages 7, 10 and 17. Such a privilege! I am trying so hard to live in the present and soak up every minute!

      • 46

        Risa says

        I’m an only child and both my parents read every night instead of playing extra hours with me. As a result, I wanted to learn how to read earlier than my friends and I’m still an avid reader. My father told me that he had been at work all day and reading before bed was “his time.” I respected that and still do. It didn’t hurt my feelings. I went off and found something to entertain myself. I used my imagination. He was in my presence physically, but he was also teaching me that the world does not exist to dote on me. Tere are a great many children who can’t even be involved in extra curricular activities because their parents work multiple jobs or are simply not interested in their kids at all. I wouldn’t judge too harshly someone who still supports her children’s interest even while reading a book. Yes, I remember my father telling me about his time. It made me appreciate what he did all day, working to support us. I agree with the notion of putting down your phone and hanging with your kids, but really, how many more ways can we make a mother feel guilty? Sadly, even with all this togetherness we can’t learn to support other people in positive ways.

        • 47

          Ursula says

          I personally think its about balance. Yes, connection time is vital. Yes, family time is critical. And there should be courtesy and love given to children, and other adults in your life, where they are your focus. But too many busy working parents neglect their own emotional well-being by getting sucked up into every movement their children make. I don’t think that’s healthy for either the parent, or the child, who starts to believe that every word they utter and every action they take is the center of the universe. Children also need to learn that their interests must be balanced with the interests of others, even their parents. My children often see me reading or working when they’re around, and I don’t welcome unecessary interruptions. That doesn’t mean I won’t put my book down if they need me, and it doesn’t mean I don’t deliberately take time to do something focused on them. Again, balance.

    • 48

      rescuekim says

      ihopeiwinatoaster, surely there must be some way for you to get that message about seeing all of those heads bowed at the sidelines. Perhaps a picture from the field to be shared with parents. That would be very telling!

  2. 49


    This is the best post I’ve read in months. And I think ever mom, every parent should read it. It could be life-changing.
    What a heart-wrenching realization to come to, and what a brave and yet difficult admisssion it must have been to make.
    I am so very, very, VERY (I can’t say it enough) thankful that my boys are old enough that we moms just didn’t have technology in our pockets/purses/hands when they were little.
    I thank the good Lord for that, because I know my involvement in their childhood might have looked quite different if I’d had an iphone or a blackberry.
    As it is now, they’re 11 and 14, and I know I spend too much time with this laptop in front of me, but at least it doesn’t go with me wherever we go.
    Good for you for facing the hard truth, and for making the decision to focus on what’s TRULY important in life.
    I’m going to share this on my page in the hopes that it hits home with others. That silly phone will always be there, but our children children grow so quickly, and these days with them, we’ll never get back.

    • 50


      Hi Jackie, thanks for making my day with your kind words. I knew when I received that email from the day care provider that a message with major impact was going to come from it. I am thrilled with the thousands it has already reached in just a few hours. I am very hopeful that tonight’s ball game, bed time, or dinner hour will be a little different than it was yesterday for one child in the world.

      I really appreciate your honesty and in sharing your own experience. Also, thank you for sharing this post with others. I can write the messages, but I cannot spread them–not like my readers can. So thank you, thank you, thank you for supporting this critical message. I am honored that you view it as “life changing,” too. Thanks for taking time to comment!

  3. 51


    You might think I am really weird but I still don’t own a cell phone. It’s getting to the point where people just look at you strangely when you say you don’t have one. I’ve survived a major earthquake without it and yes I got hassled by people that couldn’t contact me to find out if I was all right – but really, what’s more important – that they couldn’t ring, or that I was all right?

    • 52


      Hi Sarah, I don’t think it is weird at all that you don’t own a cell phone. Actually, I think it is refreshing and inspiring. I would love to hear more about your insights and experiences having no phone. My guess is that you haven’t missed anything by not having one, but have gained much. Thank you for taking time to share your unique experience. It is greatly appreciated.

      • 53

        Dawn says

        I completely agree with the blog & with the post but would like to point out that there are special circumstances too that causes people to actually need a cell phone. I am hearing impaired so I cannot talk on the phone & my iPhone is my only method of communicating with my childrens’ friends’ moms especially when those children are playing over at our house or my children are at theirs. Some moms don’t have cell phone in which case I also have a smartphone so I can connect with those moms via Facebook invade something happens & a child unexpectedly needs to be picked up. It’s a huge help since I’m less dependent on my parents or my husband to call for me & being stuck as they are at work & I need to get ahold of someone. Or if I am stuck in traffic, a doctor appt is taking longer than I thought, I can just pull out my cell & quickly text my husband if he’s off or my parents to pick up my kids from school which is really handy for someone who cannot simply call. I am a SAHM & I do try not to spend so much time on my iPhone but sometimes fall into the trap which is why I love this story.

        But I just wanted to put out there are certain situations where sometimes a cell phone, even a smart phone is needed.

        • 54


          Thank you, Dawn! I really appreciate you sharing your unique perspective. This gives me a chance to clarify what “Hands Free” means since there are many new readers here.

          Living “Hands Free” does not mean abandoning technology altogether. In fact, I think everyone can agree technology, the Internet, and even social networking sites like Facebook are not “bad” — they can actually be highly beneficial to our lives. It is how and when we CHOOSE to use them that can be harmful to our lives and our relationships.

          Living “Hands Free” means temporarily letting go of external or internal distraction (i.e.; phone, computer, unrealistic standards, perfection) to be fully present with someone or something meaningful in one’s life. I believe this is a realistic and highly attainable solution to living a present and meaningful life in the 21st century.

          In your case, your iPhone is your life-line. This is completely different than people who continually chose to use their phone for insignificant reasons in the presence of their loved ones.

          Thank you so much for taking time to share your insight.

    • 55

      Becky Linka says

      That’s great, Sarah! I do have one, but i don’t use it often. And i REFUSE to get a “smartphone”! Why on earth do I need to carry the internet around with me? I’m a SAHM for a reason, and life is crazy enough as it is. I know a few people who have facebook as their lifeline & it annoys me to no end! Kudos to you!

      • 56


        I don’t own a cell phone. Sometimes they could be handy when we need a phone and all the payphones are gone. But, if I got one, I’d never really use it. It’s an expense I don’t need. I get odd looks too.

        • 57

          Rikki says

          My cell phone is a pre paid plan- We spend $100 per year for our coverage- the primary reason for the $100 is that is the only way to get the minutes to “roll over” but I’ve been very close to using the entire $100 for the year- that is $1 per day that the phone is used plus 10 cents per minute. I don’t use it much and I don’t need or want a smartphone, but it is handy at times. And this is a good way to have a phone that doesn’t get much use. If you find yourself “needing” a phone you might look into this option. I’ve done this for the last 4 or 5 years, I did have a more traditional cell phone plan for about 7 years before that and I only went over on minutes, with the most basic/cheapest plan once- the month we moved and were without home phone service for a week. I’m not really trying to persuade you that you need to get a cell phone, but to give you an idea of an option if you should ever “need” to get one.

      • 58


        I don’t have a smartphone, because I’m too much a cheapskate to pay the extra bill for the stupid “required” data package. I would have a smart phone for the capabilities it has, and the wifi it can mooch for work, but I don’t need the incessant connectivity of it. The problem becomes the service provider requiring the extra services I don’t need or want. I also have the antiquated text package with only 250 text messages, because I hardly EVER go over that many.

      • 59

        Dawn says

        I, too, refuse to get a smart phone. Only recently did I get texting. And that is a pain on my 8 year old phone. But, I won’t replace it, as I see it as a tool, not a necessity. I am afraid for the next generation of children, as their parents(the current high school/college age kids) will be almost surgically attached to their devices. It is sad to see a group of teens walking together, but not talking, as their noses are in their phones.

    • 60

      CrystalCancan says

      That’s awesome, Sarah! I myself have been cell free since ’07. I do own 2, but I’ve been juuust fine without. I know what you mean about being looked at like you have 2 heads. I’m quite glad I don’t have one.

  4. 61


    The thing is, you don’t have to have the distractions of the current age to be MIA when it comes to your kids. There have always been things to distract parents- TV, radio, problems, work, friends, hobbies…you name it. Yes, I agree, with smart phones we’ve upped the stakes, but still, I didn’t get that kind of attention and my parents still don’t have cell phones. If parents aren’t interested they will find something else to do, if they are interested, they will make time to tune in to what their kids need.

    • 62


      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Sandy. I agree that distractions can come in many forms, not just the phone. And I also agree that parents can be disconnected when it comes to their children and that is by choice. However, I receive emails every day from well intentioned parents who simply didn’t realize how much their attention was being consumed by their phone. And that by having a new awareness they were able to alter their phone habits and be more present with their child. That is the intention of this post—to bring awareness about excessive phone use in the presence of one’s child. This post is not about parents who do not wish to be a part of their children’s lives.

    • 63

      Cynthia Hodge says

      AMEN! The parents who don’t want to be bothered with their kids won’t be, with or without a cell phone, but hopefully this article helps them realize what should be their priority. Adults are just as bad when talking with each other. They are on their cell phones! This generation of kids are the same way…a cell phone glued to their hand! My kids are grown and I have a grandchild and pray that my daughter does not get her a phone!

      • 64

        Susee says

        Children are learning from their parents and everyone around them that you must have a cell in hand at all times! I see very small children (2 yr olds) who are fascinated with electronics. In fact, some children will choose a cell phone or ipad over human interaction. Teens do not know how to talk with each other without texting. Dating is planned by a text. True communication is going to be a thing of the past if we don’t put down the electronics and start living real life in the moment.

  5. 65


    Great post. So sad to think how many people are addicted and don’t even know it. This is a great way to start the awareness campaign.

    Though even before social media and handheld devices existed this was a modern problem. Remember the Cats In The Cradle song? I still think of that whenever I ignore my kids and then immediately drop what I’m doing to absorb the moment. That, and Thoreau keep me aware…

    “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

    • 66

      Juliet Luiz says

      Love this comment. Beautifully written. I’m going to start reading Thoreau! 🙂

      So true… Distraction isn’t only a symptom of the technology age.

  6. 67


    I very recently upgraded my old cell phone to an iPhone. I told the salesman that I did NOT want to be one of those people who are forever 2 thumbing their phones. He said, “Then don’t be.”
    I have to watch it though. So easy to check out on my kids and check in online.
    My 2 oldest live out on their own, so call me nearly every day to check in. I text with them, but ty to keep others to a bare minimum.
    This is an excellent article.

  7. 68

    Amy says

    My husband is in the mil and deployed about a month ago. We were quick to get a computer in the house for means of communication, which can sometimes be infrequent at best – but I didn’t realize how much my ‘checking to see if daddy got online’ bothered my children – until my son came to me and said, “Mommy, will you just push the ‘X’ ” and it (reality) came crashing home…. and I still struggle to not want to get online to see if my husband has/is on – and I know I could easily excuse it, but the excuses wouldn’t last long in the eyes of my children! This has been something the Lord is definitely helping me with, and I have definitely not ‘arrived’ by any means, but it is such a real issue and I am so thankful for the Lord showing me how real of a concern it should be in every parent’s mind – thank you so much for posting this!

    • 69


      Thank you for sharing your own experience, Amy. If anyone could justify a reason for being online, it would be someone like you–yet, you have chosen to listen to your children and admitted how your online behavior was hurting your relationship with them. I commend you for working on your “checking online” frequency and being mindful of your children’s needs. Thank you for sharing your experience. It is very inspiring.

  8. 70

    donna says

    I am so glad someone just posted this. I rarely spend time on phone talking or texting around my kids but i do facebook to much when they are around. I spend almost all my time with my kids honestly but this made me realize to put down the phone at their games and bedtime and not facebook at those times. . I am so thankfuk u shared this!!! i learned so much from it .

    • 71


      Thank you so much, Donna. I appreciate your willingness to assess your own behavior and honestly admit where a change is needed. Your post sums up exactly what my hope was for this blog post–to bring about a new awareness which translates to small behavior changes that make a big difference in the life of a child.

  9. 72

    Jill says

    I am a bit confused by your contradictions, if you have started a blog, then aren’t you still taking time away from your children to write ,comment or read the posts? I think any normal, caring, involved parent knows how to balance this rather simple task. But thanks for showing just how much time and effort you put into this rather then your own kids.

    • 73


      Having a blog does not make me a poor parent, Jill. This post is about being aware that WHEN and HOW we use technology can be harmful to our relationship with our children. This is not about abandoning technology altogether. I certainly wouldn’t tell you not to use your computer while you are at work. Nor would I accuse you of “taking time away from your children” because you choose to have a job.

      Being a writer and a public speaker IS my job. And I am proud to have a job which raises awareness on how electronic devices can harm our relationships while providing tactics for improving parent-child relationships all over the world. And what’s more is I am able to do my job while my children are in school or asleep so that I can be “Hands Free” when they are in my presence.

      I am overjoyed that in less than 24 hours on the web, this post has been viewed 15,000 times by well-intentioned parents who at times get overwhelmed by the pressures of our digital society. Simply reading this post has served as a reminder which people are immediately acting on by making changes in their phone use behavior. As a certified special education teacher with ten years experience and a Master’s Degree, I can attest that any parent willing to look inward to see where improvement is needed and then takes steps to make change IS a good parent.

    • 74

      Allie says

      Normal, caring, involved parents probably aren’t the sort to leave nastygrams with personal attacks on well-intentioned blog posts either. And obviously some people here have benefited from the advice. I don’t need dieting advice but I don’t feel inclined to visit dieticians’ websites to tell them so. Why would I be there in the first place? Clearly this struck a nerve.

      • 75

        Ruth says

        I am grateful for Jill’s comments. I scrolled through the comments looking for a critical view. If everyone agrees, there can be no intelligent discussion. Jill’s comments gave Rachel an opportunity to further defend her position, which helped me get to know her better. I hope others feel free to make comments that encourage discussion, otherwise you’ll end up preaching to the choir.

        • 76

          Jen says

          I agree with you to an extent, but there is no need for personal digs. She could have given her opinion/view without being offensive and derogatory in her comments. To be honest, I was wondering the same thing as Jill was, but the way she wrote it was unkind…

  10. 77


    I really NEEDED this. I am a photographer and so much of what I do is in front of the computer. I can be obsessive about checking fb or email or “working on pictures.” I try to balance things but working from home is so hard. I don’t have regular office hours so work off and on all the time. I catch myself doing some of the things on this list and it made me cry. How do you handle working from home and living at home? Thank you so much for this article. And to Jill- if you think “this task” is so simple, I’d question how “normal, caring and involved” you really are. If parenting doesn’t cause you sleepless nights, constant self examination and correction, and a desire to do better by your children, then you are doing something wrong.

    • 78


      Hi Hilary,

      Thank you so much for your willingness to share. It is not easy to accept these difficult truths, but I believe it is from there that change can occur and does occur.

      I can relate to the pressures you describe and the conflict you feel working at home. I work very hard when my children are at school and are asleep. I have had to scale down on extracurricular activities and commitments that were taking time from my writing and my family time. Each day, I have designated time periods when I am completely unplugged and connected to my family. It helps tremendously to shut down the computer totally and turn off all notifications on my phone so there is no temptation to “check.” I know that your customers need to reach you, however it is important to build boundaries into your home life. You can always call them back once that designated time period with your family has ended. But having that uninterrupted “Hands Free” time with your kids will make a tremendous impact on them and also on you. It is not fair to ask yourself to work 24/7. As a recovering “workaholic,” I know these boundaries might seem impossible, but if you begin taking little steps to let go of distraction and connect to your family, you will see the impact immediately. And what you thought was “so important” 5 minutes ago will be put into perspective once you have spent time bonding with your children.

      Here is a post I wrote that you might find helpful. It is an easy list of ways to go “Hands Free.” Start with one step today.

      I wish you luck, my friend. Please keep me posted. I am so glad you are on this journey to grasp what matters with me!

    • 79


      Hilary, I just thought of one more thing that might be helpful. I am constantly gauging how present and engaged I am by asking my children/spouse for feedback. Here are two examples:

      My Secret Life (creating a journal for your child)
      A Description For Healing (asking your children to describe you)

      Hope these ideas give you a starting point. Thanks so much for your interest!

    • 80

      Jenn says

      Great post, Hilary! I too work from home with a job that keeps me locked to a couple of devices. As a marketing/social media professional, my living depends on my ability to capture images or post what is happening right now. I have 3 boys and a husband. I also have a smartphone and a laptop (among other devices we call “time suckers”). I also has an employer who values having a family (hence working from home). We are ALL committed to having technology-free time on a consistent basis. I often “unplug (to coin a line from The Matrix and date myself just a bit)” to be with my kids during a special time or when they need me. Meal times are technology-free, as are movie nights and homework time. But I am not afraid to have my device at tee-ball, Taekwondo or concerts, because it helps me embrace the moment and capture it to share with loved ones – including my kids. My smaller boys LOVE watching themselves doing with they love. All of my kids ham it up on the regular! People need to find balance. Without it, we are lost. It doesn’t take a cell phone or Facebook to become distracted from what is important. First – define what is important and then commit to being engaged. Whatever it takes. My kids will not suffer because I have a smartphone and use every function it offers – regularly. They would suffer if I chose to use it when they needed me most.

  11. 81

    Jeri says

    Consider yourself successful…your hope was to inspire one person to become aware of their phone/computer use and by reading these replies, along with my own awareness, your hope has become a reality! Thank you for writing this! I will be sharing this with my husband as we are both guilty of too much time spent on our phones in front of our son. Yes, we both spend good, quality time with our son without our cell (but it’s never far away) but it’s as you said in your reply to Jill, it’s about being aware of When and How we use our phone. I will also be sharing this blog on the radio station facebook that I work for as I know our listeners will appreciate this blog as well. Thank you again!

    • 82


      Thank you, Jeri! You have truly made my day. Thank you for letting me know my post has made a difference in your life and that you will be taking action. Nothing pleases me more! I also greatly appreciate you sharing this critical message with your radio station FB page. I cannot believe how many views it has had in less than 24 hours (over 20,000) and it is because of those of you who are sharing it! The children of the world thank you and so do I!

  12. 83

    Jennifer says

    Wow, this is exactly what I needed to hear. I spent all day yesterday crying and asking myself over and over again “what is wrong with him?!?”. I have a 4 yr old, 22 mont old, and 4 month old and I am also in College full-time. My 4 year old has been completely out of control. I knew it was from the lack of attention because I am dealing with his brothers a lot and school but I didn’t realize how much of my free time I was excusing as “me” time to speak with other grown ups and feel like an adult. The little bit of time I do have I push him away. I am not an “uninvolved” parent. My kids are always with me and sometimes I think that’s one of the reasons it’s so easy to fall into these habits without even realizing it and to justify it. Thank you for this post and making me reevaluate my free time!

    Oh and about the above commenter, there will always be accusing eyes and criticizing words…typically because of their own guilty conscious or justification. If there is one thing I’ve learned since have 3 kids in such a short period of time, it’s never to judge another parent when you know they are just doing to best they can. Before I had children or even just had one, I judged. I judged that lady in the checkout line with her screaming child laying on the floor kicking. Now I sympathize with her and encourage her when I see everyone else’s criticizing stares. I think it’s nice that you can post this to make parents judge their own behavior and become aware themselves of what they need to change. Kudos to you!

    • 84


      Hi Jennifer, thank you so much for your honesty and realness. I am certain there are many people who will read your post and relate to what you say. Parenting is difficult and when you add on the pressures of work, school, and day-to-day responsibilities, it is easy to take our focus off what really matters and place it elsewhere. I applaud you for taking this deep look inward and to connect your son’s behavior to the amount of attention he had been getting. That is a huge step in itself, and I am certain positive change is going to come from this awareness you have accepted. I would love for you to keep me posted on your progress, Jennifer.

      And thank you also for the comment about not judging other parents. I make a conscious effort to write my posts from an encouraging voice, rather than a condemning or judgmental one. The way I look at it, we are all in this together (in a world of distraction with the pressure to be perfect) so we may as well build each other up, rather than tear each other down. I am grateful 99% of the people who read my posts feel the same. Thank you so much for taking time to comment.

  13. 85


    Wow! What a great article. I see these moms picking up their kids at day care all the time, and they are on the phone totally not paying attention to their children. It makes me so sad. I think I’m pretty present in my son’s life, but will be making an extra effort thanks to this blog!

  14. 87


    I have felt the same empty feeling about technology for a long time. . .unable to control myself and put it down. Last night I was singing a song to my 3 yod and literally had my life flash before me. What I saw in her beautiful little face were the faces of 5 other used to be 3 yods. They are all now pasted this stage but I missed it. The guilt was heavy but the hope was bigger. The hope that if only I look deep into the eyes of my almost 13 yod (and the others), I will regain parts of what I lost. But I must act now or I will lose even those opportunities. As I said good night to my 3 yod, I turned to my 2 yod (Her birthday is TODAY!!) and gave her good night kisses, songs, and prayers like there is no tomorrow. Later in the evening I lay awake in bed praying for a different day this morning. This message was on my FB page and a grace to my day.

