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How I set screen time boundaries

Mar 30, 2020

How_I_set_screen_time_boundaries_Flourish_Caroline_Potter_NTP

Last weekend I felt my anxiety building up. I just felt drained in every way and then it hit me. I have been on my phone a lot recently, like more than is actually necessary or ‘normal’ for me! Reaching for my phone is very often a reflex—it really is addicting, and science agrees!

I am a big believer that boundaries give us freedom!

I’ve been challenging myself to draw some big boundaries around my phone and have noticed that I am more confident, calm and productive. And, I’ve noticed a huge shift in my sweet daughter’s attitude when the phone is not constantly present! Seriously, I was in tears the other day with attitude issues and then I realized I wasn’t being present—multi tasking is just the worst!

But NO guilt—instead I’m choosing to learn and set better boundaries!

Before we go and bash technology and call it bad, can we take a moment to realize just how wonderful it is? My husband and I spend over 50% of our time apart, so let me just say that I am beyond grateful for phones and computers. Remington lights up when she hears her dada’s special ringtone and smiles so big when we get to chat on FaceTime. Technology makes my business possible—allowing me to connect and impact women all over the globe! 

Phones, social media and technology aren’t good or bad. They are a tool.

BUT…

Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing!

Pretty much a basic rule of life, right? Too much cake might give you a tummy ache, too much exercise might make you dehydrated or faint, too much alcohol will make you hungover…the list goes on. Anything can become an obsession, anything can become an idol.

Here’s how I set screen time boundaries

1. Set off-limits times

I just started putting my phone in the other room when I sleep, moving it away from my bedside table has not only helped me sleep but also makes me feel less anxious and stressed at night. Typically about 8 or 8:30pm when I get into bed, I put my phone on airplane mode, off wifi and on the charger for the night. Just try it, I promise you’ll notice a difference!

I also stay away from my phone when I first wake up, after Remington’s nap and during her bath and bedtime—I try to build in about an hour of margin time away from my phone during these times.

2. Take the weekend off social media

This has REALLY helped me! I was inspired by my friend Chelsie and her #takebacktheweekend campaign.  Sometimes I don’t fully follow this, but I do notice that I am much calmer and joyful when I do this! This helps me be fully present in the moment rather than wanting to ‘document’ everything! I usually take Sunday pretty much entirely off my phone too.

3. Put your phone in another room

This is a game changer! I put my phone out of sight and out of reach while I work. I will go grab it at various points throughout the day to check Instagram and such but only for a limited time. I’ve noticed I am so much more productive and confident and a whole lot less anxious when I do this!

4. Create a list of other ‘mindless’ activities 

We all need activities that takes our minds off of reality—having a ‘mindless’ activity isn’t a bad thing, it actually is a much needed break for your brain and body and can calm your stress hormone response aka your adrenal system. But often what happens is we pick up our phone, scroll mindlessly and zone out—I’ve been there many times. I started making a list of other activities I could do to take my mind off things and this has been so helpful for me.

  • Reading a blog post on my laptop or computer
  • Reading a book
  • Baking
  • Working out
  • Stretching
  • Taking a bath
  • Putting on a mask
  • Watching a show or movie
  • Just going to sleep (*wink*)
  • Coloring with my daughter

5. Choose a different, less addicting device

You are far less likely to scroll on your laptop or desktop computer.  Fact. *Most* things can be done on a big computer—that way you get in, do the work and are done! You can even respond to Instagram comments on your computer!! Social media on your phone is literally endless—it’s meant to be addicting, yikes!

6. Pay attention to the frequency

This comes into play with movies, in particular children’s movies. Have you ever watched an old black and white movie and noticed how much slower they are? Movies now a days are much more addictive because they have a higher frequency or pace. The entertainment industry knows that and wants to get you addicted. I have noticed a HUGE difference in my 2 year old’s behavior when I play Mr Rogers or Winnie the Pooh from the 60s versus a modern movie like Frozen. When Mr Rogers is on, she’ll pay attention for a bit then go and play with her toys—she never throws a fuss when I turn it off. But if the timer is up and Frozen is playing, there is an epic meltdown when I turn it off. Frequency is addicting, it’s crazy!

7. Make a grace-filled plan you can commit to

Don’t get down on yourself or feel guilty for needing to be on your phone! Instead choose grace over guilt and make a plan. How do you want to draw boundaries around your phone? Pay attention to how you feel and how your kids act when you have less or more phone time. This was a big wake up call to me and inspired me to draw boundaries.

8. Visualize moments without your phone

What could you accomplish if you set your phone aside for just an hour each day? How would you feel? How would your kids act? Paint a mental photo of yourself—is your phone in your hand or pocket all the time or would you rather picture yourself laughing, enjoying and being present?

9. Have a “phone spot”

This tip is from my amazing social media manager Megan. In their house they have a “phone spot.” That way if and when they need their phone, they grab it. When they are done, it goes back in the spot—that way your phone is not literally attached to you all day. I just love this!

<< For more inspo I love this podcast episode from Nancy Ray on Social Media Boundaries >>

I hope my boundaries inspire you to create your own plan! There is no right or wrong way, just what’s right for you!

Tell me your #1 way to set boundaries around your phone below! Can’t wait to read your comments! 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼

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Photos by kylie martin

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