It seems to me like our bloggers Renee Septimus and Sarah Tuttle-Singer are ready to throw down for a huge brawl over cell phones. In one corner, Renee, a grandmother to many, arguing that you shouldn’t use cell phones when your child is around. In the other, Sarah, arguing that sometimes cell phones are essential points of connection to friends and family members who keep us sane.
I think they’re both right.
When I think about using my cell phone around my daughter, I try to keep in mind Steven Covey’s matrix of how to prioritize at work (from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People). He has you ask yourself if the task is important and/or urgent. If it’s both, it goes to the top of the list. If it’s neither, it’s at the bottom. (That’s the very bare-bones version, but take your to-do list and mark a U or I, or both, next to each item–and see how much easier that list can feel!)
So if I’m getting a call from a friend during music class, I don’t answer it. If it’s a text while we’re reading books, it waits (not that long, admittedly, but it waits). But when I got a call during music class from the husband of my friend who had just gone into labor and whose daughter I was going to babysit that evening, I stepped out of music class to take the call. We needed to coordinate logistics at precisely that second. Important and Urgent.
Look, there have been plenty of studies and articles about the importance of talking to your baby, engaging your child, and not just zoning out at a screen. And I want to teach my daughter to really engage with the world around her. So I try not to answer the phone, I try not to check my email, and I try not to send texts. That’s my goal every day. But these days, the cell phone is sometimes my lifeline. And for an often harried, sometimes crazed mom, that makes it Important and Urgent. I think that’s okay.
So maybe I can broker a cell phone peace between Renee and Sarah. Ladies, are you in?