    One word of caution in this area. Of course, I also grew up in an era where there were no cell phones for my parents to be distracted by. The one thing I remember my parents saying more than anything to me was “go play.” They were kind about it but that was their favorite phrase. It’s possible to turn off the technology and put away the phone and still not connect. “Go play” comes out of my mouth all the time. In fact, I probably have to break that habit more than my phone habit.

    Thank you again for this post. I might follow your blog. But then again, it might distract me. 😉 (JK – I love the concept. The idea seems to be central to my life these days.)

    • 88


      Thank you for your heart-felt honesty and openness, Karen. What I love about living “Hands Free” is that it can start today, right now when you begin making different choices on how to use your precious time. I am glad you feel hope because there is hope. The fact that you are willing to look inward and make changes in your behavior creates hope. Please keep me posted. I feel a positive change in your life has begun today and much good will come from it. I am so glad you are here.

  15. 89


    Wow… I absolutely have tears in my eyes with your post. I felt the guilty pangs… And in fact, was reading this post on my phone while my little daughter had asked me to comb her hair. I put this down several times to hug her and pay attention… This is life changing for me and I thank you for such beautiful words. As a blogger and one who seems to need more social interaction than others, I struggle with giving my children the time they deserve. I pray I can rise to this beautiful challenge! Many blessings, shalimamma at

  16. 90

    NewMommy2012 says

    Someone shared this on my Facebook and I’m so glad that I got the oportunity to read it. I am pregnant with my first child and I’m due in a few weeks. This made me realize that I don’t want to be that distracted mom, I want to be present at all times and for my son to know that I am ALWAYS here for him. I can remember so many times when I was younger, just wanting my mom’s attention but she’d be too busy on the computer or doing something else… I don’t want that for my son. I want my child to be able to look back on his childhood in 20 or 30 years and remember that his mom and dad were THERE and I mean fully there. Thank you so very much!

  17. 91


    I am so glad that I read this, and I think that it applies to almost all personal relationships, not just those with our children. I get upset with my husband if I feel like his phone/computer/video game is more important than what I want to talk to him about. Thanks for sharing!

  18. 92

    Valerie Coffman says

    What a GREAT blog! As a future teacher I can see how technology has just consumed society. It saddens me when my nieces and nephews would rather play on their parents iPhone or iPad than enjoy the beautiful weather outside. You are absolutely correct… positive role modeling not only behind the wheel, but in life will prove to be the greatest lesson we can teach our children. Thank you for bringing to light an important issue that is simply overlooked, because it has become part of our everyday routine.

    Best wishes!


  19. 93

    Selena says

    WOW!!! I’m so glad someone posted this on facebook. What a wake up call. I am a teacher and I’m guily of doing this to my own children. As soon as I see my baby I will ask them to forgive me for doing that.
    Thank you for this one. AWESOME BLOG

    • 94


      Thank you, Selena. I love what you said here: “As soon as I see my baby, I will ask him/her to forgive me for doing that.” I commend you for not only vowing to make change, but asking for forgiveness. And the beautiful part is that our children ARE forgiving–especially when our words match our actions. Thank you for the beautiful insight you brought here today.

  20. 95


    Such a great post, thanks for the reminder. I am an “older” mom. I have 3 grown children, grandchildren and started all over again and have a 5 yr old daughter. Things have changed so much since I raised my first “batch” of kids. Yes, there were always distractions but I am guilty of being in another world when I am “connected” to these devices. I know how much it annoys me when I am having a “face to face” conversation with someone but they are looking at their phone the entire time they are talking to me. I have often had the urge to waive my hand in front of their face to get them to look at me and I am a grown up!

    • 96


      Thank you so much, Kelli! I appreciate your honesty and willingness to look inward. I also appreciate how you took a moment to think about how YOU feel when you are being ignored by someone staring at a phone. That is powerful and seeing it like that really brings it home. Thanks for taking time to comment.

  21. 97

    Kellie McGee says

    I wanted to put my phone down immediately after reading this, but decided to write something. This is so important for us parents to hear! Thank you for this blog!! This can even apply to other relationships, especially husbands & wives. There are so many distractions that can pull us away from deep and meaningful relationships. We have a better relationship with our computers & phones than we do with people. So, thank you again!!

    • 98


      You are so right, Kellie. This message is valid for ALL relationships, not just with our children. It is important to be mindful of who we might be able to connect with (whether it is our spouse, friend, parent) rather than spending time on the electronic devices. Thank you for sharing this valid point!

  22. 99

    Jennifer Furlong says

    This is exactly what I needed to read. I’ve been feeling so disconnected from my family. In large part that’s due to the overwhelming demands of my job. It keeps me preoccupied all of the time. Last week I submitted my letter of resignation explaining I need more time at home to be a mom and a wife. I’ll still teach part time. After all, money is important too. But my kids will not have to wonder whether they are priority or not. I refuse to miss out on another minute!

    • 100


      Hi Jennifer, I am so inspired by your decision to scale back on what you felt was distracting you from connecting with your family. I love that you are dedicated to being a part of the moments that matter in your family’s life. Thank you so much for taking time to share!

  23. 101

    Marinda says

    What a painfully brutal wake-up call that I desperately needed to read. Thank you for posting this.

  24. 103


    That was me for almost an entire year, I’ve tried so hard the last 12 months to make the change and I have gained SO much from it. Not only from my relationship with my 4-year old daughter, but it has also helped me decrease stress. She has taught me how to be carefree again. Lovely post. : )

  25. 104

    Jaime Allen says

    This was such an amazingly touching, reality checking post. So many of us parents are guilty of this and sucomb to the interruptions & damaging trends of todays society. We all need to read this and take its meaning into consideration to positively adjust our daily lives. Our children need our undivided attention and do cherish every moment their parents spend with them. Thanks for this eye opening post & I will be sure to share.

  26. 105

    Ellie39 says

    I’m all for people putting away their electronics and paying attention to the people around them, but there is an underlying idea here that needs closer examination. Teaching your children that they are the center of the universe and that you are there to constantly please and entertain them is not doing them any favors. Sometimes they need to be bored, so they will learn to amuse and think for themselves. Sometimes they need to learn not to interrupt when others are conversing and that every conversation does not need to include them. If someone feels that he or she isn’t paying enough attention to his or her kids, maybe it’s true, but thinking that you should NEVER be on the phone or engaged in conversation with someone else is creating dependent entitled kids who think everyone should cater to them and helicopter parents. If your kids are so boring that you have to drag yourself off Facebook and force yourself to pretend they are not, maybe you should teach them to be people you WANT to spend time with.
    My daughter is 20, so I am not defending my own habits.

    • 106


      Ellie, suggesting that people look into their children’s eyes when they speak, spend time with them, and show them affection does not equate to “teaching your child he/she is the center of the universe.” Nor does suggesting that people be mindful of when and how they use their electronic devices. There is a problem in our society with people being addicted to checking their phones. You can see it at any park, coffee shop, or airport terminal. There is nothing wrong with these devices themselves or using them–it is when the devices begin to be used so often that relationships are damaged beyond repair. My post does not suggest people abandon technology altogether and sit and stare at their child. My post simply provides an awareness so people can consider their choices when pulling out their electronic devices. 100,000 people have read this post today and many indicated that they grasped that message. In fact, many people have personally let me know how they have already made changes in their phone behavior to spend more time with their children. This does not make “needy” children who cannot play by themselves, this makes children who feel loved and respected who are able to do things independently because they received the attention all children need from their parents.

      • 107

        Ellie39 says

        Rachel, I couldn’t agree more with regard to paying full attention to children (and adults, too!) when they are speaking to you and taking the time, effort, and energy to listen and engage with them instead of electronic devices or other distractions. And I certainly do not deny that there are lots and lots of people out there who are truly neglecting their children in favor of their distracting addiction to being mentally somewhere else while physically present, people who don’t realize the message they are sending to their loved ones. Your piece is a much-needed wake-up call for many many people, and I’m sorry that I did not mention that in my previous post. All I was trying to say is that the idea that you must focus ALL your attention on your children ALL the time is taking in too far in the other direction. You personally may be balancing this well, but I know many parents these days who feel guilty if they do anything at all, EVER, that does not directly relate to their children and the result is not independent well-adjusted children, it’s anxious needy kids who can’t play alone or function independently and anxious guilty parents who put off showering until their kids are asleep and lose all touch with friends and adult activities. Kids need lots of attention, but giving them your constant and complete attention or feeling like you are “doing it wrong” if you don’t is counterproductive. I’m not saying you are advocating this, but the judgment is here. Seeing a parent on the phone picking up a kid or at a sporting event is just a snapshot.

        • 108


          Thank you for clarifying, Ellie. I agree that there is a balance between giving our children the love and attention they need and being overly involved/smothering. My intention of the post was to simply bring awareness to those who had lost touch with the degree in which they use their electronic devices in the presence of their children/loved ones. It was not intended for the parents like you mentioned who make the occasional necessary call while picking up a child or while attending a sporting event. Although, I thought it was inspiring that even some parents that would fall into that category still appreciated the reminder that this post served.

          I was a special education teacher for 10 years to students with behavior issues. Seeing the ramifications of children who do not connect at a meaningful level with their parents was really devastating to me. Perhaps that is why my mission in writing and speaking about what distraction can do to relationships is so near and dear to my heart. It is nice to know that there are people like you who have achieved a healthy balance of connecting with AND building independence in their children. That is truly the ultimate gift. I thank you for sharing your thoughts respectfully and honestly here with me.

      • 109


        Although I do not see anything wrong with most of what you posted here on your blog, and this article is bringing great awareness, and please no offense but you sound smug when you say over 100,000 people read this and managed to grasp the concept, as if to say you can’t handle a negative comment about your writing, or another person’s point of view. I felt both points made were good

  27. 110


    I was forced to retire very early due to my health so I’m home all day alone while my hubby is at work. Because almost all of my friends still work outside the home, my email and text messages are almost my only contact with others during the day.

    I didn’t realize how much time I spent looking at my phone until I was visiting the grandchildren over their spring break. When my 8 year old granddaughter looked at me and said “MiMi, why are you so addicted to that phone?”, I knew two things. My daughter is doing a great job staying connected with her children because she saw my phone addiction as something out of the ordinary. I also knew that it had to stop. How much time was I wasting that I could be sewing, quilting, meal planning? All those things that I’m constantly behind on and couldn’t figure out why.

    Children are full of wisdom if we would just listen.

    • 111


      Hi Cynthia, I really appreciate you sharing your story. I loved your example and how you took what your granddaughter said to heart. You have a very wise granddaughter and kudos to your daughter for role modeling so positively for her. I agree, children are the best teachers if we take time to listen. My children have taught me everything I know about living “Hands Free.” I am so grateful you took the time to share. You sound like a wise woman with a big heart.

  28. 112

    Casey says

    Thank you for this important reminder. I’m thankful to have read this while my first little one is only 6 weeks old.

  29. 114


    “…Mommy would you like to play with us?” my daughters asked in unison, as she ran outside to play. I told them no that I was going to take a break.

    I home school, and it was time for kids play & mom takes break… so I fix my coffee, grab my lap top and go to the porch. I read. They play.

    Guess what I see on Facebook… your post calling me to read, “How to miss a childhood” ~I made it to “…this tragic recipe can be yours.” I closed my laptop, and went outside with my kids!

    Thank you for reminding me… GREAT POST ~ very thought provoking and a make me want to get up and go spend time with my kids!

    • 115


      Amy, you have brought me the biggest smile. I LOVE this! Kudos to you for letting go of distraction to grasp what really matters! I am certain you made a memory or a loving connection in that time period! To know my post made you want to spend time with your kids fills me with joy. There is nothing better to me as a writer. THANK YOU for this gift!

  30. 118

    Anne says

    Thank you for posting. I do hope many young mothers will read and take heed. I am thankful that I did not have all of these distractions in my day. About the only thing we had was a land line phone and very little TV.
    We did spend quality time together then!

  31. 120


    Wow. That was an eye-opener. It is only in the last few years that I have fallen under the “how to miss a childhood” category. I have a nearly 16 year old and nearly 13 year old who never saw me with a phone/iPad/laptop in my hands. I don’t think my 5 year old has ever seen me for a full day without one of those things. I am deeply ashamed. Things are going to change around here starting now. Thank you for an AWESOME and hopefully life-changing post. If you don’t mind, I’d like to share this on my blog. Please let me know.

    • 121


      Thank you, Dawn. I really appreciate your willingness to look inward and consider how you can improve on the choices you are making with your distractions. Please don’t dwell on the past, though. Forgive yourself and let go. Today is a new day and living “Hands Free” can start the moment you let go of distraction to grasp what matters. I am honored that you would like to share the post on your blog. Thank you for helping to spread this critical message.

  32. 122


    I want to love this post and rah-rah-rah for the message at its core: that our children need our attention and presence. But I find it’s delivered with the “you’re doing it wrong” tone that creates unnecessary guilt in so many of us mothers just struggling to do the best we can. Ellie39 makes some very good points as well. Kids need love and attention as well as independent time where they learn to exist in the world without having their hands held.

    • 123


      As someone who pointed out several times in the blog post how she herself lost precious moments because of distraction, I am confused as to how my post is critical or judgmental towards others (implying, as you said, that I am doing it right and others are doing it wrong). My post was written to spare others from the regret I feel from losing 2 years of my children’s lives because of my distractions. My post was written to bring a heightened awareness to well-intentioned parents who unknowingly get lost in their distraction due to the pressures of the 21st century. 100,000 people have read this today and have indicated through an overwhelmingly positive response that the message was received as it was intended … as a gift.

      As far as Ellie’s comments, you can read my response below hers.

      • 124


        I agree with Suburban Snapshots. I like the idea of your message, but it is delivered from a pedestal. No need to get so defensive about it. We’re entitled to our opinions.

        And to think of your blog post is a “gift” is a bit much. Blech.

        • 125

          Tara says

          I didn’t get the impression that this message was delivered from a pedestal. Maybe people read into it what they want to. I love this post because it doesn’t just speak to our relationship with our kids; our relationships with spouses, other family members, and friends will also suffer whenever we allow our gadgets to take precedence over our interactions with those people. It’s a wise warning, and therefore is a gift to all who will heed it.

  33. 126

    Michelle says

    For some reason, this felt extremely relevant to me today. I cannot thank you enough for these reminders about what is truly important.

    Tonight is “Gallery Night” at school. Silenced phone will be at the bottom of my zipped up purse. Looking forward to some uninterrupted together time with my kid.

    • 127


      Thank you so much, Michelle. You captured it so simply here. Turning off the phone and putting it at the bottom of the purse so you can give your undivided attention to your child for a designated amount of time is not hard to do … and when your child looks out and sees you smiling back, the reward is immeasurable. I really appreciate you letting me know!

  34. 128

    Amy says

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!!!!!!!!

    I needed this not only for my children but also for my marriage! I haven’t been able to read all of your posts yet but I would love to know how this has impacted you marriage also!

  35. 130

    Diana says

    I think my whole family needs work in this area. We have a 13 year old daughter who got an iphone for her birthday and who is never without it….we are never far from our phones either. There are times at a table in a restaurant when we are ALL staring at our phones completely ignoring one another. We have said it is a “comfortable silence”, but honestly, there could have been wonderful memories made during those times. Mandatory “phone off” time will be coming to our house! For daughter AND Mom and Dad!

  36. 131

    Debbie Peters says

    This not only speaks true for parents but for grandparents as well. We need to help make memories for our grandchildren so they will carry those with them throughout their lives!! Yes times have changed but the things that are most important to a child have not!! YOU ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN YOUR CHILD’S/GRANDCHILD’S LIFE AND IF YOU DON’T GRASP IT NOW YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO CHANGE THINGS WHEN THEY ARE TEENAGERS!! They will reach out to anyone that makes them feel important and that isn’t always the best person for them!!

    • 132


      Thank you, Debbie. Your words are beautiful, powerful, and deeply moving. Your wisdom is evident. You know what you are talking about. I am listening with my heart and soul … and I hope others are, too. Thank you. Thank you.

  37. 133

    Kim says

    Bravo! Well said! I would add a personal story….I was talking one day with my 8 yr old niece and commented that I’d like to become a “N” like her mama. She got all teary and cried to me, “PLEASE, NO!” I asked why and she responded that if I did that then I would always be TOO BUSY TOO, just like her mama. This was an eye opener for me.

    • 134


      Oh wow, Kim. You bring up a good point … the children will tell it like it is. I often ask my children specific questions to find out how I am doing on my “Hands Free” journey because I may try to convince myself I am not spending too much time writing, but they will tell it to me straight. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience!

  38. 135


    this is a great reminder for me…I often struggle with the balance of working full time and my 2 small children. I’ve arranged my work schedule so i’m only away in an office 15 hours a week but that still leaves another 25 hours each week I work at home while taking care of my kids…and it’s not an easy balance at all. Thank you for some easy tips to follow and start this process as you have to start somewhere.

    • 136


      You are so welcome, Erin. I am grateful to know you are open to these suggestions and willing to make changes for the sake of your children. It is messages like yours that fuel me to continue sharing my triumph and struggles on this journey!

    • 138


      Kim, thank you for your honesty and willingness to go to the difficult place of awareness and acceptance. Just know that I remember those exact feelings … it hurts … but life changed from that moment. I began making different choices on how I spent my precious time. I wish you the best. Keep me posted!

  39. 139

    Tanja A says

    Thank you Rachel for this blog/post. I shared it on my Facebook Page, for me personally it was a real eye-opener, sad but true

    best wishes from Germany

    Tanja A.

    • 140


      Hi Tanja! What a bright spot in my day to see this message from you … all the way from Germany! I am grateful that you took the time to share the post on your page. Because of you, this post reached 100,000 views and is still going strong! The children of the world thank you and so do I.

  40. 141

    TK says

    Thank you. This has been on my mind heavily the last couple of days. Today I made a huge improvement, but tomorrow, the iPhone stays on the shelf. Period. I’ve (sadly) already asked my son to ask us to remove our phone/computer if he EVER sees them at the table. They almost never are, but almost isn’t good enough. You hear a chime, you run to check your phone. You think of something funny,…you have to get to your phone to share it. You need to add a reminder…phone. I’m going to go old school and keep a note pad & a pen (gasp! lol). After the kids are in bed, I can transfer anything truly important into my phone. I will NOT miss another important moment in my children’s lives. Thank you for having the courage to write this. Thank you.

    • 142


      Thank you, TK. I love that you have included your son in holding you accountable for the changes you are making in being more connected to what really matters. My children are really good at keeping the Hands Free Mama in check. They are my greatest inspiration and my greatest teachers when it comes to being Hands Free! I love your idea of “going old school” and jotting notes on a pad of paper. It is really brilliant. Because you are so right … you go to do one thing on your phone and it turns into a 20 minute period of distraction. Thank you so much for taking time to share your insight!

  41. 143


    Wonderful post with great insight, as usual. I am of the balance camp. When I’m with my girls, I”m with my girls. Now, do I sneak a peak to email when they are playing, absolutely, but when we are playing together everything is off. And, the result is that my house is an utter disaster most of the time. : )

    • 144


      Shawn, thank you for taking time to share. You are one of my greatest sources of “Hands Free” inspiration. I must confess, I am so relieved to know your house is a disaster because that is one of the things I had to “let go” of to grasp what matters. But I am OK with spending more time playing and less time cleaning and picking up. In fact, life has never been better!

  42. 145

    Sara says

    I am a step mother, of an amazing 10 year old girl, I love more than I ever knew I could love a person. Not having had children of my own, I was not only a new mother, but a new mother of 7 year old.

    My husband, always knowing what’s most important has never once put anything except his daughter first. Always making family plan, day trips to the beach, walks in parks, bike rides, museums, anything to engage and interact. Me on the other hand, am a self proclaimed type A, workaholic, controlling, OCD person. I know it sound bad on paper, but I’m super organized and great at everything…..or so I thought.

    My husband some how opened my eyes to see….for the first time really SEE what I was missing out on, and not just with my daughter, but with my life! It wasn’t just not making family time, it was not being present, really present at anything.

    As I look around my living room full of family photos and craft projects with my daughter I am so thankful.

    I am thankful that I listened, that he didn’t give up on me, that I remind myself every day of what’s really important in the BIG picture, and that other people will have the opportunity to know this though your article.

    Thank you!!

    • 146


      Hi Sara, what a beautiful testimony you share. And what an incredible husband you have. I am thankful he didn’t give up on you and that you had the courage to change. I know all too well the Type A, controlling tendencies … they are not easy to overcome. So I applaud you and I thank you for providing hope for me and for those who read your story. THANK YOU!

