I have had many a lively discussion about using my iPhone, or any Smartphone, when on a family day out with the kids. I am desperate not to become an "iPhone mum." I want my kids to remember me with a nose in a book and not my Smartphone...
Many parents I speak to will leave their phones at home. It's too much of a distraction, and ultimately not great for kids to constantly see their mum or dad playing with a Smartphone. It sends the wrong message about when it's appropriate to use the technology.
Spending too much of your time when you are with your kids looking at your phone, and generally ignoring them for the sake of a backlit screen is also not good parenting practice.
However, taking the iPhone with you on a day out isn't necessarily the wrong thing to do; you just need to manage it properly, aware that you can get sucked in and miss out on all the fun.
It's best to have some simple rules to stop you from turning into the kind of parent that their children always see staring at a screen, whether it's a PC or a Smartphone one:
1. Be disciplined
Don't be getting the phone out every five minutes to check whether you have a message, limit yourself to when your kids are safely occupied, or even better only do it once or twice during the day.
2. Be sneaky
Check it when you are out of sight of the kids; now that probably doesn't happen very often if you have very young kids, if at all. However, mine are a bit older, and these days I am allowed to go to the loo on my own. Sneakily checking Twitter and my email in there can mean I don't have to take the phone out at all when I am with them; a good trade off methinks.
3. Be quick
Learn the iPhone quick draw from your handbag; one silky smooth movement from the side pocket in there designed for the phone, into the hand, a few flicks of the wrist and its away again!
4. Be sensible
Don't be un-realistic. If you do have a good deal of work that needs doing as you are a working parent like me, then schedule some time to do it away from the kids. That way you won't need to be dipping in and out of that iPhone screen while you are with them, and you can really enjoy their company properly.
5. Be silent
Turn off your notifications, so you aren't tempted to check the phone whenever it demands your attention. Children demand a lot of our attention too. We have noisy bleeps constantly telling us our phone is worth looking out; from email, Facebook, Twitter, text messages, and God (well maybe not him). Make sure your kids demands are the loudest.
6. Be smart
Don't get drawn into giving your child the iPhone. If you're like me, you are probably out and about hoping to educate or release some of that pent up energy from within the little darlings. You don't want to then give your children a Smartphone and see them playing a game when they could be climbing up a tree
7. Be game-free
I know this is obvious, but don't even attempt to play games on the phone when you are out with the kids. They will want to join in, and that's probably not why you went out in the first place. It's also far too addictive and distracting, and you'll be "just playing once more" for the whole time you're out with them. Angry Birds can wait.
If you try these tips, you might not miss your kids growing up because you're a distracted iPhone mum. It's not easy, but I know it works.
What are your tips for making sure you don't get too distracted by your Smartphone on a day out with the kids...other than not taking it of course!