I’ll start by saying, this is all my fault. My toddler is obsessed with cell phones, and yes, it’s completely my fault. Because guess what? As much as I hate to admit it, I’m also a bit obsessed with my phone.
When my daughter was born, I was on my phone all the time. The sleepy newborn days, though hectic, can also be slow and lonely. My phone kept me connected to the outside world as I rocked the hours away in our glider. I vowed by the time my daughter was aware of what was going on I’d kick my phone habit.
And then the pandemic hit. Once again, I found myself glued to my phone to feel connected. Most of my scrolling and searching was mindless. In addition to the unnecessary amount of time spent on Instagram, I also wanted my phone nearby should my daughter do something particularly adorable (judging by my camera reel, this happens about every 60 seconds).
At 19 months, my daughter is now constantly trying to look at and play with my phone. This drives me crazy, and it’s in part because I’m embarrassed I’ve been using my phone so much in front of her.
If you’re experiencing a similar situation with your toddler and your phone, here are three incredibly simple things you can do about it.
Keep your phone in a different room
This is my #1 tip for cutting down on phone time for both you and your toddler. While it’s nice to have your phone nearby for emergencies or for photo ops, it’s also likely you reach for it and scroll Instagram, check emails, and respond to texts far more frequently than you need to throughout the day. By placing it just one room away, you’ll still be able to run for it if absolutely needed, but you and your child won’t be tempted to look at it otherwise.
Put your phone on a high shelf
Out of sight, out of mind still works here. With your phone out of immediate reach, it’s still accessible to grab quickly to snap a picture, but your toddler likely won’t spot it. Plus, you’ll be slightly less likely to mindlessly grab for it if it takes a little effort to get it.
Set specific phone times
If your child is at an age where you’re OK with them watching a few videos on your phone, stick to a schedule of when this will happen. Toddlers often do best with set routines, knowing when certain things are going to happen.
If you allow 10 minutes of videos at 2 p.m. every day, they may come to know and expect that schedule. Hopefully, this will lead to less whining for your phone at other times of the day. Plus, aside from that 2 p.m. appointment, you can make sure your phone is out of reach the rest of the day.
In my situation, breaking up my current dependent relationship with my phone is the key to making my toddler less obsessed with it as well. It’s not easy to change these habits, but once you get into a routine (and a better relationship) with your phone, it gets easier to stick to it over time. And hopefully, that same relationship will be passed down to your little one as well.