  43. 147

    Linde Lodwick says

    Thankyou Rachel, what a fantastic post, as it puts out there what we see everyday…………and every now and then it does not hurt for us to be brought back to think about the way we do things.
    I have 2 daughters who i love to spend as much time with as possable but yes the phones are a common attachment, never with out them………. saddly on occasions i have said to them while out shopping please put the phone away and lets spend the time together…………”yes mum” is the usaul reply, but with that last push of the button. Now dont get me wrong i dont believe they do this on purpose as this sadly is the way things are now days, its also a fact that your children have grown up. But i now have 2 beautiful grand daughters and i must say how lovely it is that when they see me come to the door i can here them yell out, “Nan, Nan” I’m smiling before the door is even opend. I spend as much precous time with them as possable, reading books, playing cars, horses, anything which interests them, as they along with my 2 girls & husband are the most important piroraties in my life. Oh and yes, i do own a cell phone, but it gets checked of a night or if i’m on my own. If it goes off while i’m with the children it waits (unless its their mum of course who is on a certain ring tone)

    • 148


      Linde, I really appreciate hearing your perspective as both a mother and as a grandmother. From your insightful and heartfelt comments, I can tell you are a loving and present woman. What a blessing you must be to your daughters and granddaughters. I am thankful you chose to share your wisdom here today. Thank you!

  44. 149


    Wow! Talk about conviction … and I’m not even a mom or married yet! I’m one of those young adults who decided to do college through an Online Program. That’s not a bad thing in itself, but I realize now that my practically technically void childhood and teenage years turned into an electronic addiction. I realize now that I spend so much attention and time on my laptop (I’ve never even touched one before college) that I have neglected so many people who are so much more important. Thank you SO MUCH for this wake-up call!

    • 150


      Thank you, Rebekah! I am so thrilled to know this post resonated with people from all walks of life. I commend you for taking an honest look at how you can be more connected to what really matters. I would love for you to keep me posted. Thank you so much for being here!

      • 151


        Thanks for responding to my comment. Sorry that I didn’t see it before now. Except for in regards to my own blog, I have not been on my laptop much (yay!), and thus, didn’t think to check back until today. I never realized how incredibly hard it would be to cut back so much on time spent on my laptop (once I tried not to be on it, I noticed just how addictive it’d become because I thought about it hourly!). Thankful to say that I’m no longer having withdraws. It’s been hard, but it’s also been really, really good for me. Thank you again for helping me see what had taken place and giving me the desire to change it!

  45. 152


    Put simply, this post changed my life. From the depths of my heart thank you for these words. They are truly inspiring and such a blessing to me.

  46. 154

    Brittany says

    Thank you. I try so very hard to be fully there for my kids. I read this to my husband crying. He is so distracted and so often misses the important things because of facebook games and phone calls. I only hope this will help him change as well. If only for the sake of our four small children.

    • 155


      Brittany, my heart goes out to you. I am sorry that your husband is distracted and disconnected from what truly matters. I pray that your plea got through to him tonight. Your children are truly blessed to have a mother like you who wants to give them the most meaningful childhood she can. I will be thinking of you and hoping today is a day of new beginnings in your home.

  47. 156

    Sara says

    Can I first off tell you I cried as i started reading this post, a few more time as I continued to read the post, then a few more and continue to tear up as I have spent my past two hours after babes went down for bed reading more and more and more of your posts.

    I am 100% joining you in this revolution. I feel almost as though this is what i’ve been waiting for.

    My distractions came a little differently – I became a military wife and mommy within 4 days of eachother and found myself pregnant with baby #2 when my first was only 4 months old. So for me, distraction was a way to feel connected to my husband who has been away for a year and a half of the past two, to my friends and family that I’ve moved away from and to seek out reassurance through all of the blogs, articles, pins, pages etc that I am doing a good job at this mom thing.

    Tomorrow is my day one…thank you.

  48. 162

    Leah says

    This is such a great commentary on what is happening to our society. It’s not just affecting how the children are being raised, but how people interact in their marital relationships as well as friendships. Everyone is obsessed with the cell phone and everything it can do. Everyone feels lost if they don’t have it because they need to be “connected”, however, they are less emotionally connected than ever. They are constantly distracted with numerous contacts, games, etc, to the point it is impossible to have any real connection to anyone. Everyone really needs to wake up and realize they are allowing an electronic device control their life and rob them of what is really important and enjoyable in life.

  49. 165


    My heart aches for the millions of children who are experiencing this in their fragile, innocent lives right now. I see it in my some of my friend’s lives, and it angers me. I see it in my own life, and it breaks my heart. I have continually been convicted of this very thing, and being a SAHM makes it SO difficult to set boundaries and create rules for social networking and online time. At least for me…
    This post has confirmed for me, in a very, very real way, that it DOES tangibly make a difference how much we are on our devices. Around our kids, spouses, Church, friends, work… It scares me for the future. The technology is only going to get “better,” require more constant involvement, and I fear for the future generations. Lord, open our eyes!

  50. 166


    Thank you for posting. It’s hard to set limits. Went to the zoo a few weeks ago and saw a mom on her phone, passed by several times. Not once did she put the thing down or look at her kids. Broke my heart.

  51. 170

    Jen says

    Well, sadly…. I’m this awful person. I’ve had my iPhone for over a year, and it rules my life. I have 2 wonderful, beautiful, amazing children who have most recently started telling me that I’m always on my phone and they hate it. They are ages 9 and 5. I stay at home with them, do everything with them and for them, yet I guess I really haven’t been doing everything for them! I am the one who listens to them “partially”, tells them to go outside and play with their toys, and misses tons of their happiest smiles throughout the day- all because of my iPhone!
    It’s awful to have my daughter wave a book in front of my face, asking me three times to read it. It’s awful to have my son raise his voice to get my attention because he needs help with his homework. This phone is ruining my life!!!

    I’m devoted to my family and I don’t make much time for myself. I find that my phone connects me to others. Helps me to live vicariously ( in a silly way ), and helps me to connect and vent. It’s a shitty thing to hide behind. I wish I had the strength for a family re-org! Someone I could hire to come in and reorganize and re-prioritize my time so that everything isn’t always about everyone else. But I love doing things for my family. All in all, this painful story above is me. Very very tough to admit, but I still love my kids as much as you do. The realization of this will change my family life…. And my life too ! And the best part is that my kids are going to be so excited to finally have their mommy… Wholeheartedly, unconditionally, 100%. And boy are they gonna get tired of lookin at me!!! But hopefully, it will be all smiles. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this story. My kids thank you too! ❤

  52. 171

    Kyla says

    Wow. I came across this tonight after a friend posted it on her fb. Had me in tears!! Just wow, what an eye opener to me. I am a SAHM of a 3 year old girl and 2 year old twin boys. I never realized how my actions of using a phone could be so damaging! Going to be changing that!! Thank you for this post!!

  53. 173


    Thank you for this gut-wrenching post. I actually had to stop reading it a few times because I was so convicted. In the last month or so I have been feeling this tug, this nagging that my life is too distracted. God used you tonight in an amazing way; just thought you might like to know. My kids won’t know who to thank, but they are going to have a “present-in-the-moment” Mama from here on out!

  54. 174

    Anthony Hildoer says

    Why has no one mentioned the fact that having your kids in daycare to begin with IS missing their childhood? As bad as a phone-obsessed parent is texting while pushing their kid on the swing, how bad is the parent that pays someone else to take care of their child entirely? Obviously, there are exceptions, such as one-parent homes, etc. But, we are not talking about exceptions, we are talking about ideals here. Because if we are including exceptions, then obviously the parent who is a surgeon can interrupt their child mid-sentence in order to respond to a page for them to come save a life.

    In short, if you can’t participate in your children’s child hood while being physically present and mentally distracted, you certainly can’t participate if your are physically removed no matter how mentally engaged you think you are.

  55. 177

    Laura R says

    Thank you for this post. Very eye opening. I hate to admit it but i think i am adducted to checking my phone, while at lights, at the park with the kids etc. Really made me realize i do this more than i realize. Thank you.

  56. 178


    What a wonderful post and I couldn’t agree with you more. We’ve been traveling the world as a family non-stop since 2006 and even though we live a digital life, we purposely do not have a smart phone and almost never use our cell phone.

    We do have laptops but are rarely on them when our child is around. Our primary reason for our world travel ( to 44 countries on 5 continents so far on $23/day per person) is to have TIME with each other to bond and to educate her.

    We see people doing this around the world..lost in their phones, not present or connected. Truly sad for kids and passing on this addiction to them so early..quieting them with apps and addicting them to games.

    UNPLUGGED is today’s biggest luxury.

  57. 180

    Carol Neilson says

    And the inverse is true: I think the same when I see kids in cars mesmerized by tvs or handheld games, or sitting in restaurant tables playing with mom or dad’s cellfone, or playing handheld video games…more missed opportunities for talk time with the kids. So glad mine grew up before that stuff.

  58. 181

    Moi says

    I too am self-employed and self-motivated and don’t have regular office hours… nto quite addicted to this media, but I have a suggestion just the same – a fun one that’s worked for me when it comes to making lists, etc… having a fun notebook and pencil along.

    I’ve got moleskines, field notes, and the like usually… need them to remind me of things on my mind so it doesn’t drift during important moments but know what? I tend to pass those along to the kids too so that they draw little pictures inside and years down the line, I can see these with a smile. 🙂 Nice article.

  59. 182


    I’ve never read your blog before, but someone posted this on Facebook (no, the irony is not lost on me…but it IS 6AM here and my littles are still snug in their beds). This SO needed to be said. The Mister and I remark almost DAILY about how sad it is to see parents out for “quality time” with their kids and they text through the whole thing. The saddest was the child in the baby swing at the park who was stranded…the swing had stopped swinging but the parent was too busy texting to get her out or start pushing again. If you have ANY interest in submitting this for publication you should do it. This message NEEDS to reach a wider audience. Like I said, I’ve never read your blog before, but I just added you to my feed. I too have a disease and need to set limits for myself regarding my technology usage.

  60. 184

    Ellen says

    It should be called “How to miss a life.” I don’t have kids because of a chronic illness, but this stuff applies to my life, too. I hate the feeling of getting so absorbed in electronic media that I miss what’s important around me, and get sad when I want to tell my husband something, or my parents, and they just say, “Uh huh” without looking away from their phones.

  61. 186

    Gretchen says

    A Facebook friend posted a link to this article, and I’m so glad she did. I’ve not seen your blog before this, but I will be back to read more.
    I do enjoy my phone and my laptop, but don’t feel that technology is quite as much my distractor as it is for some. I am distracted and preoccupied nonetheless. I have an endless list of craft or home projects that I’m chronically working on, and my children have received many of the exasperated responses from me that you describe while I’m engaged in one of my projects. That is not the kind of mother I pictured myself being… I do feel quite frequently like I’m missing their childhoods, or great quantities of them, because of my chronic preoccupation. I can psychoanalyze and justify, but the bottom line is, this is the only time they will be 2 & 6 years old, it won’t pass my way again, and I don’t want to miss it.
    I can’t thank you enough for the reminder. For today, I will listen, look them in the eyes, and not sigh when asked to participate in their lives. God bless you. 🙂

  62. 187

    Jeni says

    WOW, what an amazing article that everyone should really read. This hits home to probably 95% of the people out there (with or without kids). Certainly makes me want to get rid of my iphone and get a pay as you go “communication device”.

  63. 188

    Steph Calvert says


    I love everything about this, and have been working on this for a while with lots of success. But I’m trying to do this on a broad scale, so I have great one on one time with my husband and friends, too.

    And everyone I know can easily say nope you had your phone out when we hung out! But it’s a journey, and I’m still working on it.

    It’s a hard balance to strike when you’re self employed and your whole business is Internet-based. You don’t want to miss an opportunity for a freelance design project!

    But you also don’t want to miss out on life.

  64. 190

    Alex says

    Thanks for the article, it’s given me the chance to reflect on how I’m doing things, and that I’m doing pretty well! This question has come up before for me, and I totally remember getting annoyed at being interrupted while trying to achieve something on the laptop. I realised that’s not fathering, and so my decision now is that it’s (like you mentioned) about choosing consciously and with adult thinking “what am I dedicating this moment to?”
    In the moment that I’m on the computer – working or surfing – that’s what I’m doing. When I’m exercising I AM EXERCISING. And when I’m with my kids, there’s nothing else I’m doing, nothing else I’m focusing on. I never use my computer or phone for more than the briefest of moments when I’m with my children, and that feels great. They know they have an actual dad who knows how special and interesting they are, and they know they are important.
    Thanks for reminding me of how far I’ve come, and thanks for spreading the awareness to others!

  65. 191

    Kelly says

    wow, what a challenging post. I don’t have a smartphone, but I inserted computer/laptop as I was reading and talk about conviction. Thank you for writing this post.

  66. 192


    WOW…. just wow. I’m so guilty of this. My daughter deserves so much better than that. My husband and I have talked about this before, in the driving aspect. I remember as a child, playing the A-Z game with my parents while driving, or the license plate game. Now it’s so easy and addicting to just pull out the phone and play Draw Something or Angry Birds. Thank you for this solid and gentle reminder.

  67. 194


    Thank you, thank you so much for this post. This sorely needed to be said. I re-posted it to Facebook (I have lots of Mommy-friends) and to my own blog, I think your wise words will do a lot of good; I know they will with me and my family. God bless you!

  68. 195


    Amid all the inane, borderline-illiterate blogs out there that focus on how to paint pallets or repurpose old tea tins, this highly literate, intelligent, and touching post really stands out. Thank you for writing it, and for giving me some food for thought to go with my breakfast.

  69. 196

    Momto4 says

    Thank you! This was so timely because I was just thinking how attached we are to our electronic devices. I was just making more of an effort to be “present” for my children not just visible. Even my teens need that attention – they won’t admit it though!

  70. 197

    Lindsey Keller says

    This is exactly the reason that I got rid of my ‘smart phone’ and will never go back! I really hope this trend catches on! It saves so much money and you can enjoy life again! Smart phones are addicting and they should never take priority over any real life person. Be with the people you are with at the moment.

  71. 198

    mamamia says

    Thanks for this. Just last night my daughter asked me if we could have a “computer-free” day today. I’m grateful at least that she’s comfortable enough to let me know that my distraction has gone too far or gone on for too long. She always brings me back. However, that is not to place the responsibility on her–it’s up to me to remember that she won’t always be little.

  72. 199


    How to miss anyone’s life. It goes two ways. When some of my older kids come to visit or when I am with friends, I often feel neglected because they spend an inordinate amount of time with the little box in their hand and I am just a distraction. I feel it is rude. That being said, I also think that spending so much time on computers and phones is a symptom of a deep need to connect and a terrible loneliness that we experience in our lives. In the days when I was a child, my mother got together with other mothers after the kids went to school, they had tea and coffee, crocheted together , went to lunch at each other’s houses and shopped with friends while still caring for their babies. There was a connectedness that is no longer there. So as an adult, you are alone in a world bringing up small children and there are no friends, adult family members or any real adult relationships in your life. It becomes terribly lonely. Loneliness is the disease. People won’t stop with the phones and computers until there is a real shake up in our society so that a connectedness in every day life can occur. I am so sorry for all of you out there that are so lonely. I struggle with that too, even though I rarely use my phone. Reach out to more than your kids, find adults in your life that you can connect to.

  73. 200

    Lisa says

    Realistically, I’m not gonna be able to give up the phone altogether, but this blog post certainly makes me want to put it down a lot more often when my kids need & deserve my full attention. I may have to read this moving post every morning for a month before it sinks in, but any reminder at all to focus on what really matters may help me avoid the terrible horrible unending miserable pain of Regret I feel anytime I wish I’d done something differently regarding my kids. I love them SO much, and yet somehow I’m still compelled to do most of the crappy things on this bloggers list of What NOT To Do. I don’t like what that says about me as a parent, as a human, but I’m the only one who can change it. I’m taking a screen shot of the “bad things” list and making it my phone wallpaper so I’ll see it every time I pick it up, and hopefully, if my kids need me more, I’ll put it back down.

    • 201

      Christina says

      Ditto. Word for word… ditto!

      Thank you Rachel. The phone will stay in the car charging during his game tonight.

  74. 202


    I just love this article. I think that we as parents can become distracted by so many things, but phones are so easy and with us all the time. I find myself checking emails and Facebook on my phone just out of habit! This was very eye opening. Thanks

  75. 203

    A says

    Good article but I would think if one were to go hands free so they could make memories with their kids they wouldn’t be sitting on the computer writing a blog while there kids are still awake doing things. Going hands free is 1 step, the other if your going to take it to such a drastic level, or make a list of over exaggerations from using your cell phone and the horrible effects it has on our children then you would think she would take it to the next step by not being wired in anyway while your children are awake.

  76. 204

    Luke McF says

    Wow, I am not a parent and will probably and will never be but this is not just about how to maintain a relationship with your child but significant other and adults. I just came out of a 3 year relationship and one of our major issues was I felt I was not as important as her IPhone, IPad or laptop. When I wanted her attention I had to take away her devices so I could have a conversation with her. When I would complain that she was paying too much attention to her other boyfriends her response was don’t be jealous and she would get upset because I asked her to shut off Hulu+ or put down angry bird and talk to me. I can only wonder if she had read this post if things would be different now.

  77. 205

    Maren says

    Thank you for your post! I will have to make your blog a favorite. I don’t have a cool phone, but I do spend too much time on the computer (which is why I decided not to get a smart phone). I am trying to find ways to be more balanced in my screen time and my time with kids. Thank you for your courage to post your thoughts.

  78. 206

    Kristina says

    Omg THANK YOU so much for this article. It has brought me to tears because I am guilty of everything you listed. I cannot count how many times my children have said “Mommy PLEASE get off your phone & play with me!” There were moments I started to aknowledge I may be addicted to technology or more specifically my phone but I would always justify it by telling myself I am not the only one & it’s just the way it is these days. I am 100% on board with being a hands free mommy! I feel relieved actually! Having too be available too my cell 24/7 has been exhausting! It seems we are all slaves too our phones. Thank you again!

  79. 207

    Jesse says

    Thank you for sharing this – it has woken me up!
    You don’t realize how it’s affecting your children until you sit down and think about it.

  80. 208


    This article was super good and super convicting. My whole goal is to make life more meaningful, but I am addicted to my cell phone. I’m there with my kids, but the moment it beeps, I’m at the phone. Thank you for this reminder. I just posted it to my facebook and am going to do a follow up post and link back to you on my own site tomorrow. Thanks!

  81. 209


    Most of us are guilty (at different degrees) of this. It is not only the phone, but many other things. Even though I agree with you 100% I find myself doing many of this things over and over.
    I stopped reading this half way and went to play with the kids, came back later to finish it!
    Thank you for the reminder!!!

  82. 210

    Lisa G. says

    I am so glad I read this. I am guilty of putting my phone before my family. This morning I told my boys I read the article and told them I realized I spend too much time using it when I’m with them. I apologized and asked them to forgive me. A moment later, my kids were engaged. “Mom, I’m not going to play my DS on the way to school this morning – I’m gonna talk to you instead.”. 

    On the way to school I learned the Little Green Frog song and my boys were smiling when they got out of the car at school. They rarely wave bye, turning their attention to their greeter as they walk in to school.

    This morning they waved bye and watched over their shoulder as I pulled away.

    I never realized how much I’ve been missing.

  83. 213


    I don’t even have a smartphone. Just a basic phone that sends and receives calls, does basic texting. I am a grandmother but I see so many of my younger generation family involved with their smartphones as you pictured above. I am posting this hoping ot help someone find their way out of the distraction! Thank you so much for your honesty!

  84. 214


    Thanks so much for this. I only got a smart-phone about 3 months ago but I notice that I spend WAY too much time looking at it. It’s just too easy to think of something and look it up.
    I look forward to reading through your blog.
    Thanks for being willing to speak out and take the heat that may come from it.

  85. 215

    Sandizona says

    ……(just was bawling my eyes out)….now still sobbing. My stepdaughter posted this article on her FB page and I’m so happy we have the social media to get this article out there. So read it, internalize it, and close up the computer, turn off your cell phones and grab your kiddos’. Go do something if you can, or simply look at one another, give lots of hugs & kisses, hold hands, walk, skip, jump, push the swing or even the wheelchair, take photos, frame them, do the simple things life has to offer. Those are what will matter most!!! I would love to have coffee with the mom who wrote the article, and hug and cry with her too. Her words went straight to my heart and mind…… I’m very touched by her honest outlook of TODAY! xo xo xo xo Birth mom of two, Step mom of two, Nana to 11, Former Day Care Mom to over 25. aka Sandi ♥

    • 216


      Thank you, Sandizona. What a beautiful message. Thank you for the loving words about my post. You sound like someone I would love to have coffee with along with so many of the other open, honest, and heart-felt people who have come here today! I wish I could reply to everyone’s comments … I am completely overjoyed by the response and reach of this post … and more importantly, how it is impacting lives. Thank you, Sandizona and everyone for coming here to read and consider, whether you agree or not, I am grateful for those who took time to read my message.

  86. 218

    Jennifer W says

    I read a very similar article WAY back in 2005 but the focus was on being in the moment rahter than just at the event. It encouraged us to put down our cameras and video recording devices and just WATCH…ENJOY…and capture the memory in our heart and mind. I have followed that advice and it has made a difference. I still take plenty of pictures but i try to take them before and after the event and very few or none at all during. I certainly do enjoy a lot more things. 🙂

  87. 219


    I am a grandmother of two, and I often think about how life was when I was growing up. We didn’t have things like cell phones, video games, and what-not; we had to actually *talk* to each other. We knew who our neighbors were, we spent time together as a family in some pretty extraordinary places, and family actually mattered.

