Phone guilt - how to manage it and why we need to give ourselves a break

Mums feel guilty about a million things and one that comes close to the top of most people’s lists is being on their phone too much.

We’re bombarded with reports that screen time is bad for kids (although funnily enough, it was a good thing when it came to homeschooling) and most of us have put limits on the amount of time we spend on our devices. So, should we put limits on the amount of time we spend on our phones?

First things first, if you know that you want to limit your screen time and are wondering the best way to do it, there are phone settings that allow you to do just that. I’m an Apple girl (but I’m sure other makes have similar options) so I simply go to Settings and then Screen Time. From there I can set a Downtime for example between 8pm and 7am. This will mean only apps that I choose to allow and phone calls will be available. There is an override, but it definitely makes you stop and think. In addition, you can set daily App Limits on all categories or just social networking.

The thing is, when you consider everything you use your phone for, you start to realise they’re more like little computers than something to chat on. I use mine to adjust the heating, for internet banking, for notifications from the school, for emails, as a calendar, for grocery shopping and to check the weather forecast and that’s not a complete list.  

Of course, there are occasions when being on the phone could be considered bad for your kids; I came across a report pre-Covid that a couple of schools in other countries had banned parents from using their phones at the school gate. Unfortunately, I’m definitely guilty of this. Since Covid, we’re no longer allowed to wander over to other mums for a chat (which I used to love). I therefore used to take the opportunity to check my emails, however this meant that my 8 year old would sometimes appear in front of me and I’d missed the chance to wave and give him a big smile as he walked over. From now on, my phone’s definitely staying in my pocket.

I do often feel justified in being on my phone but it’s all about balance. You’ve probably seen (on Instagram ironically) some influencers say they’re having a ‘phone in the drawer day’ and this is a trend I’m going to follow. Even a few hours is good to give my kids some undivided attention. Although I have noticed that the more I want to spend time with them the less bothered they are…

One thing I’ve decided is that I don’t want my sons to think that electronic devices are the only way to enjoy down-time. We all know that kids are copy-cats and that the best way to teach them something is to do it yourself. On Sunday mornings while everyone else is lounging around downstairs I like to have a long, hot, soak in the bath and read a book. A few weeks ago, when my eldest was bored he announced that he was going to run himself a bath in the middle of the day. He was delighted to take his time-out and definitely felt better afterwards. If I’d have suggested it, he’d probably have looked at me like I had two heads, but I was pleased he took the initiative.

Now if there was an app on my phone that made me feel as good as I do post-bath, I might be interested!

Jennie Dennehy

Jennie Dennehy is Mama to two gorgeous boys and is a Writer and Blogger. Her life is full of laughs and Lego and she’s always longing for a hot, frothy coffee.

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