Recently, someone close to me said I have pretty strict boundaries when it comes to being on my phone (especially when I am with my kids). And it got me thinking about how abnormal it is these days for people not to immediately respond to emails, texts, or social media notifications. I can't be the only one who feels a tiny jolt of anxiety every time my phone dings. I used to feel bad when I would forget to text someone back, but honestly, it's been freeing to set some real boundaries regarding my phone and my mental health.
Less Immediate Responses, More Peace of Mind
Not responding to every text or email right away is not just okay; it's necessary — especially for balancing work and family life. I've set a steadfast rule for myself to be fully present when I'm with my kids. No half-hearted nods while scrolling through emails or responding to texts. Unless there's a bona fide emergency, the messages can wait.
There's a growing body of evidence suggesting a strong correlation between constantly being on our phones and increased levels of stress and anxiety. Think about it; every time your phone pings you, it's a demand for your attention that pulls you away from whatever you're doing or whoever you're with. It's exhausting. By not feeling compelled to respond immediately, I permit myself to breathe, to live in the moment, and to focus on what truly matters.
Now, I know what you're thinking. "What if someone gets upset because I didn't text back right away?" Here's my take: clear communication is key. I make it known to my friends, family, and colleagues that unless it's urgent, I likely won't respond right away. And you know what? Most people get it. They respect my boundaries because they understand how important it is for me to be present in real life.
The Price We Pay
I have two amazing kiddos, ages 5 and 8. They're off conquering the world at school most of the day, which means our time together during the week is limited. Homework, dinner, baths — you know the drill. If I spend my scarce time with them glued to my phone, checking every work email or social media notification, I'll miss out big time. And it's not just about missing their latest Lego masterpiece or tumbling trick; it's about the message I'm sending them.
The thought of my kids feeling like they're second fiddle to my phone is a risk I’m unwilling to take. My concern goes beyond the fear of them feeling neglected; it’s also about what they will learn from me if it appears my phone is my top priority. Kids are like sponges, right? If they see me constantly on my phone, only half-listening to them, they'll start thinking that's the norm. And let's be honest, we all want our kids to be better than us.
Setting Boundaries: Good for Your Family, Good for You
When my workday ends and my kids are home from school, my phone takes a backseat until they're asleep and I have completed my nightly tasks to set me up for an easy morning. It usually sits in another room, and I do my best not to pick it up. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
And notifications? Off. Even text messages. If it's really important, you'll call me. If not, well, I'll get back to you when I get back to you. This isn't me being disrespectful; it is me prioritizing myself and my family.
By setting boundaries and being more mindful about your phone usage, especially during your personal time, you can take a big step toward achieving better mental health and overall well-being. So, next time you forget to text someone back, don't beat yourself up. Consider it a small victory in reclaiming your time and your mental space.
Have you set boundaries similar to mine? How has it affected your life and relationships? Share your stories in the comments!