    I watch my granddaughters growing up, and already, I see them doing things like grabbing their mother’s cell phone when it rings and taking it to her as if it’s life itself. That makes me very sad. Too much time spent with “conveniences” makes for a very unhappy childhood…

  88. 220

    Alyssa says

    I’m not even a mom but I loved your post. Certainly applies to areas of life other than motherhood!

    I had this ‘aha’ moment when I was trying on wedding dresses before my wedding; my mom was talking on her phone the entire time and not paying attention to any of my selections. It deeply hurt my feelings, and I decided that when I have children I am going to be present and active in their lives!
    I don’t have kids yet but I am already putting it into practice with the little boy I babysit 2 times a week. I put the phone down and actually play with him, and I end up having more fun with him than if I were texting someone or surfing the web on my silly phone.

    Awesome post!

  89. 221

    Courtney says

    What a fantastic and beautiful post. After emailing to all of my contacts, and sharing on FB I started thinking about it more and more. How this applies to all our relationships; marriages, friendships, etc. I call it the lost art of communication. It is so refreshing to have a reminder like this. Phones off, computers off, family together. Thanks for such a powerful post!

  90. 222

    Stace says

    I understand where you are coming from here but am, too, a bit confused at how a blog is supposed to lead me to be unplugged. Especially when the author has replied to the blog over 40 times in the last 2 days. I agree that we need to connect with our kids. I also think that they need to learn to play by themselves now and then. I work and my kids go to school and I always thought that I would want to spend very minute outside of that with them- but, ya know what? I don’t. I love them enough to need my own time and sometimes that time is spent on the computer or texting. I’m not a bad mom for that. I’m not a bad mom for sending them to daycare when they were little either. They are independent, self driven, reliable kids and I believe that is because they learned early on that those traits are very important to a happy life.

    • 223

      April says

      Agreed. While I agree that many of us spend too much time plugged in, the last thing moms need is another reason to feel guilty that they don’t put enough time into their children. Mothers who take time for themselves set a good example for their children. If your me time is checking in on facebook or responding to Blog posts, good for you. It is all about moderation. The last thing I need is someone judging me as a bad mother for taking a phone call as I close a car door.

  91. 224


    This is so true, there are times when i’m home “just checking my e-mails” etc & i am missing out on that special time. I should be with them & worrying later.

    Lets face it, our blogs would survive if it had to wait a few hours 🙂

    Beautiful post

  92. 226

    Michelle says

    I was so disheartened a few months ago when I saw a mom and dad with their young son at a restaurant. Both parents were engrossed in their smart phones and the little boy was bored and fidgeting in his seat. It made me very sad.

  93. 227


    thank you for all your efforts that you have put in this. Very interesting info. “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” by Clive Staples Lewis.

  94. 228

    Meg says

    I find myself capturing a Childhood with my iPhone. As a stay home Mommy, I use my phone to take 50 pictures a day along with video of every experience my daughter & I have… At the end of the day we look through the pictures and we often use the iPad to read a few books before bed. Skype with Grandparents & Aunties, call cousins…. It’s too bad people don’t always use their technology for good not evil… 😀

  95. 229


    This actually made me cry. I was sitting at work trying to figure out what work to take home tonight, and it made me realize the work will be here tomorrow. Tonight I will play some baseball with my son and enjoy my evening with him. Thank you for the reminder.

  96. 230


    Great Site. I don’t think anyone should feel ashamed here. Just enlightened. When we know better, we do better and “better” is defined differently for everyone. I am a single mom of a 12 and 8 year old. I own and run my own business out of my home so I can be more “hands on” with my kids. It just so happens that what I do for a living is Mobile Marketing, Text Message Marketing, and Apps and Smartphone/Tablet Training. My work is my phone. I make a living and support my children this way. When I was a photographer for 12 years, they saw me with a camera in my hand all the time….so it is not always so black or white. I TOTALLY AGREE with the message of hands free, and I need that reminder daily. But my children and I have also set aside “work times” or phone times and no phone times. We have discussed and made an agreement that when they need my attention they say mom, please look at me, and I immediately get unplugged from the distraction and focus on them. We have rules, no phones allowed near meal time. We don’t take them to church, school, or to movies or outdoor family playtime. We have a family game night every Friday, and mom does not is just for them. And I still lay with them every night before bed to say prayers…when it’s quiet and it’s just us, the bonding and sweet blessings that come from that time. SO…we are aware…and doing the very best we know how to do. What I do know is my children can tell you they are valued, loved, safe and mommy is accessible when I need her……and couldn’t be more proud of me 🙂 Thank you for sharing this message. It is a daily struggle of balance I play everyday as so many of us do. However, to completely unplug and go to the other extreme is not healthy either. Technology is advancing at the speed of light and what is to come will blow your mind. Our 5 year olds are learning in school with iPads. Which brings me to my last point. My kids look at my phone as another video game. They do not get to use it or play too often, but when i do let them, WE play angry birds, or words with friends together, same interaction we had when we played barbies…except barbie is now a virtual dress up doll on a website. You can use your smartphone to connect with your children, face to face and have fun doing it….just leave it at home when you go for your bike ride! 🙂 Many Blessings from a blessed mom!

  97. 231


    This was great. I’m trying to do a hands-free Saturday and Sunday every week, but have yet had the self discipline to do so (I know, I know, how sad is that). But these have been wonderful reminders. Thank you!

  98. 232


    Guilty… thanks for the wake up call (pun not intended!). A powerful message that hits home as I sit here on the computer just now, while my daughter is in the lounge room, eating her brekky in front of the tv. But I’m organising accommodation for us when we travel south for a conference next month, so I’m completely justified in doing so (says I with jest and lots of guilt!). Time to turn off the computer and switch on the interaction with my beautiful little girl growing up before my eyes.

  99. 233

    Trish D says

    Hi Rachel,
    this is Brooklyn, thank you for helping my mom get off the computer more, we had fun reading your blog!

    • 234


      Hi Brooklyn, I feel like I know your mom because she joined me on this journey right from the beginning. I am so grateful she has shared with me how her life and your life have been changed by my messages. Nothing gives me greater joy than knowing I helped one mother and one daughter become closer and make meaningful memories together that will last forever. Thank you for writing to me. Please give your mom a big hug for me.

  100. 236

    Debbie Kate says

    I’ve never read your blog before but I would like to print this post, put it in a pretty frame, and display it prominently in my home (crediting the source, of course). Thank you.

  101. 237

    Sean says

    I don’t understand how you can make all of these claims as you are writing a blog. Seems a little hypocritical to say the least. Telling everyone you are hands free and writing a blog about it is a little different than actually going hands free and not seeking the satisfaction of the online community. Just Sayin!

    • 238


      Thanks for your thoughts, Sean. Living “Hands Free” on my personal journey does not mean abandoning technology altogether. In fact, I think most everyone can agree technology, the Internet, and even social networking sites like Facebook are not “bad” — they can actually be highly beneficial to our lives. It is how and when we CHOOSE to use them that can be harmful to our lives and our relationships.

      Living “Hands Free” on my personal journey means temporarily letting go of external or internal distraction (i.e.; phone, computer, unrealistic standards, perfection) to be fully present with someone or something meaningful in one’s life. I believe this is a realistic and highly attainable solution to living a present and meaningful life in the 21st century.

      I am a full-time writer and speaker. I have chosen to share my pursuit to grasp what matters with the world through this forum so I can reach as many people as possible. Writing a blog on this topic does not make me a hypocrite. This post is about being aware that WHEN and HOW we use technology can be harmful to our relationship with our children. I write on my blog and respond to comments while my children are at school or when they are asleep. When they are home, I am practicing being Hands Free and connecting with them. I am not “seeking satisfaction” by sharing online. I feel compelled, as this is my life’s purpose, to help others connect with their loved ones. I certainly don’t deserve judgement and criticism for trying to help others living a more meaningful life.

      My latest post has been reached half a million people today, Sean. But more importantly people are making difference choices on how they are using electronic devices in the presence of their loved ones based on this one single post. This indicates to me I am serving my purpose in life, in the correct medium, which is to share my Hands Free journey with the world.

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    Thank you for this reminder! As a photographer who is on the computer a bit , editing both clients & my own pictures… I get caught up in doing so , so many times. I think its time to set some boundaries. I’m a huge fan of childhood…. and it would crush me to think my children thought I loved the computer.. my job.. more than them. Thank you for writing this. I will be sharing on my page as well!

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    Andressa says

    Feeling guilty beyond belief here.
    Just to let you know that I thank you very much for this post. So many of those behaviors are so real. In my case, not the phone, but the computer.

    I have a lot of work in my hands from now on.
    Just to let you know your post has just reached Brazil: this is the beautiful side of social medias.

    Thanks once again for the eye opening post.

    • 241


      Thank you, Andressa. Please don’t think too much about yesterday … it is gone. The beautiful thing about living “Hands Free” is that it is about TODAY and the critical choices you make today. I commend you for taking the difficult look inward and being committed to making change. It begins with one letting go action. I see a very hopeful outlook for you, my friend. I am grateful you are here … all the way from Brazil … and I would love for you to keep me posted!

      PS Here my post that describes the very first step I took to be Hands Free. You can do it, too!

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    Mel says

    I love the message this sends, and I am happy to say I am already more like the 2nd recipe. And I would like to thank my parents for showing me love.

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    Elsie Gray says

    Wonderfully written! This article can make a huge impact with many parents, if we just look inside ourselves and be honest. On the flip side, I have two teen daughters, and we have made a firm rule to not have electronics at the table or after bedtime for any of us. Relationships are so important, but weaken without attention.
    Thank you!
    ps, hope my girls read this too. 🙂

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    Kristin says

    This totally opened my eyes. I’m a wife and a mother of two, as well as a full time office manager and student. I’m always go, go, go. I also am on the phone or texting more than I realized. I have now made the decision to be “hands free” during my time with my wonderful children. I also have made the decision to do all school work, cleaning and cooking after the kids are in bed, and if I can’t get it all done…oh well. Not only has this made me see how much time I’m missing with my kids but my family as a whole. I will not miss their lives. I want my kids to grow up and say “although mom was busy, she always made enough time for us”. Thank you for making me see I was missing out on the best part of my life.

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    Krista Loecher says

    Wow! What an eye opening read. It puts things in perspective from a 3 ft view. Thank you for sharing.

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    This post is just incredible. I just shared it on my own blog. Thanks for making me — and so many others — stop and think. I don’t want to miss a thing … and I have been missing moments because of my addiction to technology. This really hit home. Beautifully written, too.

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    I love what you say here and it is so true! My boy is 15 now and we are to the point in his life where the cell phone is my way to pay attention to him. He is learning his way around the city on the public transportation and so often I am home on the computer looking at the map and giving him directions via cell phone. We love to sit over a soda at a fast food restaurant and talk about stuff or go for a long walk and he tells jokes and makes up crazy characters and stories.
    I honestly believe that we have so much fun even though he is a teen because when he was 3 and 4 I refused to leave him at daycare and stayed home with him. We played with legos and went to the park or the zoo almost every day all summer and I have many wonderful memories from that time. We talked alot then too and the lessons I taught him now I see him living by now. There were days when I didn’t feel like spending time with him and some months when I worked online and he felt very abandoned, but over all we spent alot of time together and now I am reaping the rewards with the relationship we have at this crucial time.
    I want to encourage other moms especially single moms to put into practice what Rachel says here. You will be SO VERY glad you did!

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    Janice says

    So true, so true. And parents who think they are chaperoning a school field trip but are really on their phones? So sad. Getting off now to read to my grandson!

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    Rachel…this is so true! I am at the tail end of my parenting journey in that I have two that are adults and only one 16 year old left. I am determined to give the last one what the older got with regard to my time and attention. Putting away all things and making one-on-one time has been a priority.

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    Selene says

    Because of this post I turned off my pc and phone tonight and had some one on one ‘eye to eye’ time w/ my kids. I had committed to doing it that way a while back but had faltered. They were all lit up w/ mom’s attention. I am not going to miss their childhood because of any distractions that I have control over. Even got a job interview offer while my phone was off. Wouldn’t that be an “emergency” call? Hmmm…not when we have something called VOICEMAIL. Thank you for this. Alot of kids are going to love you for it, even if they don’t know it.

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    I wrote a similar blog that you might like. Only it deals mostly with handing our technology to our kids…constantly. Here is the link. Kudos to you for openly admitting what we all know we’re doing wrong. 🙂

    Here’s the link to my post called “Please step away from the technology”. I am still fairly new to this blog business, so let me know what you think if you get a chance!

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    Sarah says

    Wow. This is a must read for every mum. As I read this I realised this is me you are talking about. I have done most of the things on the list without realising. Thank you for opening my eyes.

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    Melanie says

    I am that mother you hoped this blog and specifically this post would reach. This has totally opened my eyes to something I have known has been a problem for way too long. Thank you so much for this blog and I’m totally with you now. I really think that many well meaning loving parents are becoming trapped and addicted to technology without even knowing it. Thank you a million times over!

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    It has been a month since I quit my job that had me out of my home 60 or more and on the phone or email at home just as much. The first week I kept checking my phone every 5 minutes out of habit. By the end of that first week I had started to put my phone down and started to play with my daughter more and more. There were long walks and playing with her zoo. Putting her down for a nap or to bed stopped being so rushed and has become a time where we sing songs and play. There have been a few times where she hasn’t wanted to go to sleep so instead of being frustrated because I have work to do, I can go in and hold her and rock her. Her vocabulary has tripled, we go to mommy and me classes, and go for play dates. It seems that I have been leaving my phone at home on accident more and more. And building a better relationship with my daughter. I have been so thankful that I have been able to put the phone down and watch my daughter grow up…..way too fast if you ask me.

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    Megan says

    Thanks so much for writing this!! I was so happy to be able to share this on FB!! As a former teacher and now stay at home mom it breaks my heart to see children run out of school only to have parents chatting on the phone. Allow your eyes to light up, embrace them and really talk to them about their day! Who will really matter in 30 years… the person on the other end of the phone call, or your children? Both of my children are very involved in sports. I almost can’t stand to sit with the other parents on the sideline as so many of them are not at all engaged in their children. The amount of ipads and phones on the sidelines far surpasses the number of cameras and focused parents. My hearts just breaks at the “glances” these parents miss as their children steel a quick look to see if anyone is watching. THANK YOU AGAIN!! I will definitely continue to read this blog!!

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    I am so thankful someone posted this to Facebook! I don’t have any children yet, but someone I really admire who doesn’t share things on FB posted this so I wanted to check it out and it applies SO much to my life as a newlywed. I am very guilty of ignoring him in favor of the phone or laptop, or even the tv, right after he gets home from work. So thankful I read this before we started having children! Thank you!

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    What a wonderful wonderful WONDERFUL blog!!! I would really really love to ad this article to my website as a guest post. Everyone needs to read this! Broke my heart and blessed me all at the same time. Thank you so much for sharing this wisdom! Please let me know if you are at all interested in providing this as a guest post for my site. Also give me the exact link you want me to link back to your blog with…. Thank you again!

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    This is so, so true. I am struggling with this and just yesterday asked my daughter if I am on the computer too much and she DID NOT HESITATE: YES. It startled me how she didn’t have to think for a moment. I read recently also that the same chemical processes that occur in the brain of an addict, occur when we look at our phones so much…thank you for writing this. I remember when you were starting your blog! Now I saw it posted by an old college friend on FB. Great work.

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    Chris Perkins says

    Wow. I love my boy with all my heart. He is my world! I tell him every night as I lay down with him to put him to sleep. His favorite time of day is his nightly shower with daddy and then bed time. What kis asks for bed time? Well, a kid whose only real connection with his father is during that time. I work all day and come home and play games on my little time waster! I guess telling them you love them as your eyes are glued to a phone is not enough at all. He turned 3 in April. How much have I already missed? Thank you so much for this article!

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    I really really needed to read this. My phone isn’t really my biggest problem, it’s the computer. Every time I go an entire day without checking my e-mail, FB, etc, I notice what a wonderful day it has been. Why? Mostly because as a result, I laughed, communicated and played with my beloved children and it feeds my soul! I think we substitute electronic relationships with real human connection- so sad really. Anyway, thanks for the fabulous blog post. I will definitely share it, cause like you say, if it changes just ONE person’s behavior…

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    Beki says

    I tried to email you but it wouldn’t go through so I thought I would just post my email in the comments.
    I know that you probably have tons of emails to read and plenty of things to do, but I wanted to write you and let you know how beautiful your words are! Four months ago I gave birth to my amazing daughter who is already growing way too fast. Everyone keeps wishing her away. I can’t wait until she does this or I can’t wait untill she does that. I strive really hard to just be present and not miss anything. I think things like… even though my sink is full of dirty dishes I’m going to sit here and hold her until she wakes up. I mean how much longer is she going to sleep in my arms? These things have been weighing on my heart for the past few weeks. In the beginning I wanted to lay her down when she slept so I could do this or do that. I still do that sometimes, but I am trying to be in the moment as much as possible. Today I had the very small window of time to get on facebook and saw that someone had shared one of your posts. After reading How to Miss a Childhood I bookmarked your page. Tonight after Elee went to sleep for the night I opened your page and began reading. I have spent the past hour and a half alternating between reading and crying! The journey that you are on is so inspiring, so touching. It gave me so much to think about. Being present is so important, not thinking about all the things I have to do, but just holding her right now. My favorite so far has to be the post about the six words. So many times I have held back things that I wanted to say to my husband because I didn’t want him to think I was too mushy. After reading it I thought, maybe he needs to hear those things. I just wanted to let you know that among all the other things that you accomplished today, you touched my heart. Thank you very much for the message you are living!


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    You should be so very proud of this post. So well worded and true and needed to be said. Thank you so much for sharing. And thank you for giving real, applicable ways to love our children. It’s true, I need to be reminded of ways to do so.

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    Robin says

    Thank you for a fantastic post. I feel convicted by it, and that is a good thing. So often I justify tuning out my kids for a few moments by popping on Facebook or whatever as a moment of adult sanity. But, the fact is, everything can wait until they are napping or down for the night.

    Thank you for re-opening my eyes to what parenting really means.

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    Anita Byrd says

    The timing of your post intersected my life and experiences over this past weekend in such a huge way that I felt I needed to share also. I have often felt like the internet (and eventually, Facebook) was my lifeline to the outside world since becoming a SAHM when my first was born. After a few years without a support group or, really, many like-minded moms to learn from and grow with, I stumbled upon our local MOPS group (Mothers Of PreSchoolers). While we as a group have grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years – and that’s a wonderful, blessed thing – I often feel as if I’m torn between doing the things that *I* want to do with my fellow moms and what my children need or want to do. MOPS has provided me with lasting, enriching friendships and experiences that have shaped me and molded me into a better mom, wife, and human being. However, it’s these friendships and experiences that sometimes stretch me too thin (I’m “one of those” who doesn’t know how to say no) and upset that delicate balance between having self-care and being selfish. I don’t think I was really aware of how much I relied upon my phone until it got damaged the other day and I had to go without for THREE WHOLE DAYS. Shocking, isn’t it?! I have to admit – I fell into a mini-depression. It’s silly to say, but I truly felt as if I were missing my best friend. I finally came to grips with the fact that I was battling somewhat of an addiction. At first, I was very sad; sad that I wasn’t responsible enough to take better care of my little buddy. Sad that I had come to rely on my phone for EVERYTHING – calendar, internet, contact info, and, perhaps most importantly, a camera; and *poof* just like that, it was gone. And, finally, sad that my dead phone was a physical representation of time gone in the form of lost photos and memories. This whole social media-infused existence is tricky – it is such a handy tool for communication, yet it overwhelms us with so much information and opportunity that it scrambles and confuses our priorities. Having a cell phone on 24/7 (IMO) opens up this weird portal of accessibility. I’d like to think I’m so important to my friends and family that I NEED to have my lifeline near me at all times. However, in actuality, the little humans we really ARE most important to get placated or flat-out ignored for a fleeting sense of worth and/or momentary satisfaction on our parts. Anyway, I came out of this dumb little experience with a busted phone with a not-so-dumb new perspective, and an outlook that is in sync with what you so bravely posted about. In the end, my husband was able to salvage what was most important from my phone and I am now using a backup phone. But you can bet I’ll be more judicious about how and when I use it from now on. I’m just supremely thankful to God that I didn’t let a distraction by my phone result in something horrible happening to me or my family.

    Thank you for boldly posting about your experiences. I hope it gets others thinking and inspires changes in how we use (or abuse) our gadgets. Take care!

    Anita Byrd

    PS – sorry for the lengthy comment! I was too excited not to share 🙂

    • 267


      Dear Anita, I thank you for sharing so openly and honestly about your experience. I have trouble sleeping most nights and I enjoy reading every single comment during this quiet time by myself. Your comment was the first one I read and really touched me. You hit on so many valid points. This sentence particularly resonated with me: “This whole social media-infused existence is tricky – it is such a handy tool for communication, yet it overwhelms us with so much information and opportunity that it scrambles and confuses our priorities.”

      I have heard from so many well-intentioned parents who love and adore their children, but got lost in their own distraction. The fact that half a million people have read this post today and thousands have voiced their commitment to making changes says something significant. It gives me great hope, actually. I commend you for the revelation you had through the time without your phone. It is not easy to “go there,” but in those difficult truths, we find our way back to what really matters. I thank you for sharing.

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    April Quinn says

    This was life-changing for me. I feel so awful that my time on my phone has spiraled so out of control! And you’re right, I can totally try to justify it, but there’s no excuse. It’s time to make a change. Thanks so much for this post. I have shared it with all of my friends!

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    Jason Damron says

    Ouch!! Boy am I ever guilty of all that! I don’t Facebook, or Tweet, etc. But I use my phone especially frequently with online games & email & more games, etc etc. My poor kids!! My oldest is only 2.5 yrs old & my lil girl just turned a year old, but I have still already missed sooo much! I can’t help it…I truly am addicted! Prayer would be especially appreciated!

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    Breanna says

    At 2AM I sit in my dark living room in utter tears. I’m up so late because I can’t complete the online testing for my nursing program with my children awake. The last 4 years I’ve drudged through so much just to push myself through school with 2 littles ones (my youngest being almost 4 so obviously I was pregnant when I began). Before I began school I rarely got on a computer, hardly used my phone (and only began texting in the last year and a half), and didn’t own an kindle, ipad, or ipod. In the last few years I’ve accumulated the need for these things to help me through school and slowly they became reprieves for me from the stress of school and, honestly, everything. As I read your post (and here come the water works, again) I realized I can’t remember the last time I looked in my 7 year old son’s eyes. I don’t always have these electronics glued to my head but even when I don’t I’m normally in my own world thinking about the book I’m reading, the things I need to get done, the things I want to look up and search for on the internet, or calculating other (unimportant) things in my head. In the last few months I’ve began reshaping myself. I’ve started eating and drinking healthier. Stocking the house with healthy foods and encouraging play and exercise. Now, I’m only 25 and not over weight but I did this because I believe it to be the right thing for everyone in my family….it’s about a life of health for me and my family…not about losing weight. After reading this I realized there is one more step I need to take to help my family be the healthiest it can be…so, I guess what I’m trying to say in all of this is thank you SO much for opening my eyes.

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    Great post. Timely for me as I head towards 40 and two little kids. Challenging myself to connect less with a device on more with them.

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    Jonathon says

    With all due respect, I think this emotional manipulation. You’re using people’s guilt to build your own ego.
    There’s plenty of parents that wouldn’t even be able to go to the park, the zoo, the movies or the school play without the advent of technology.
    Technology is here to stay and although people may need to be reminded about not letting it invade their life an relationships people need to use it with intent and not be controlled by it.
    We need to teach people the skills of being able to live with technology.
    No less than 5 years ago my job would have been behind a desk from 8.30am to 5pm but now I can take my kids to School, Karate lessons, rides to the park and their dentist appointment. I’ve sat down with my kids and explained that although sometimes they would rather me off the phone or laptop, that I would too, but I promised them I would only do these things when my job required it. Because its the technology that allows me to work while being with the kids. And they understand that the life they have is because of the work I do.

    It’s not so clear cut – you’re on your phone so you don’t care. Judging someone for being on the phone at the zoo or the movies isn’t fair. How do you know what’s going on in their life?

    I think this article promotes an unhealthy stereotype that’s built from praying on people’s emotions. As I said, people need to learn how to use technology with deliberate intent not to be made to feel like they are bad people. Technology is here to stay. Wouldnt it be better to teach your children how to do this properly by setting a good example instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water?

    I’ve seen just as many women worried about cooking dinner and the washing than spending time with their kids. Or husbands absorbed by the footy or keeping the yard tidy. We shouldn’t stop doing these things we should find a health perspective and develop skills he skills needed to have a healthy life.

    I’m sorry, but I think the fear mongering and emotional overstatements are irresponsible.

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    Gub says

    And this is a great reason why children should not have cell phones, Facebook, emails exc …..they miss their own child hoods. Acting like adults shouldn’t act.

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    Fabulous post! Found your post via a friends FB and had to share it. It’s been several months since I have owned a “smart phone” with all the extras (facebook, music, games, email, ect) and I love it! My girls and I have fun coloring and playing pictionary in the restaurants. We read while waiting in the doctors office. I am so uninvolved with my phone that I misplace it for days at a time and my world does not come crashing down around I do notice all the kids that are ignored b/c their parents because they are playing on their phones and it’s just sad. Thanks again for this post, you rock!

  134. 276

    Tish Orr says

    Yes, life is short. Enjoy the time you have there are no guarantees that you will have 18 years to look back on with your child so embrace the moment, absorb every little twinkle in their eye, every sound on their lips and smile on their face it will pass all to quickly. There is nothing you will miss more.

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    Your writing is very moving and strikes a painful note but nonetheless is very much appreciated. How sad our society has become and I do believe there is a new wave of orphans being created daily by technology. Orphans in the sense that they have “no parents to parent” when the child is left alone to watch a TV show while the mom or dad is “connected” to a device.

    When I read this, it brought back a wave of sadness and regret as I recalled the last 13 years. I have 2 girls, 11 and 13, who unfortunately watched my life become more and more consummed by my job until last summer. I was laid off on June 2, 2011 and spent that summer “with my girls” for the first time. It was amazing and such a gift from God. We spent time at the pool, watching movies, catching up and going on a few trips. I had NO IDEA!! I had missed so much even though I did take time “off” to be there for big events, there were many things I missed. Even the simple things that we often overlook such as a game of soccer in the front yard with the neighborhood kids or pool time at a friend’s house. The list goes on. The last 2 years of that particular job sucked the life out of me and not only did I pay the price, but my family REALLY paid the price. I was moody, short tempered, sick, stressed and on the brink of a breakdown. I am so blessed to have been “let go” and I thank God daily. I am getting better and not being attached to my phone but it’s a hard habit to break. The recipe you gave was one that we all can benefit from and I thank you! Here’s to hands free life!

    Blessings to you and your family!

    • 279


      Thank you, Beck. You have beautifully captured the intent of my post–not to abandon technology altogether, but be mindful of how its use can be taking away from our most sacred relationships. You have brought me great joy today.

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    Mary says

    THANK YOU!!! I needed to hear this (and have heard it, but NOW was the right time for me to hear it)!! I am hoping this changes my life! I have four kids with a 13 year old as the oldest. And I find myself asking how she got to be so grown up already…. I feel that I missed a lot, but every day we are blessed with is a new day and I HOPE that I take this message to heart and LIVE IT!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! God put you right where and when I needed you…..

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    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I needed to read this… I started to notice that my 2 year-old will bring me my cell phone whenever she finds it. Somehow she knows that where I go, my iPhone goes, too. I check my messages at stoplights, at the mall, at the park and at the zoo… I know I’m missing out on my girls while I do this.
    It’s time for me to change… I never want my kids to wonder what I value more – my technology or them.

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    nobody says

    I am a present generation parent. I do all that stuff.. not without knowing – I’m aware I’m doing bad – but I did realize it myself when I started socializing. And in the recent months, I’ve made so many changes ( except my temper ) that I am feeling good. I am not yet the loving mom I wanna be but I know I will be there by end of summer. 🙂 .

    well the reason I am writing is – that in my days I was distracted by devices, but it happened to me in my childhood when there were no devices. I just had the most awesome parents who were overtly engrossed in keeping my granny happy – my dad had no time, mom had no tongue. 🙁 . I’ve not forgotten, people beware your kids won’t either…

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    Jessica says

    My 2 yo told me the other day, while we were sitting on the couch watching tv (well, he was watching tv… I was playing a game on my phone)… “Mommy, put down your phone. I need to hold you.” It broke my heart. I’m so guilty of everything you wrote. It’s an eye opener.

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    Greg says

    Bookmarking for my dense male mind! Our first baby is on the way, and I am struggling with my own level of selfishness and how I can do away with it by the time December rolls along. I want so badly to be a good father, but am become aware of just how inadequate I am and how much I need God’s help. Thanks for your excellent words!

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    Derek says

    I am a Father of 3 girls ages 1 to 6. I spend all my free time with my girls and I work full time and I do most of the cleaning/laundry/etc.

    What I have to say some Mothers might not like. GET OFF Facebook, Pinterest, Blogs and message boards. STOP worrying about the house being perfect and GET on the floor and spend time with your kids. Your kids don’t care how the house looks, or if they have every toy or making elaborate crafts.

    Enjoy your kids because time goes by so fast and all you are left with is your perfect house wishing for one more day to play with your kids that have grown up. There is no AP for that!

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    Holly says

    I wanted to thank you for this important reminder about where our focus as moms should be. I was certainly convicted about being on the phone when I pick up the kids from school. It isn’t all the time, but I know they do not like it when I do. Sometimes it is necessary as a ministry wife in terms of helping people who are in a crisis. But I really enjoyed the post and think is a great reminder to all of us about how we should balance our time. A do agree with some of the commenters about not making a mom feel guilty for not spending every waking moment centered around her children. It is so important (yes, even for moms) to cultivate a relationship with Christ so she doesn’t neglect THAT relationship. I read as many of the comments as I had time for. But where do the husbands fall in line here? (If you are married.) I think it’s not only important to give your kids your undivided attention, but your husbands as well…sometimes the husbands get the left overs or nothing at all, and that doesn’t make for secure children either. Let’s make sure that we neglect our husbands for the sake of our phones, or even our children. Thank you for this honest and pointed article….it has caused me to think deeply about how I will be spending my time.

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    Holly says

    oops…that should read “Let’s make sure that we DO NOT neglect our husbands for the sake of our phones or our children.” LOL!

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    April says

    What a great post! I am lucky to be a mom who doesn’t need the phone for work, and I make a conscious effort to only text minimally. The biggest distraction from my playing with and focusing on my own children when we are at playgrounds is the lonely children who stick to me like glue and try to get between me and my girls while their distracted caretaker texts on the other side of the park. Please put down your phones! Your children are breaking my heart!

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    Wow! What an amazing article! Thank you so much for sharing. Also I would definitely apply this not only to my child but my spouse and close family, friends.

    Thank you again and God bless!


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    Such a great article. Although I do try to spend “quality” time with both of my girls, I sometimes find myself tethered to my phone or iPad as well… and then have to make a conscious decision to turn it off. Sadly, I don’t think this is purely a 21st century technology issue. Some of those comments hit very close to home for me, because I remember my mom doing the same to me – only her nose was stuck in a book or she was “busy” sewing. So many times my sisters and I wanted to show her something or talk to her and she would wave us away and say “later.” 30 years later, I still sometimes have trouble having a meaningful conversation with my mother. When I catch myself responding to my daughters the way she sometimes responded to me, it scares me. So thank you for putting this out there, just another little reminder to us to cherish these moments, especially when they are little. Now I need to go give my girls a hug.

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    E says

    We moved about 2 months ago, I put off getting cable and internet service at home. It was hard for the first few weeks but now it’s pretty nice to have the family time we didn’t make time for before. We did get TV, just the basic channels and still don’t have internet. I miss it sometimes and so does the rest of the family, but I’m glad that I’m not tied to it at home. I use the computer enough at work…

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    Sara says

    This is a good sentiment but sort of preachy. :X I agree that it is important to be present to our kids, but I think instances where we observe parents doing these annoying things isn’t the whole of their relationship with their child. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it would be just as obnoxious to be TOO into what our kids are doing. It does them more of a service to find balance.

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    Emily says

    Today is my son’s first birthday and my gift to him is to go hands free in his presence. It will be tough! But I will do it as much as possible.

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    Rachel, beautiful post, as always. I find myself in both sides of the equation, which tells me I’m learning balance. I started by leaving my phone in the bedroom when I get home from work and change my clothes, then with leaving it there until we help them get ready for bed. I don’t always do that, but I’m noticing more and more how very little I miss my phone and Facebook. I’m still working on being present and adaptable with my kids, but I’m confident I’ll get there.

    There are so many stressors, and so many distractions to choose from, but I’m working on it. On some days I feel like hope has moved to the very end of my fingertips, but I hold on. It’s still there, and reading blogs like yours help bring it closer to my heart. Thanks.

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      Thank you so much, Chris. You know what words come to my head when I read your post: “I’m trying … I’m trying.” And on this journey, there is no perfect, but there is “trying” — trying to let go of our distractions a little more each day … sometimes we falter, sometimes we fall down flat on our face … but then there are the times we connect deeply, meaningfully, and we not only get it “right” but it feels right. And we want to do it again and again, so we keep trying. And that, my friend, counts for something … something that really matters. So glad to have you along on this journey.

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        Thanks for your reassuring words, Rachel. And ditto that last sentiment. I love coming here and making those heart-mind connections. Thanks for this blog.

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    Ganise says

    Wow! What an eye-opening blog. I only heard of your blog yesterday through a Facebook share on a friend’s page. I clicked on it and read it. I have been working on fixing this problem in my own life and I am making progress. I have to tell myself “Stop. be here in the moment with your kids. The call/text can wait til naptime or after they go to bed.” It is a struggle but I can definitely say I am better than I was.
    I just attended my son’s field day today and did not take my phone in with me just so I could really be there. But I did notice how many other parents were on their phones while sitting right in front of their children. One father even had his back turned to his daughter while he was on facebook when they were eating lunch. And I thought “Wow, this is me sometimes. I HAVE to do better.” Thanks so much for your encouragement to be the best parents we can be to our children. This was inspiring. Looking forward to reading more posts from you.

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    this is so beautiful and true. thank you for sharing these precious words that so many mamas (and daddys) need to hear! i feel like SAHM’s of our generation say that their phone/laptop/blog/facebook etc are a way to connect to the outside world, and we use it as an excuse to stay connected to people our own age. these fleeting moments with our little ones are so priceless and go by so quickly.
    i love this alot!!!

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    Barbara says

    WOW!!! What a powerful lesson to hear and learn on this upcoming Mother’s Day. It is one that every single human should learn, parents or not, in order to help fix this ever worsening world. So many areas of lives are on a downward spiral because of communication problems. Read and follow these simple, yet powerful suggestions when dealing with all people and i bet you will see a dramatic improvement in your relationships. Thank you to the author for opening our eyes so we all can open our hearts.

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    Catherine says

    Thank you for sharing this post and for all the responses and your replies. It has been really encouraging to read them all. Whilst this is particularly valid for those with children, I believe there are some hard questions to ask ourselves about all our relationships. My partner has a smart phone and it goes with him everywhere. When we’re having dinner, it beeps with a Facebook message, an email, a text, a news alert, etc., and his first reaction is to pick it up and read it. Even when we’re talking, when we’re watching a film, the only time he doesn’t have it with him is in bed (and it’s next to the bed then). I put my foot down the other day and asked for a mobile-phone free zone during dinner at least. It is so much better to just sit and eat and talk, without him being distracted every five minutes or so. Even he has admitted it (although getting the agreement was like extracting teeth!) I’ve really started to think critically about how often we sit in the same room but both on a laptop – even if sometimes it can’t be helped (I’m a teacher and so the whole day is in the classroom, and research for the next day and dealing with admin comes once I get home). I hope lots of folk read this post and start to reflect on their relationships with their phones and others. Thank you for being this honest, Rachel!

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    What a wonderful reminder. I have to admit that these days it is so easy to get distracted by the phone call, the emails, the blogging, and work. Technology has found a way to steadily take over our lives (if we’re not careful). Thank you for reminding us what really matters in life.

    Happy Mother’s Day. May it be a day filled with wonderful moments, memories created and tons of love and cuddles from your loved ones!

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    Thank you SO much – feel like I can’t say Thank You enough 🙂 Your article was the final piece in the puzzle that has ended our ‘old’ life, and made the sun come out in our family again 🙂 And yes, it was a bit of a slap in the face…but we needed it. I have just finished the article I’d been writing in my head all week, but I couldn’t finish it till your blogpost came along and made it all come together. I hope it’s ok that I link to it here – I just really want to show you that you are making a difference already. (feel free to remove the link if it’s not ok)
    Onwards and upwards for another day of hands-free at our place 🙂

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    What a beautiful, amazing and inspiring post. I am currently in the process of trying to trim down my to-do list and my distractions so I can be a mother who is involved and doesn’t miss their childhood. It’s hard when the world keeps telling us we need those things. But my children need me more.

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    Liz S. says

    Thank you for this blog. As I read it, I could hear my kids playing in the background. I felt like crying. As of right now, my computer and phone will be turned off when we are together. The emails and text messages and the mindless games on the cell phone can wait until the kids are tucked in bed and sound asleep.

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    Oh, how sad it is that I recognize myself in some of these distractions. Thanks for the reminder. It doesn’t really count as living in the moment if the moment consists only of time spent with your iPhone.

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    Thank you so much for writing this. I often find myself longing for the 1900s and prior, since they didn’t have all of this to distract them from LIFE. I really have a love/hate relationship with technology, but at the same time I find myself not “hands free.” Thank you, thank you for sharing the TRUTH! I hope it’s ok for me to link back to this on my blog! Thanks!!

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    Ann says

    Thank you so much for this. My husband I lived out of the states for 5 years and have been back almost a year. In this time we have not gotten cell phones, nor television in our home. We do have internet and we do spend time on our computers, sometimes I have to make myself “disconnect” 🙂 . I can’t begin to tell you the comments I’ve received from friends and family alike, apparently it is “Un-American” to not have a cell phone. We are just 14 weeks shy of having our first baby and I’ve struggled with the pressure around me “you HAVE to have a cell phone when you are a mom”, “what will you do if something happens?” These questions make me laugh, because truly, life goes on. Life happens, that’s what happens. I can completely see the appeal of a cell phone and I see how easily it would be to be sucked in, I don’t look down on those who have one and are always connected, that is their choice, (I may even benefit from it when I want to contact them). My choice is to live life, to have direct communication with those around me and to live in the moment. We do have a land line phone with an answering machine, so if I’m not available, leave me a message and I’ll call you back when I can devote my time to you! I hope I can maintain this and teach our child the importance of good communication and living in the moment! Again, thanks for this post. I look forward to reading the rest of your blog. 🙂

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    Ana says

    Really really good reminder! Even me, who prides herself on spending tons of quality time with my children flinched a little a NUMBER of times while reading through this. It’s those things that I don’t even REALIZE I am doing!! Thank you so much!

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    gabby says

    I agree cellphones and technologies can detract to the amount of attention one pays to their child. I bare witness what parents misout on because it was more important to answer their cellphone that minute that pay attention to the child. But that not only happens with technology, parents do so even at social gatherings when their child walks up to them with a hurt knee or bloody nose and the parents response is “What do you want now?” without even taking a look at the child. As they say people come first your children should be your #1 priority in your life not a hinderance or an obligation! This is just what I feel like after teaching for 17 or 18 yrs young children.

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    “I’m trying, I’m trying!”
    My wife and I have had several big fights about this very topic. I freely admit that I am addicted to my phone. Sometimes when I’m bored, I will check it every 2-3 minutes.
    I have started doing some of these little things, even before tonight to try to be better about my phone, but often I find myself slipping back into old habits and justifying why I’m disconnected from life.
    I find it very interesting that most of the male responses to this post have been ultra-defensive and somewhat rude. To me, that is guilt rearing its ugly head!
    Thank you for your post!

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    Thank you for a well written and timely reminder for all parents and grandparents!!! Children grow up so very quickly! When you are a parent the days are long but the years are short. As a grandmother, I cherish the time with the grandkids so much more because I realize just how fleeting the time is!!!

  166. 325


    What an absolutely fabulous, honest and heartfelt post. This is sooooo important to us as parents. We are getting so out of touch with reality as we allow our phones and computers to control our lives. I’ve recently given up my iPhone. It was really hard at first as I relied on it for soooo much! But I’m loving the freedom it’s given me and that it’s eliminated the temptation to ‘log in’ every five minutes to some app or game or email!
    Your tips are fabulous and your commitment to handsfree for the good of your family is admirable. I love my new life minus the iPhone and also stick with my self-rule of not using the computer in front of my daughter. I don’t want to waste ANY of her day with my own selfish desires. Thanks again for an amazing post and an excellent reminder/message. I will be sharing this on my facebook page.

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    Heather says

    Rachel, I would like to applaud you for your kind, selfless and complimentary responses to the blog posts. Reading them is uplifting and almost as good as the article itself.

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    Not only will you miss a childhood but you miss your life too. Miss your life with your spouse, your friends, your parents (who will all too soon be gone from this earth), and other family members. It drives me absolutely bonkers when I am having a conversation with a friend and their phone rings or tings and they take the call or text right then. Really? Is it an emergency? It leaves me feeling really resentful because I don’t do this to my friends or family. Human beings sitting in front of me come first. Even if there is an emergency, waiting a couple minutes won’t change much and so far, there’s NEVER been an emergency call with anyone I’ve ever been with. Thanks for posting this. It was really well said and done in a way that zings.

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    I loved your post! So true!!!! My oldest son is 16 and when he was young I had no cell phone and the radio in our car was broken. In order to keep him ( and myself) entertained, I would sing to him and we would “talk” about all the things we would see. As a result he spoke at an earlier age and we still have a wonderfully communicative relationship! Although, I must admit I was FAR from perfect! I would prioritize friends or TV shows… That also shows up as a result….
    However, my 2nd child came along and we finally repaired the radio and all the preciouse time was lost. The radio blared I got a cell phone and I am still trying to build bridges that I ignorantly destroyed:(. I have 8 kids total and my baby is now 15 months. Although I figured out some of the distractions… There’s always more to learn! Between the ages of 16 and 15 months I have a child who has experienced some sort of neglect from me as a result of something else taking a priority…… The upside, kids are forgiving and resilient!!! As long as we fess up, recognize the distraction and reprioritize! They are willing to give you another shot! After all they chose us to be there mom!! I’ve found letting my lil’ people be the stars in my life makes ME a lot happier!! Thanks so much for the post! I’m on the lookout for other distractions, even though I know you were talking about techy stuff, distractions a distraction….and i want to keep my priorities straight!
    Much gratitude,

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    I loved your post! So true!!!! My oldest son is 16 and when he was young I had no cell phone and the radio in our car was broken. In order to keep him ( and myself) entertained, I would sing to him and we would “talk” about all the things we would see. As a result he spoke at an earlier age and we still have a wonderfully communicative relationship! Although, I must admit I was FAR from perfect! I would prioritize friends or TV shows… That also shows up as a result….
    However, my 2nd child came along and we finally repaired the radio and all the preciouse time was lost. The radio blared I got a cell phone and I am still trying to build bridges that I ignorantly destroyed:(. I have 8 kids total and my baby is now 15 months. Although I figured out some of the distractions… There’s always more to learn! Between the ages of 16 yrs and 15 months. I have a child who has experienced some sort of neglect from me as a result of something else taking a priority….and leg me tell you juggling all these different age ranges its easy to become distracted in the older kids lives and not keep pace with the little ones!! Whew!
    The upside, as I am sure most parents know… But in case they don’t, I’d like to just throw out there, kids are forgiving and resilient!!! As long as we fess up, recognize the distraction and reprioritize, WHILE THEY ARE YOUNG! They are willing to give you another shot! After all with all the options available in the world, they chose you!! I’ve found letting my lil’ people be the stars in my life makes ME a lot happier!! Anyway, thanks so much for the post! I’m always on the lookout for distractions that would lure me away from true happiness! This is a great reminder that I want to keep my priorities straight!
    Much gratitude,

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    My sentiments exactly! My recently separated ex-husband should read this. He would get angry at the children if they were trying to talk to him while he was playing Angry Birds. Every memory I have of him is being more interested in his mobile phone than his family. Probably explains while we’re separated.

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    Thank you so much for both “recipes”. It hurts my heart to see so many parents on their phones at parks, restaurants, and other outings with their children. As you say, the “gift of total presence” is one of the best things you can offer your child. I’m linking to this from my blog.

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    Juliet Luiz says

    Very true… Excellent message!

    Sometimes I think that feminism has a downside to it: Of course women can do it ALL, but can we do it all WELL? And do we choose what’s most important to us and do that one thing the BEST?

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    Elizabeth says

    Wow, Wow, so well said. I have always been worried about this kind of thing. When my kids were young there were no cell phones etc, but even then we could ignore them somehow, but yes, there needs to be more quality time and great memories made with our children, Very good blog, thankyou.

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    Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I to find It truly useful & it helped me out a lot. I’m hoping to offer one thing back and aid others like you helped me

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    Kari says

    Excellent post!! I see this happening in my own family and it breaks my heart. Our little grandson is a darling, but his parents are missing his life. His mom is always on her laptop, working on puzzles or watching TV, and his daddy is often fighting with mom about this issue and not paying attention either. They are both missing out on so much! Grandparents can help though if they are close by. My husband and I are so glad we live nearby. We spend as much time as possible with our grandson and are always 100% present to him. He knows we love him and he enjoys sharing his little tragedies and triumphs of growing up with us. He is a darling boy and I pray we are giving him enough attention and guidance (translated: love) to help fill the gaps. His happiness mean everything to us!

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    Leah says

    Thank you so much for this post! I have been thinking about finely breaking down and getting a smart phone for Mothers day. I’m a SAHM to a 3.5 DD so I really don’t need a smart phone for work or much else but I was feeling behind in the times and felt I needed one to keep up. But this post made up my mind for me! I already grasp her childhood every second of the day and I don’t want any distraction to take away from that. So I’ll happily stick with my dumb phone and enjoy life without a tether to the phone. Thanks for the eye opening Mother Day gift!

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    Hi Rachel!

    I happened upon this post through some random web surfing today. And while I agree with you on post concerning relationships with our kiddos, it concerns me deeply that this kind of post has generated so many to “change their ways” almost immediately. With as many responses as you have gotten on this post alone, the word “guilt” has been used more than I can keep count of…and not in a good light concerning how others think of themselves. And while you have clearly addressed this isn’t your intent (and I believe you), my concern still remains that your words were taken by many with copious amounts of guilt.

    So from this, I am seeing more knee-jerk reactions to this guilt many feel, rather than prompting a lifestyle change due to conviction. While many may be changing their habits now, how long will these habits last? For when any of us respond out of guilt, change doesn’t last long…but with convcition, the change usually sticks. So considering this, here are a few questions I have for you:

    1) How do you think it is best handled, for those who do feel guilty over this post, to encourage others to make a lifelong habit out of this..rather than a momentary change of viewpoint for a few moments in their lives?

    2) How can we, as people in general (who are prone constantly to dropping the ball relationally with anyone…not just our kids) make this something that “sticks”…rather than just falls off after life starts sinking in once again?

    3) What do you believe are some simple steps can people take, maybe even daily, that truly helps people feel they can make such a change without feeling guilty if they drop the ball?

    I am am merely bringing these questions up for the sake of discussion so as to come to a solution many, if not most, can truly adhere to concerning this very relevant topic. I look forward to your response and insight. 🙂


    • 344


      Thank you, Marni. Your questions are excellent and thoughtful. Thank you also for your respect in the manner in which you shared your concerns and asked for further information.

      First, I would like to start by saying that many of posts I write contain the message of letting go of guilt. In fact, I address how to let go of both external and internal distraction (which includes guilt) on this site. Both the post before and after this one contain messages of self-acceptance and understanding, moving forward, and letting go of past mistakes. I often tell people that a “Hands Free” life is one of hope. One particular phrase I write so often in this space is that the beauty of living Hands Free is not about what happened yesterday, it is about today and the critical choices we make today. I would love for anyone in need of such a message to read “Hope For The Imperfect Parent”, “A Description for Healing” or “Consider Yourself Gifted”

      Please keep in mind that I am able to write my posts because of personal experience with distraction. In the post you read, I linked to “Missing More Than Life” which explains how I lost two years with my children due to my distraction (which I mention comes in other forms besides electronic distraction). Yes, guilt was a feeling I experienced when I finally admitted that I had spent more time on my distraction than I had with my own children. I also experienced regret for the moments I missed. Yet it was going to that difficult, painful place of honesty and evaluation to propel me to start making small changes to connect to what mattered in my life. It was because of that uncomfortable feeling of regret that I was committed to change–not short term change, but long-term. The awareness I felt caused me to make “Hands Free” practices a part of my daily life for the past two years. I am blessed to have other people who joined this movement from the beginning who have kept me posted along their own journey to say how they, too, transformed their distracted life into one of connection. Granted, the distraction in our world is always present, but by making Hands Free practices a part of our daily lives, choosing what matters has becomes our long-term priority.

      But here’s the most beautiful part about Hands Free practices. (You asked how to make this something that “sticks.”) The motivation to stick with “Hands Free” practices occurs naturally and meaningfully every single time a person lets go of distraction to connect with someone he or she loves. When your focus is on that precious gift of your child, your spouse, or significant other for that designated time period, you experience three things:

      1) the other “stuff” suddenly isn’t so important (your perspective becomes clear on what really does matter in life)

      2) a peaceful, calming feeling will overcome you that is so fulfilling that you will want to experience it again and again. (it is a feeling I never could achieve when I was living my distracted, hurried, and overwhelmed life)

      3) you will begin to become more aware of opportunities to connect to what matters and that “Hands Free” inner voice in your heart will urge you to seize it. You will realize that other “stuff” will still be there when you get finished holding your child, having a real conversation with your spouse, looking into your child’s eyes and asking about his/her day. You will realize your work is important, but that you do not have to be fully accessible 24 hours a day. You realize you have the right to live and enjoy your one precious life.

      Here are a few more small, but impacting changes a person could make. I suggest starting with one or two:

      -I find it helps tremendously to shut down the computer totally and turn off all notifications on my phone so there is no temptation to “check.” Even if you have a job that requires computer use at home, it is important to build boundaries into your home life. You can always address those issues once that designated time period with your family has ended. But having that uninterrupted “Hands Free” time with your kids will make a tremendous impact on them and also on you. I would suggest keeping a notebook handy when you are going unplugged. Then if you think of something you need to add to your online calendar or an email you need to send, you can write it down, rather than always going to your computer. Once your designated “Hands Free” time concludes, you can knock out the things on your list. In addition, I would try to discipline yourself to do ONLY the things on that list. We can get lost for hours on the Internet. Log on and do the things you need to do, then get off.

      -At least one day of the weekend, give yourself a break and relish in unplugged downtime with your family. If your pull to work and ties to technology is too strong to resist at home, go places where there is no electronic distraction and leave the devices at home — the library, a hike, a picnic, museums, farmer’s markets, etc. Not only will you will end up making memories and meaningful connection to what matters, you will find you are rejuvenated and more productive with your work duties (this is what I find).

      -During the work week, just get outside. There is just something about being outside that causes me to abandon my technology and just enjoy nature. Even if it is only for 15 minutes, go outside and watch your children investigate their surroundings. My children are the best “Hands Free” role models I know. Being outside creates mindfulness that we are part of something much larger than ourselves and our day-to-day problems. Being outside is like a slap in the face to cherish the moments that matter.

      -Refrain from using your phone when driving your children. Use this time to talk to them or put in their favorite CD and sing together. I would pay any amount of money if I could hear my daughter’s little toddler voice sing from the back of the car again. Her voice is still beautiful now, but there is just something about that baby voice. Listen as you drive and soak it up. In doing so, you will be reminded that time is precious — our children grow quickly.

      -When you are with your children/family in “waiting” situations like the doctor’s office, restaurants, events or activities, resist the urge to look at your phone. This wait time is ideal “connection” time. If necessary, bring paper, crayons, books, or anything they might enjoy doing with you while you wait. You might be the only person in the waiting room not looking at your phone and your children will love you for it.

      -Create at least ONE daily ritual where time with your loved one is sacred, meaning void of distraction. Whether that be tucking them in at night, having dinner together, enjoying morning snuggles, do it every day so that no matter how the rest of the day goes, your child (or significant other) can always count on that one period of connection. Even the smallest moments of connection will someday make up their most treasured childhood memories. That 10 minutes you spend talking together at night will add up. That 15 minute drive you take everyday singing together will add up. Keep in mind, all those ordinary, mundane daily activities can either add up to nothing (distraction) or they can add up to something meaningful and lasting (connection).

      Here is a post I wrote that someone reading might find helpful. It is an easy list of ways to go “Hands Free.” You can start with one step today.

      And I because some have come to my blog over the past two days and said I am neglecting my children by writing a blog and responding in depth to wonderful questions like yours, I will add that writing and speaking about my journey is my job. This is what I do this when my children are in school. I also have many personal email responses to readers saved in a file. I often get the same questions, therefore, I am able to provide today’s information based on things I already wrote. I am currently writing a book that outlines my step by step transformation and look forward to having that available to people who would like to start from the beginning and follow my journey.

      Marni, I thank you for bringing up this discussion and would love for anyone who has been on this journey with me to weigh in your thoughts to Marni’s questions. Thank you!

      • 345


        I thank you for taking the time to address my questions.
        I must say, I fully understand your responses…and I even gained something out if for myself. You stated,
        “I would suggest keeping a notebook handy when you are going unplugged. Then if you think of something you need to add to your online calendar or an email you need to send, you can write it down, rather than always going to your computer. Once your designated “Hands Free” time concludes, you can knock out the things on your list.”
        Honestly, this is the best piece of advice I could have gotten in a long, long time because I can easily say…”OH! I need to enter this into my phone.” And then I am on it for the next 5 mins checking FB, twitter and my email. But how I have been learning to avoid this is by simply waiting until I get back upstairs to get my phone to input it all…but then I usually forget what I need to input. So using a notepad to write things I need to update in my calendar, it’s perfect. Thank you! 😀
        Now, I am a writer, blogger, online college student, wife, AND a SAHM on top of homeschooling my little one. I graduate next fall, and am on summer break now after a grueling Spring semester filled with many papers (I’m a religion major…so I have LOTS of papers when school is in session). Some have no idea how I handle it, and most days, I don’t know how I handle it…but somehow God is giving me, and our family, the grace we need (because my husband is in school too to finish his degree as well, on top of working a FT job), and we are getting through.
        I find myself actually involving my son in the usage of technology (as does my husband when he is home). So about half the time I use my phone, or iPad, or even my laptop, I am inviting him to sit with me as I check my email, FB and Twitter…and even respond to comments. I also find myself using these devices as tools for his education. With so many great apps out there for the iPhone and iPad, it becomes a very useful tool. It doesn’t replace the use of books, but it is a helpful supplement that we do instate. I do balance myself to know when to put the phone (or any device) down, and spend time with my kiddo, when to get him in the world of technology – and then there are times, I send him on his way to his playroom so I can get some work done. Then after 20-30 mins, I go back to giving some attention to him.
        So from the differences we both have as the mom’s, wives, and general people we are…while I can see where you are coming from being in your shoes…I do believe this kind of hands free movement you have adopted is truly is a different design for each of mama. We all have different abilities to handle stresses, time, family, work, home life, etc. And we all have different degrees of these very aspects in each of our lives. What I value about your insight here, and mindset in general, is that no matter where a mama is at in her life…or what load(s) she take on…she can make intentional steps in her life to make certain she is addressing her child(ren) in the ways #1: she was designed to and #2: in how they (our kids) were designed. We are each specifically designed for our children, and our children are specifically designed for us, in order to help fill in the weakness gaps we each have…and fill in those holes with love, grace and mercy (and at times, from ourselves to our kids…some good, solid discipline). This way we are growing in relationship with them by filling up one another’s love tanks in how they were designed by God, and not looking for other things in this world to fill those holes (for as I am sure you agree, devices don’t offer love).
        I really do appreciate you bringing this very important topic to light, and I value you discussing through it with so many – even those who are in opposition. It is so easy to get sucked into this mentality online that words written for the general public can get so easily translated into personal attacks, when this is never the intents of the authors to begin with. As readers of blogs, we need to be very careful of the filters we read blogs with, just like books, and be willing to ask questions to help clear up the air if something doesn’t quite make sense. We don’t have the luxury of face-to-face correspondence here, so words needs to read and taken carefully online…and then we must be willing to ask questions if we need clarifications. Never should we jump to conclusions and assume anything. 🙂

        Thank you for being gracious to understand this, and communicate accordingly. I truly value it. 😀

        God Bless, Rachel! I look forward to further communication with you!


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    Jeannette says

    I am reading this via Time Warp Wife. You’ve got valid points. This could be related to any relationship, not just parents and children; I know a few friends or sisters of mine that could use this! but I also could in my relationship with my older mother who needs my attention very often. You can also turn it around in the way sometimes my children are using too many techy things to relate with me.Or what about when I am at the grocery check out line…do I talk on the phone to someone else instead of saying Hello and Thank you to the cashier?

  180. 348


    Thank you so much for this moving and insightful post. I really appreciate it. Amazingly, it didn’t make my cry, which tells me I’m not too far gone to shape up. Thanks for the nudge in the right direction!

  181. 349


    Beautiful. This post really hit home for me. In fact, I felt a need to write about this concept on my own blog and reference yours! Thanks for bringing up this challenging topic and for pushing us to unplug and connect.

  182. 350

    Jill says

    Thank you for making me stop to think today. I chose to be with my children after school & didn’t get distracted by anything technological. I felt happier. I looked my kids in the eye tonight as they talked to me. I held them as they read to me. I really listened to them. They smiled at me! I will make a better effort to do this more often. They are more important to me than anything else & I will act like it more.
    Our oldest son passed away & one of my only regrets is that I was distracted by checking e-mails & looking on the internet. I should have learned my lesson, but this is a great reminder. Those are moments that I can not take back, but I can change it for my precious children in my home now.

  183. 351

    Marc (Jimmy) Smith says

    I am 64 years old and I still, to this day, cannot remember my mother ever hugging me until I became an adult. I do remember our maid hugging us and kissing us. I even got to sleep with out maid and I loved it. She was so loving and endearing and treated us like her own. My mother and father divorced when I was almost a year old and she then remarried soon thereafter. My step-father I called Daddy and I loved him very much. My mother eventually had two more boys and my “Daddy” treated us as equals and for that I am eternally grateful.

  184. 353

    Paula says

    Very good article, for several years we have been doing no cell Sunday or what ever day, same goes for Televison, no t.v. Tuesdays , we read, play games, talk, go for a walk. Kids grow up so fast!

  185. 354

    Catherine says

    Hi Rachel.

    I’m so thankful that someone forwarded me your blog. It comes at a time when I really need it. I have seen the warning signs in myself and my husband, yet I hate it when others are distracted by their phones when I’m with them. My son picks up things and calls them his iphone. I want to change.

    I just left a job where I was a teacher at a corporate daycare, and my two kids were in school there. I realized that we were spending more money to
    have them there (even at half price) than I was making and that I was playing peekaboo with someone else’s kids while other teachers were
    essentially raising mine. I’ve been a stay at home mom for 6 weeks now and while I love it and find it incredibly rewarding, I’m also becoming more
    addicted to technology than before. I check texts at stoplights, I look at facebook at the lunch table sometimes, I spent their naptime on tumblr or
    returning emails. I have unmedicated ADD and am easily distracted, so this only exacerbates it. I also think I seek out these online connections to make me feel more a part of the adult community I don’t have anymore. Linking to art reviews or discussing politics online gives me a sense of worth that is different – not better – than what I feel with my kids.
    Interactions online tell me – you’re still witty! You’re still smart! You’re still hip! (That’s not feedback you necessarily get when you’re ankle deep in poop and hand foot and mouth disease.) I look forward to it
    but afterwards it makes me feel empty – like binging on ice cream – but I can’t help myself. I end up spending their naptime doing that instead of
    things that need to be done like laundry or art that would feed my spirit.

    I don’t want to look up and have regrets years from now. I’ve never been addicted to smoking or drinking, but I imagine this is what it feels like.
    I know I need help… please tell me, where do I start (when some of technology is rewarding)?

    Thanks so much for this gift of enlightenment! You’ve opened my eyes!

    • 355


      The fact that you are thinking about how to be present for your children should be encouraging to you, Catherine! Even small acts will make a difference to your children.

      Here are some other specific ideas that might help:

      -Try going to places were there is no electronic distraction and leave the devices at home. We love visiting the local library for this reason. We go on family hikes and picnics for this reason. We look at our local paper on the weekends and visit new places such as museums, farmer’s markets, inexpensive sporting events, an unfamiliar parks. (The photo above was taken when we found an unexpected stream and explored for hours). There is often resistance from the kids, but we go anyway. Once there, our distractions become the last thing on our minds and lasting memories and meaningful connections are made.

      – Consistently invite your family members to engage in an activity at home that does not involve electronic distraction. You know best what activities might be of interest to the members of your family, but in our home, I often tell my children I am shutting down the TV/computer and we are going for a walk. We recently bought several family board games and are striving to play games together on a regular basis. My children are not always happy with me when I declare it is time to turn off their distraction, but once we engage in an activity together, we are ALL happier and more relaxed than we were “plugged in.”

      -It helps tremendously to turn off all notifications on my phone so there is no temptation to “check.” Having that uninterrupted “Hands Free” time with your kids will make a tremendous impact on them and also on you. I know these boundaries might seem impossible, but if you begin taking little steps to let go of distraction and connect to your family, you will feel a difference immediately. You will feel more at peace and more connected to the important parts of life. And what you thought was “so important” will be put into perspective once you have spent time bonding with your children.

      -Get outside. There is just something about being outside that causes me to abandon my technology and just enjoy nature. Even if it is only for 15 minutes, go outside and watch your children investigate their surroundings. My children are the best “Hands Free” role models I know. Being outside creates mindfulness that we are part of something much larger than ourselves and our day-to-day problems. Being outside is like a slap in the face to cherish the moments that matter. Also getting away from the phone/computer opens your eyes to the beauty of the world. Also, think about the positive role modeling you are providing for your children. They see mom taking a walk rather than being online. That is meaningful to children and can actually make a positive difference in how they live their own lives.

      -Refrain from using your phone when driving your children. At first, they might be quiet, but keep trying. I like to ask my kids open-ended questions like: If you could do anything you wanted to do today, what would you do? Or if you had $100 what would you buy? Or if you could have any pet, what would you have and what would you name it? If you can think of any questions besides “How was your day?” it really helps to make them more willing to talk.

      -When you are with your children/family in “waiting” situations like the doctor’s office, resist the urge to look at your phone. This wait time is ideal “connection” time. Ask for paper, crayons, books, or anything they might enjoy doing with you while you wait. You might be the only person in the waiting room not looking at your phone and your children will love you for it.

      This one is the most important (in my opinion):

      -Create at least ONE daily ritual where time with your loved one is sacred, meaning void of distraction. Whether that be tucking them in at night, having dinner together, enjoying morning snuggles, do it every day so that no matter how the rest of the day goes, your child can always count on that one period of connection. Even the smallest moments of connection will someday make up their most treasured childhood memories. That 5 minutes you spend talking together at night will add up. That 10 minute drive you take everyday singing together will add up. Keep in mind, all those ordinary, mundane daily activities can either add up to nothing (distraction) or they can add up to something meaningful and lasting (connection).

      Good luck! Keep me posted!!!

  186. 357

    Jenny says

    You don’t need to be a parent to heed this advice, everyone needs to focus on life and not the technology that interrupts us all day long. Recently my boss asked me about an email that was only sent seconds prior to him asking. I told him I hadn’t even seen it as I don’t let emails interrupt me when I’m working on something important/time sensitive/requiring focus. He was honestly confused. Until I’m a dispatcher checking 911 emails, they are no freakin emergency. Phone calls to my desk always get answered, emails get checked often, but not *constantly*. The world keeps turning even though I didn’t respond to something within 4 seconds, if you can even believe it.

  187. 358

    Lanissa Finney says

    Wow! What an eye opener… While I dont spend all my time on the phone (or least I dont think so), my family might disagree. This really hit my heart. Sometimes we need to be confronted as parents with gentle taps… thanks for sharing

  188. 359

    Kristen says

    I recently moved out of state from my friends and family. My sister and best friend came to visit me in early April and they spent the ENTIRE weekend on their phones or ipods… When I was staying at my aunt and uncle’s for the first few weeks after my move, they spent all their time together (even with my cousins) on their ipads or iphones. I would only take mine out just so I wouldn’t feel like the oddball expecting to have a conversation. I’ve had depression for a long time, and I don’t recall my parents ever being “present” due to the many other siblings I had. I sort of fell through the cracks and never got help. It doesn’t even take a cellphone to cause this sort of experience for a child.

  189. 361

    vivienne says

    i can’t tell you how thankful i am to have discovered your beautiful blog 🙂 it got me out of bed at 4:30 am, leaving my pillow soaked in tears. my daughter is 13 months old and already i feel like she’s growing too fast. i want to make the most of every second i have with her. your daughters are lucky to have you 🙂 happy mother’s day!!

  190. 362

    David Downing says

    What a horrible mother!!!!!! You should’ve realized this was horrrible a long time ago, and you think you have the right to a blog?? What idiot doesn’t realize that she’s wasting precious tie blabbing away on the phone??? And what kind of person needs to read this blog to realize that they should get off the phone and spend time with their kids???

  191. 365


    Wonderful blog! I am guilty as charged. Thank you for the kind reminder to absorb the moments with them. There are 2 song I posted on my blog that hit me every time. On my blog click on “on my heart” and watch the VOTA video ‘Show me what Ive got”. It will melt you :0)

  192. 367

    Lola says

    OK, I agree with being present with your child, and I agree that far too many people today are distracted. But, I think we also have to remember that previous generations of parents–mine for example (I’m 42)–did not parent nearly as exhaustively and 24/7 as this one. I don’t think any generation spent the majority of their children’s lives gazing lovingly into their eyes.

    Parents have always had other distractions and responsibilities, now we just have hand held mobile ones. I think my husband and I easily spend twice as much time with our children as our parents did and do it gladly, and I think that’s true for almost everyone I know. “Present” has become almost omnipresent!

    Yes, of course we shouldn’t text and drive, but don’t look at your phone during a game–please, I played 2 sports through school and I don’t think my parents ever WENT to a game. Every parent I know now attends all practices and games, that’s just the way it is. In light of that, how neglectful is phone use?

    Anyway, I agree with the main points, but we as parents have set a really high bar for parenting, and I see this article as more of the same. Be present for your child, yes, and any addictive use of anything can be bad, but I think we have to be pragmatic that sometimes parents need a moment away. For most of us we’re either at work, with a child, doing a necessary task or sleeping. How much free/me time do most of us have scheduled into our days? I see rampant phone use as an attempt to snatch free/me time from a intense schedule.

  193. 368

    Lynn says

    I am so glad that someone finally voiced these thoughts. It should be required reading to become a parent.

  194. 369

    Rhonda says

    I would even say that allowing children to play with your phone/iPad/tablet is a huge distraction. They are being raised by electronics, just like kids in the 80s and 90s were raised by TV. Except this is even worse because phones go with you everywhere.

  195. 370

    Nancy says

    This was an amazing post! As I sat at my daughter’s gymnastics exhibition this afternoon, I was blown away by the ridiculous numbers of people on their phones. The woman next to me, friendly as could be, sat and wrote e-mails and checked Facebook for 2 hours straight. She did pay attention when her daughter performed, but was not there to pay attention to any one else. I see people going out to dinner in groups and they ALL have cell phones perched right next to them and they are ALL texting, calling, and NOT interacting with the people they went out to dinner with. What did we do before cell phones? We communicated, we interacted, we were social. If I am with my kids, the phone is away. If we are at home, the phone is usually on mute. I am not perfect and your message reminds me that I can do better. We all need to do better, for the sake of our kids.

  196. 373

    Amanda says

    This is a great article, an a discussion that NEEDS to happen more often in our modern, tech-dependent society. And by tech-dependent I mean addicted, dependency like that of a drug that takes control of your will, your life. As this writer cleverly points out, the dependency is real… Withdrawal symptoms are a real, as proven by new psychological studies, which further proves how dependent people to the destructive behavior of constantly checking their phones, constantly needing the distraction, the inability to control when and how often to use it, to the detriment of ALL human relationships around them, not just that with their children, albeit that is arguably the most impactful one.
    The point I’m trying to make is – yes, this is a dependency parents MUST get rid off for the sake of their kids, but also one that every person – young or old – must control in order to have meaningful relationships with people in their lives, whther their children, their parents, but just as importantly their partners, their friends or their collegues. Id go as far as to say that even the strangers in your life, the person you interact with at the grocery store or the clerk at the pharmacy…. They all deserve that we be present. Civilized society is based on the simple principle of respect and courtesy to our fellow citizens, and that is being lost through our self-imposed distractions.
    It has also been proven by studies that to maintain a mental and spuritual balance, and thus better function in society and live a happier life, the brain needs to DISCONNECT. People don’t realize the impact of being constantly ‘wired’, and how negatively that impacts their overall well being.

    Thanks for posting this, and here’s to hoping that the awareness grows, and that we learn to use our devices in moderation, giving priority to what us social beings need to be fulfilled emotionally and spiritually: real human interaction, as opposed to virtual.

  197. 375


    One of my FB friends posted a link to this post. I read it while I took a break at the my work. I was getting emotional while reading it and after reading it I wanted to throw my fone out the window and rush to my daughter at home! I thought I was sensitive to her needs, but yes, I am guilty!

    I had the best Mother’s Day today with my daughter. I put my phone away. I wanted to spend the day with her w/out any distractions! Things will be different now. Go Hands Free Revolution! I will surely post about your blog! Such an eye opener! Thank you so so much!

  198. 377


    we are an unconventional family as well with no cell phones, and no television. we do have computers and the internet. and i have a blog. but we do our best to spend as much face time with our children, and each other, as we can.
    i’ve been in the hospital with my little for just shy of three months now, and two family members came to visit. i’m not exaggerating when i say they spent their whole visit (that was intended to celebrate my 30th birthday) on their phones. i was pretty heartbroken as an adult, and especially one who has spent so much time over the last few months alone with a very sick baby. i can’t imagine the pain and rejection felt from the perspecitve of a child.

  199. 381


    I am a Mother with grown children. I didn’t have a choice of a cell phone when my children were little. I enjoyed doing many things with my children. Now I have nearly grown grandchildren. I have had a cell phone throughout their lives. And I am so thankful that I have had. Even though I was at work as a realtor, I was able to answer their parents’ calls for help, pick up someone at school, take them to the orthodontist and other errands which gave me extra time with my grandchildren I wouldn’t have been able to have if they had not been able to reach me. My grandchildren were often at my house, and when the phone rang, cell or line, I could ignore it and continue with them. Now that they are teenagers and even older, I treasure each text from a grandchild – they don’t call – they text. They have busy lives and I am thrilled when they take time to send a text. So the conclusion to this is – Why do we have to throw them away? Why not just control them? If you can’t stand to hear them ring – turn them off! Use them for good. Don’t presume that just because someone has a smart phone, they spend their time on games and calls and ignore their families. What is important is to focus on your family. Even if you don’t have a smart phone, if you don’t learn to focus on your family, something else will distract you. I’ve watched two generations grow up now, my how fast the time went. Don’t waste a moment. Time with the kids have been some of the best of my life. Enjoy all you mothers with little ones out there. Happy Mother’s Day.

    • 382


      Great points, Eunice! I totally agree—there is nothing “wrong” or “bad” about technology. It is HOW and WHEN we choose to use these tools that can cause damage in our personal relationships and prevent us from living in the moment. Living Hands Free does not mean abandoning technology, it means creating designated times to be fully present in order to connect to what (or who) matters in our life. It sounds like you do it quite well. I appreciate your comment.

  200. 383


    GREAT post! very, very good challenges here. I have felt convicted about this for awhile and have told myself that I needed to change for awhile now. I’m not *quite* as bad as the list you named but enough of them to feel distracted. I really needed this kick in the pants. thanks so much for sharing.

  201. 384

    Diana says

    Upon arrival to the park the other day, I realized that I had left my phone at home. Honestly it was a breath of fresh air to be present again. Thank you Rachel for your most powerful message. It has been taken to heart.

  202. 385

    michele says

    we do we choose to live our life through a screen and not through our eyes? thanks for this message it’s applicable to anyone who is not living in the moment, with or without children. I think of the people stuck in the office 12 hours a day for example… so much life missed on their doorstep… an excellent wake up call…

  203. 386


    Thank you for leaving this post. I know I am guilty too often of being on my phone, checking email, etc., but I also consciously try to have many moments and hours with my device out of reach and focusing on my family. The time that we connect most with each other (and disconnect from technology) is during our nightly family dinner, which we hold sacred.

    • 387


      Thank you, Aviva. I commend you for protecting your dinner hour. I often tell my readers that having even one sacred daily ritual (like tucking in, dinner time, walking the dog, etc) creates a lasting bond between you and your child that very well might become one of their cherished childhood memories. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

  204. 390


    This post was so eye opening! Thank you!!! I linked up to it in my blog ( and posted it on facebook with an overwhelming response. It is something I think every parent and care provider should read!
    Thank you, thank you!!

  205. 391


    WOW…. this hit home big time. I am guilty of it all! I’m going to pray hard and work to be “hands free” and put my heart into each moment with my kids.

    Thank you for your post!

  206. 392

    Madeline says

    My kids are grown now, and I can only hope that their memories of me are that I always made time for them. Now, I get to limit phone use whenever I am with my grandkids so that they will know how precious and important they are.

  207. 393


    What a powerful post.
    Now I am so glad that I have a borrowed, un-apped old-school kind of phone that i forget to charge and only have pre-pay (and no internet) on.
    BUT the danger for me is this very machine I am tapping away on right now. the computer. The blog I love, titled “Greatfun4kids” – which ironically can so easily steal my attention, not just my time.
    So before I get too smug and self-congratulatory, I want to let your words sink right in… Yep, got ’em.
    (will share this too)

  208. 394

    Megan says

    THANK YOU!!!! I am that “one” person you hoped to reach who had tears in her eyes….A long time coming wake up call that I knew in the back of my mind but reading it here has made all the difference. Thank you.

    • 396


      Oh wow! That was simply beautiful and powerful! You have a gift with words, my friend. I will be sharing this on “The Hands Free Revolution.” THANK YOU! What a gift you have given me today.

  209. 397


    WOW!!!!!!!! SOOOOO AWESOME!!!!!! Thought provoking to say the least!!! THANK YOU for what you wrote – SUCH a wake-up call!!!!! LIFE IS PRECIOUS!!! We need to LIVE IT!! =)

  210. 398

    Mea says

    Reading this made me feel great! I have a cell phone, but I rarely [if ever] keep it charged/on me. I’m young, 21, and I have an almost 2 year old. People seem shocked when I talk to her while we’re shopping – like it’s absurd for me to speak to my child.

    Because of my constant communication with my daughter, however, she’s at the very top of the bracket for verbal communication [speaking in nearly full sentences a good 90% of the time], the very top of the bracket for math and retention skills [she can count to 29 on her own, do patterns, and do simple addition and subtraction], and an all around awesome kid. I know a lot of that is genetic, but I can’t help but think that if I had the need to be constantly connected/away from her mentally she would not be this attune to the REAL world around her – not the one in behind the screen.

  211. 399

    Lisa Nel says

    This article really pulled me back and made me look at my own relationship with my little girl of two and a half. This morning before work i took my cellphone to check the time and she immediately said “Mommy put down your phone”. One does not realise that just as much as technology makes our lives easier it also detaches us more and more of living it in full.
    Well, I’ve put down my phone and made a concious decision to spend more one-on-one time with her and my husband. We lose out so much looking through the lens of a camera rather than being htere in the moment with the ones we love.

  212. 401


    Never a more true word spoken. I have tried over the last few weeks to leave my phone tucked away in a drawer or in my bag during the day as I have the, not uncommon it seems, problem over device overload. It was not until my son asked me to put my phone down one day that I realised how much I used it. I used to take it out and about to use as a camera which usually led to a quick check in on Facebook. Now i take a “proper” camera. I am now trying to get his dad to do the same. I may have to email this post to him. No device, social network or random twitter music is worth missing out on a childhood for. Thank you for the great post.

    • 402


      Thank you for sharing your experiences, Natalie! I love your point about using a “proper camera” rather than your iPhone to take pictures. That illustrates one small change a person can make that can end up helping protect our precious time with loved ones. You are so right when you say that picking up the phone to take a picture often leads to checking it for other things like email and FB. Before you know it, 15 minutes that you could have spent conversing with your spouse or loved one is gone. I love my digital camera and often leave my phone completely at home when we go on weekend outings. I know everyone does not have that freedom due to their occupation or family responsibilities, but even if you are phone-free for an hour, it can feel renewing.

  213. 403

    Kim says

    I think there are some wonderful gems of insight and advice in what you have to say and I applaud you for both your decision to change your and your family’s life and for encouraging others. BUT I think both your blog and the comments could be yet another version of “the mommy wars” and could heap even more guilt on some already overburdened moms.

    I don’t think that’s your intent at all, but it could feel that way to some women – and some of the comments from your readers, especially, sound a bit “holier-than-thou”. We each have different and very individual lives and to make assumptions about others who you see briefly in public is ludicrous. So you see a mom on her phone for 5 minutes or even an hour and you automatically label her “bad mom” – assuming she always “ignores” her kids and loves her “gadgets” more than them? Shame on you! How hypocritical.

    Maybe, like me, she’s a homeschool mom whose six kids don’t or didn’t even go to school at all. Maybe this mom is with her kids 24/7 and spends 4-6 hours a day homeschooling them, including a couple hours a day just reading aloud quality literature to them. Instead of public or private school PE, extra-curricular classes and field trips this mom may be part of a homeschool co-op where the parents run the weekly PE class and arrange and conduct the field trips and extra classes.

    She doesn’t have the luxury of all that uninterrupted time while her kids are in school to have her “technology time” – to work, catch up on emails, make phone calls and yes, even to take a few minutes to read blogs like this or connect with friends and family on Facebook. The busy homeschooling mom doesn’t get out to a job every day so FB can be our hangout, water cooler, lunch date, “teacher’s lounge” or whatever.

    And also, like me, she may be a military wife with parents and siblings in one state, grown kids and grandkids in another, and herself, her husband and their younger kids in yet another. That just may be her oldest daughter whom she loves and hasn’t seen in a year that she’s talking or texting to, or new pictures of her grandbaby she’s looking at on Facebook. Or maybe she’s talking to her mother, whom she hasn’t seen in four years, or her best friend, who moved to Puerto Rico two years ago and the ONLY way they can connect is through FB or email, while living in vastly different time zones, no less. Maybe she’s texting her teenaged son about something important or her pre-teen daughter, to check on her. Or maybe she’s emailing or talking to her husband who’s on deployment in Iraq – or sending him pictures of their 4 month old child, whom he hasn’t even met yet. All of those have been me, at one time or another, and it’s insulting that someone might happen by me for a brief moment of my life and judge me as a “bad mom” for being on my iPhone.

    And maybe this “bad mom” even has a part-time job, or other important responsibilities – volunteer or church positions, kids’ activities to coordinate – and maybe there are important emails to answer, notes to take down on her iPad, appointments to schedule in her calendar on her phone, a checkbook register to balance on the phone, homeschool planning to do, dinner menus to prepare, books to read on her Kindle app, shopping to do – the list is endless…

    And maybe, rather than take away from “homeschool time” or “family time” or whatever, she chooses to use little snatches of time here and there throughout the day to get the same “work” done that moms whose kids go to school get 6-7 hours of uninterrupted time to do. A few minutes “plugged in” while in the doctors office or while standing in line does NOT mean this mom always ignores her kids. And instead of taking little snippets of “quality time” with her kids while waiting at the doctors this mom is spending lots of “quantity time” with her kids every day, all day, which IS quality time, too. So who is the better mom – the one who puts away her iPhone to spend “quality time” with her kids after they’ve been away at school for 6 hours, or the one sitting in the doctor’s office on her iPhone, after she just spent 6 hours homeschooling her kids?

    Neither is better! They both are the best mom for their kids, and when and how they use technology is a very individual decision. Work or don’t work, breast or bottle, homeschool or public school, hands-free or not – it’s all the same to me – a way to judge ourselves against other women and make ourselves feel better because we’re not like them.

    And please, don’t get me started on sporting events! My youngest daughter competed in gymnastics for three years, until I realized how ridiculous it was. You can drive 6 hours each way, stay in a hotel overnight and spend 1o -12 hours at a gymnastics meet, only to watch YOUR child compete for less that 10 minutes total! Even to watch your child’s entire team takes under an hour. The truth is that 99% of the kids are only there to make the other kids look good and everyone is bored out of their minds, kids included. I only wish I’d had my iPhone when my daughter was competing and when I realized what a joke and colossal waste of time “team sports” are I pulled her out. It was the best decision we ever made. Same story, different sport with little league, and now we use that time for FAMILY time, but I digress….

    Everyone here is reading this blog and the comments – maybe on a computer or maybe on an iPhone. “Making a living” – or just expressing your creativity – by blogging for one person may result in someone else “wasting time” reading your blog! We all “waste time” sometimes, just like we all have legitimate needs for technology. And sometimes a little “wasting time” on Facebook or reading blogs IS a legitimate need. WHEN we use that technology is up to us, and no one should judge us for it, since they don’t know what our life entails.

    You might just look derisively at a mom “glued to her iPhone” out in public, as you rush home to see the latest episode of “your show” – or shows – on TV. I’m probably the only person in America who has never seen one single episode of “American Idol” or “Dancing With the Stars”. I could not pick Simon – whoever he is – out of a line up, and if you ask me if I’ve “seen that new commercial” the answer will always be no, unless I walked by when my husband was watching TV. I don’t watch TV – ever. I love a good movie, but TV – forget it! Does that make me better than you? No! It just means we have different priorities and needs. And I might need to be on my iPhone in public just as much as my husband “needs” to zone out in front of the TV after a stressful day at work. I used to give him a really hard time about his TV habit, until I realized how hypocritical and judgemental that was. He is an intelligent, successful man, a hard worker and a great dad and husband I it’s not my job to “decide” when and how he should use TV. But I appreciate the same respect from him and from others about my “technology” usage.

    Smart phones are NOT the bad guy! Like others have said, my parents didn’t have them and they were not nearly as involved in my and my siblings lives as I am with my kids and grandkids, even with my iPhone, iPad and laptop. I hear you on the “go play” line! Or more accurately in my case, “get outside” – just a nicer way to say, “get out of my hair”! Parents have always found ways to ignore their kids – cell phones are no more “evil” than anything else. Just new and different – and maybe a bit “scary” to some people!

    I love technology – love my iPhone, iPad and laptop! I can tell you it’s given me a LOT more time, freedom and flexibility and it’s given me more time WITH my family, as well as a much needed break sometimes. And 9 times out of 10 when it rings I will NOT answer it. That’s one thing that I love about my iPhone. If it rings while I’m reading to my kids or playing with my grandkids, or in the checkout line somewhere I can screen the call and ignore it if it’s not urgent, knowing that when I’M ready to return the call it will only take the touch of a touchscreen to do, unlike my landline, which is a major hassle to use. I NEVER use my landline, for just that reason!

    And my kids love their gadgets, too. All of my kids from age 6 and up had iPods or itouches and from 10 up had cell phones. Besides being a useful tool, I get the sweetest texts from my youngest daughter, sometimes even while she’s in the same room! And as a homeschooling mom I consider my kids’ iTouches or my iPhone or iPad as essential tools. Besides all the ways I use them to make homeschooling planning and homemaking easier, my kids use them for all kinds of educational games, educational” music and videos, podcasts and to read and research things.

    And the books – oh the books! We have literally hundreds of audiobooks in my iTunes library, and my kids listen to them every single day or night (at bedtime) on their iPods. My kids have listened to books like “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Chronicals of Narnia” hundreds of times. That’s largely how they learned to read – by listening to audiobooks over and over. And when they learned to read they still continued to listen for pleasure – even my 18 year old still listens to audiobooks on his iPhone every night at bedtime.

    And the Kindle app on their iPod Touches or iPhones (or my iPad) is nothing short of amazing. My 14 year old adores his kindle app, and prefers kindle books to paper ones – them being so portable. And so many of the really great old classic ones are free. You can’t beat that! And as an avid reader who has always taken at least one book (or five!) everywhere I go I adore my Kindle of iPhone app. Now I have 50 or 500 books – for my kids and myself – in my purse at all times – and they don’t weigh an ounce over the weight of my iPhone or iPad!

    I’ll always prefer paper books, of course, and we own thousands of them, but kindle books are a very important tool in my homeschooling toolbox. And if you see my 8 year old “plugged in” to his iPod Touch listening to “Peter Pan” or my 14 year old “staring at a screen” reading “The Silmarillion” on his, why oh why would you think them somehow “inferior” to a child who is reading a paper book?! Or think me a bad parent for not being “hands free” or making my kids “hands free”, as well?

    I do think that you have some great insight here on technology, and I respect your choices and the advice you are sharing with others, which I believe is from the heart. And I do think we all need to be aware of how we spend our time – whether it’s too much time on the phone, the computer, watching TV, playing video games or whatever. We don’t want to look back and feel we’ve wasted our lives on anything frivolous and stupid, instead of with our families and loved ones. We do need to consciously be aware of how we spend our time, and yes, even put away the cell phone, laptop, book or whatever sometimes. But hands free? I’m not so sure about that. I guess I’m too much of a rebel for that. I’m not good at following rules, especially arbitrary rules that don’t make sense to ME or work for MY family. If “hands free” means that “good moms” never use their iPhones in public or never get on their computer when their kids are around then, as a Navy-wife, homeschooling mom of six and grandma of four with a part-time job working with foreign exchange students (which requires some time online, often spur of the moment) and whose kids are ALWAYS around and whose life is crazy and hectic then I guess I am destined to be a “bad” and “non-hands free” mom. I can live with that!

    • 404


      Thank you for sharing your perspective and insight, Kim. I appreciate the opportunity to clarify what it means to be “Hands Free” on my journey.

      Being “Hands Free” does not mean abandoning technology altogether.I totally agree with the points you made about the value of technology. The Internet, electronic devices, and even social networking sites like Facebook are not “bad” — they can actually be highly beneficial to our lives. It is how and when we CHOOSE to use them that can be harmful to our lives and our relationships.
      Being “Hands Free” means temporarily letting go of external or internal distraction (i.e.; phone, computer, unrealistic standards, perfection) to be fully present with someone or something meaningful in one’s life. It is about creating designated times to connect with a loved ones. I illustrated this point at the end of my blog post when I wrote: “Whether it is for 10 minutes, 2 hours, or an entire Saturday, beautiful human connection, memory making, and parent-child bonding can occur every single time you let go of distraction to grasp what really matters.”

      Obviously, we as parents all have different ways of connecting with our children–you are exactly right. There is definitely no right or wrong way, nor is there a wrong or right time to do it. This message was intended to serve as a reminder that the distractions of the modern age can so quickly sabotage those connections and limit our time to make those connections. I mentioned my own personal experience with this several times in the article because I lost 2 years with my kids due to my distraction. It sounds like you have created a healthy balance in your life and that is very inspiring. On my “Hands Free” journey, I have also gained a newfound balance with technology and living. I have also found simple ways each day to have meaningful connection with my family. It was my hope that by sharing these experiences, I could bring an newfound awareness to other parents experiencing the same distraction overload that I once experienced.

      You have brought up some excellent points. I appreciate you sharing your own experiences and allowing me a chance to clarify.

    • 405

      Krissy says

      Your post was more eloquent than anything I could have ever typed. You showed some major class in how you presented your points and I find myself agreeing with everything you said.

      Bonus points for mentioning Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion!

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    all so pertinent. Worth noting it was no different in the generation I grew up in….just different ways of distracting and being busy or vacant.

    • 407


      You are so right, Wendy. Thanks for the valid point. Distractions can come in MANY forms, not just technology. I often write about the “internal distraction” in my life (pressure for perfection, feelings of guilt and regret, unrealistic standards. etc) that often prohibit me from “grasping what really matters.” Thanks for the comment!

  215. 408

    Katrina says

    Reading this brought tears to my eyes.

    I’m only 15 years old and I have already graduated from high school .

    Honestly, I wanted my dad to take interest in me. Really get to know me. Whenever he talks to me, it’s to do something for him for his job applications or an online game. When my high school graduation came, I was so psyched because he didn’t come to my testimonial dinner where he could see what I’ve been doing in high school. I earned a bronze medal and I wanted to see his face when they announce my name. But he wasn’t there. He had a meeting. The sad thing about it is that he could have still made it. When his meeting ended, he could have made it to the last 2 hours of the testimonial dinner.

    But he didn’t.

    He made it to my older brother’s graduation and also my little sister’s testimonial dinner. He had time for them.

    But he never had time for me or even tried to make time.

    So I went onstage without my dad, who I so badly wanted to be there for me, at least in the most crucial moments in my life. He also could have made it to my grad… but it seemed he was more interested to play online games more than to see me succeed.

    So this article really meant so much to me, because this is what I wanted my dad to do for me. At least look at how much I’ve worked hard for you; at least notice me for more than a few minutes, Dad.

    • 409


      Dear Katrina,

      Thank you for sharing this. You are brave and courageous. Your experience brings me to tears, and my heart goes out to you. You have given us all a gift … everyone who comes here and reads your words will be moved and awaken. You have illustrated the importance of parents to be fully present in their children’s lives in a way that no adult ever could. You may have saved a relationship today. In fact, I am certain you have.

      Katrina, I pray that somehow your dad comes to understand how he has hurt you … whether it be by you sharing what is on your heart or by another means. And what I would want to say to him is this: Your daughter is only 15. It is not too late to be a part of her life. It is not too late to know her, really know every precious and amazing thing about her. It is not too late. Just spend time with her–your time is her greatest gift. And you will come to find that time with your precious child is YOUR greatest gift, too.

      Katrina, I can tell you are an incredibly wise, compassionate, and beautiful soul. May you find peace and the love you so rightly deserve, dear one.


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    Jaybird says

    Oh yes!!!!! You are absolutely correct!!! It is so heartbreaking to go to a restaurant and see a family sitting to table with Mom and Dad so engrossed in their phones and the poor little kids are just gazing into space.
    I’m afraid that my dear hubby and I have no problem with telling the parents to wake up and enjoy the kiddos while they can!! We also talk to the kids and tell them how nicely they are acting!
    Bless you my friend for taking a public stand and doing it so eloquently!

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    Missy Kenny-Corron says

    I am still so lame I usually forget to turn my phone on.. we don’t answer phones unless it is a true emergency, I struggled so to become a mother (adoption) that I want to enjoy every precious minute I have with them.. two of mine came home old enough to say – HEY! Could you pay attention to ME please.. so I don’t dare break the rules.. LOL Family dinner where we share the best and worst of our day (Pits & Cherries) and story time, talking time or Mommy time… dates so each one (we have 3) get a turn to have Mom or Dad all to themselves………. I relish this role – and I too am a busy professional working Mom with a working husband.. we manage to engage our children each day.. and spend as much time as we can listening, hugging and just loving these incredible gifts we were given!! Love the blog – love the premise. Good Luck and Congrats on recognizing the most important thing we do is SHOW our children they are our most precious and loved family members.

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    Sharmin says

    A very insightful and truthful reality and it affects children too. My mother banned me from using my phone at home and my personal laptop, at first it was difficult but now Im grateful as Iv realised how much time it took away from important things like my mum, my siblings, i realised all the time I missed out on spending with my mum as she has grown old. I now have time for so much more. My wish is for every child to realise how much parents mean before they are gone!!

    • 413


      Sharmin, you are a very wise and insightful young lady. Your comment is simply beautiful and inspires me greatly. I can’t wait to read it to my daughters (ages 8 and 5). Thank you!

  219. 414


    I really enjoyed reading all the comments. as a grandmother I hear my women friends complain how their adult children and grandchildren do the same thing to them. even interupting a holiday like christmas. my grandchildren are still too little but I fear that I’ll be faced with the same disinterest. it has happened a few times with my adult children and their spouses. there is nothing more humiliating than being ignored by the people you love. just thought i’d share from a a grandparent’s perspective.

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    thank you. thank you. thank you. I’ve turned nursing my sleepy 8th infant into computer time. I’m heading back to the couch because only then do I seem accessible to my other kids. More snuggling, more reading, more talking. Starting today.

  221. 417


    On the flipside of things, I wish I had realized this lesson while my mom was still alive.

    I would sit across the room with my laptop and cell phone, diving into a virtual world and completely ignoring her. She would get so frustrated, having to repeat things she said to me, two, three times before I’d actually look up from my screen and absorb what she was saying. But I just couldn’t unplug.

    It should have been obvious how lonely she was, being sick and housebound, with me going to school full time and working, and how she longed for conversation with the one person she had left in this life.

    Unplug. Pay attention to the people that matter in your life. You will regret it if you don’t.

    Glad I saw this! Nice blog.

  222. 418

    Rachel says

    Very nice article. I’m always on my Husband about this.
    Could I ask you something tho…If your going to disable right clicks (probably to disable a copy) could you please enable your links to open in a new window. Nothing worse then losing a good article because you want to follow a link its referencing to another post. Thx!

    • 419


      Thank you, Rachel. I really appreciate you letting me know. My site got overloaded last week and tech support on my server had to make changes. I am still working out the bugs and did not realize readers could not open the links in a new window now. I really appreciate you letting me know and I hope to have it fixed shortly!

  223. 420


    Thank you, thank you! I have become convicted of how often my husband and I use our smartphones and computers not only in each other’s presence, but also in the presence of our 9-month-old son. This post is just what I needed. I will be sharing this.

  224. 421


    Oh how I needed to hear this. My blog has turned into an unexpected career and it’s so nice to feel I’m not alone when it comes to these many distractions. Sometimes I am so great at putting the technology away, and other times I just plain stink at it! So glad I found this post from a friend. Thank you for being brave to share your feelings and motivating others just like myself!

  225. 422

    Michelle Ramos says

    A couple of months ago, an attempt to switch to a new phone carrier failed spectacularly and I lost my phone number and was without a phone for several weeks while we found another solution. During that time, I had so many emails from friends complaining that they couldn’t reach me instantly. Could they still email me? Yes. Could they drop by? Yes. But they wanted the instant access of the cell phone and I was denying them that instant gratification.

    It was the best few weeks I’d had in a long time. Everyone complained but I loved it–I felt free. My time was my own again. My time was no longer divided either. And, while I have a phone again, I learned a valuable lesson–I *don’t* have to answer it just because it’s ringing. I don’t have to check my email while I’m at the grocery store. I don’t need to update my status while I’m at the park with the kids. I want to spend more time being free.

  226. 424

    Darshna says

    Can I add that this expands to humanity in general, we are all missing each other with the gadget distractions.

    Thank you for posting this its truly to be shared world over.

  227. 425

    Kelley says

    This was a little painful to read because now my toes hurt! BUT it was something I NEEDED to read because it’s absolutely true. When your 3 year old tells you to shut the laptop and get off the computer, you might have a problem. I don’t want to miss out on a second of her. It’s time for me to change and take hold of what’s really important. Thank you for your boldness!

    • 429


      Thank you, Christine, for sharing this with me. I found your post to be incredibly authentic and inspiring. I applaud the commitment you are making to be present for your children. What an honor to share this journey with you.

  228. 431

    Ayana says

    I love this and have been guilty of a thing or two on this list. I stopped cold turkey a year ago when my then 4 yr old son with frustration in his voice, asked me to put down my phone so he could tell me something. My heart broke a little in that moment but it was my reality check. Now, I’m only “connected” when it’s an absolute must or after the kiddos have gone to bed. Awesome post!

  229. 432

    Dani says

    I haven’t cried this hard in a long time. With every post I read the tears came faster and faster until I was practically sobbing. I grew up with a single, working mother and I remember constantly wishing that she would want to play with us more instead of being exhausted after a full day of work. I envied the kids who got to go home to their mothers right after school while I had to wait until after five to see mine. I don’t begrudge my mother and her dedication to providing for us but that was a large part of my decision to be a stay-at-home mom. And it is heart-breaking when I stop and think about all of the times that I’ve pushed my son away because that pile of laundry has to be folded immediately or put my daughter in her bouncer so my hands were free to respond to an email or check Facebook or talk on the phone. I’ve even laid next to my husband in bed and been completely absent while I browsed the internet or played Words with Friends.

    My family is so precious and our kids have grown too quickly. I refuse to miss one more second because I just have to check one more thing off my to-do list. I can’t wait for my son to get up from his nap because we are starting our hands free summer today!

    Thank you for these beautiful insights and the reminder that to my children love is spelled T-I-M-E.

  230. 433


    So beautifully put. Simple. Poignant. Inspiring. Time to turn off and turn attention where it matters most. We can blame the tech, the system and others but at the end of the day it’s down to each of us where we put our attention. Great reminder. Thanks.

  231. 434

    Kelly says

    Thanks. I began reading this article while breastfeeding my 7 month old but then stopped, concentrated on what we were doing and enjoyed our moment together.

  232. 435

    Heather says

    This made me cry. My son is 8 months old and I decided not to get a fancy smart phone for exactly this reason. Personally, I don’t trust myself not to over-use it. After he’s grown and out on his own, I will have all the time in the world to use a phone, if I want to. Thank you for what you’re doing. This is going to be one of the things that we all look back on either with relative contentment or serious regret.

  233. 436


    Thank you so very very much for this. I am going to be making changes I have been wanting to make for a while. As I have thought about this post, I have also realized that you could also do a part two to this and call it “How to Miss a Marriage”. I have had friends become utterly depressed and withdrawn with husbands addicted to online gaming. Ignoring family, home, wife, children. Well, gosh, I guess you could even go further and say “How to Miss a LIFE”. And I am not at all without blame. I have deep sorrow for my own failure to set priorities. Thank you again.

  234. 438

    April says

    Thank you, thank you for writing this. Such a great wake up call. I have a phone, computer, and Kindle that I use a lot. I confess I’m not always present. I hardly ever talk on the phone, but I use it for email, FB, etc. My husband and I just read this together and are determined to make changes. I hope this goes viral on FB!

  235. 439


    Rachel I commented above already, but i wanted to add a couple more words of thanks and encouragement for this fantastic post.
    Firstly this post has made it here to New Zealand and is doing the rounds of NZ blogs and Facebookers… getting a big response.
    Secondly, I wrote this post today, in response to what you wrote here and thought you might like to see how your words have touched me… and now my readers.
    God bless
    from Simone in Auckland, New Zealand

    • 440


      Your post is absolutely beautiful and inspiring! I am moved by your honesty and your commitment to be present with your children! What a gift you have given me today! Thank you for sharing this with me!

  236. 441


    Thank you! Thank you so much for writing this blog! You point out some of the bad things I do everyday! We are trying to get our health and wellness business off the ground so that when my husband retires (from the army in about 3-4 yrs) we can have lots of time to spend with our 3 kids. There has been many times I thought, is this worth it because I am on the computer so much and not spending the time that our 3yr old wants! Every morning I get up, get my coffee, sit down with my son and my iPhone. We snuggle and I check my FB, email, and texts. All the time thinking, Oh he knows I love snuggling with him. I am only half there! You really hit the nail on the head… you really did! Thank you for your writing and wake-up! America is so addicted to the internet, texting and email, that we forget how precious our little one are!

  237. 442

    mummy of 3 says

    This broke my heart. I actually got rid of my mobile for close to 3years as I thought it was too much of a distraction. I also hear what my step son says to me about his mummy who does this all the time. And it breaks my heart to hear him complain that he wants more of a mummy. You couldnt of hit the nail on the head more if you tried

  238. 443


    I found your blog through Pinterest and have only managed this one post so far! Technology really does steal time from living in the present. And children are time thieves themselves. I’m always amazed at people who record what their children are doing rather than watching it live…yes, having a video clip of your child’s first nativity is great but not if you don’t ever watch it again and don’t give your child encouragement at the time. I work with children and use technology to record my observations – a series of photos showing a baby crawl towards a ball for the first time speaks more than a written note. But I’ve seen the impact that a lack of parent investment has on a child. Hearing parents admit to using an iPad to read bedtime stories makes me sad. Where’s the joy and closeness in that? I’m guilty of using my phone to record weekly photos of both my children’s changing faces in their first year …all put together for their first birthday presents. I think my children see my phone first as a camera and then a method of talking to family and a set of small squares that lead to child centred apps. Technology has a place but the balance is so wrong for too many people. I hope more people realise that children need fun, creative, focused parents with their child’s interests central to their life. If you’ve had children you’re never going to be the person you were before and whether you like it or not, your job is to develop happy, confident and secure children. Put the phone down, turn off the telly, unsubscribe from pointless emails you spend time deleting and watch your child at play. They’re more entertaining, engaging and interesting than anything else!

  239. 444

    ruth berkemeier says

    this is not only true for our children but is also true in our own one on one relationships with our spouses and others around us. i experience this everyday when my husband sits at the computer and it is more important than what i have to say. have we really forgotten about each other and made the electronic devies more important than our kids or our loved one? what have we become?

  240. 446

    Pete says

    At the time I am posting this, there are over 180 posts already, so I didn’t have time to read them all. My wife shared this article with me via Facebook. Upon reading this first several comments, I notice that basically an argument occured: whether or not you should completely unplugged and devote every second to your child, or whether it’s ok to do things with them without putting in all the effort or attnetion. I see good points to both sides. I think a good word to apply is balance. While it is true that our kids needs us more than anything else, we do need time to focus on ourselves and our own wellbeing. I think the issue is when to take that time. Is it really a good thing to show our child that we are so not interested in what they are doing, that we bring our own activity? What if we just take time for ourselves when they don’t have a special function. Those times are the times that make memories. Becoming a father while in the military has opened my eyes. There are so many things that we take for granted. Our children’s interests shouldn’t be one of them, even if we don’t share them. I missed almost the entire first year of mu daughter’s life. There are so many “little” things that I missed. Our kids are not the only ones who suffer from the electronic age. All of those we love and care about will get the short end of the stick IF we go overboard with our time spent for ourselves.

  241. 447

    Chrissy says

    This can apply to grandmothers as well!! My mother comes to visit us once or twice a year from out of state and sadly spends any free time on her iPad instead. We could be on the couch chatting or she could be snuggling with my kids or read them a book. Instead of staying up late with us to watch a movie or chat when the kids go to bed, she’ll retreat to her guest room and call her boyfriend back home.

    It’s not like she’s considerate anyway (she’ll never thank you for a gift and sometimes not acknowledge receiving it at all) but being in another world when visiting only began within the last couple of times since she had no electronic devices before then.

    I guess all of those forwarded emails of kittens and chatting with people she sees daily anyway are more important than what’s going on with her daughter or grandkids. It’s hurtful since we get less than one week total with her all year at the most. A warning to all!

  242. 448


    This post really, really resonated with me. I read it a week or so ago and I saw myself reflected in so much of what you said. How many moments have I spent engaging more with my cell phone than my own sweet daughter? What message is that sending her? I made a big change in my life after reading this and I really can’t thank you enough.

    I wrote a response to this article on my blog with a link back of course

  243. 449


    What an eye-opening post!!! I am so very conscious of this with my phone and when we have “family” time. I am going to have to work on the time during the day as I do find myself busy at the computer more than I should, probably. Thanks for the reminder!!

  244. 450


    Wonderful post, thanks for sharing! I’m so glad I don’t have a cell phone! Even though it is for health reasons, every day I find more reasons I’m glad I don’t have one. As is, it’s a struggle to get away from the computer since I work online, a smart phone would make it even harder to focus on my kids. 🙂

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