Boston Baby Photos Blog » photos by Jessica McDaniel

A Mommy blog, just for a minute

Annie, my now 6 1/2 year old, when she was just two. Shot this with a real camera, not my iPhone :)

Forgive me while I hijack my usually totally photo-centered blog and use it for a personal post for a minute.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my iPhone use recently.  I’ve read a number of articles friends have posted on Facebook about how we all use our phones too much, that we’re taking our kids to the park, but we’re not really with them if we’re pushing the swing with the iPhone in hand, reading an article a friend recommended, finding a recipe for dinner, replying to client emails, texting a friend… and that our kids are suffering for it.

Unfortunately I know I’m at fault – I do all these things. It’s such an addiction, especially for those of us who work from home. It’s the new water cooler conversation from the old days when we worked in offices.  I’m hungry to connect with other adults, to just touch base a few (dozen) times a day with other people out there slogging through the parenting trenches with me.  But I know my kids notice it.

“Put down your PHONE, mom.”

So I suggested something timidly to Annie (my six and a half year old) the other day.  I kind of knew that I was signing my name in blood to the plan when it popped out of my mouth, but I took the risk and went for it.  “Do you think I should do something new this summer?  Do you think I should make a promise not to use my phone when I’m hanging out with you and your sister?”  I almost wanted to grab the words and stuff them back inside my mouth as they hung there, heavy with promise.  But her face LIT up.  She smiled a huge smile, and said, without hesitation,”Yes!”

So it’s out there.  And it’s been said, so it’s on the books.  And summer is looming.  Here’s my plan.

June 1st – August 31st:

-Deleting the Facebook app from my phone.

-Deleting the Twitter app from my phone.

-Turning off email on my phone.

And that’s the plan.  Hoping my clients will understand that I’ll take a bit longer to read and reply to emails over the summer.  Hoping Facebook can survive without me trolling the feed three or four times a day.  And hoping my kids can swing higher when I push with both hands.

Anybody wanna try something like this with me?  I could use all the help I can get…

Leslie - May 21, 2012 - 2:04 am

YES! I did this over April break for similar reasons (and the fact that I was without International service:) and my family was much happier for it. I’m with you! It may become a permanent policy….

Stacy - May 21, 2012 - 4:57 am

That’s huge, Jess! I don’t know if I’m ready to join you just yet on removing apps from my phone, but I’ve definitely noticed that my iPhone already “comes between” me and Gus…like when I’m breastfeeding him yet holding the phone up in front of my face to either enter the feeding info into my Baby Connect app, or reading emails, or the news, or whatever. I’m sure this interferes with the mother-infant bonding process so thanks for giving me additional encouragement to put the phone away more often. :)

SerahRose - May 21, 2012 - 9:15 am

Although I haven’t outright made the promise, when my kiddo and I have hangout time together….gardening, museums, parks, etc…I leave the phone behind, literally. I leave it in my car, or in the kitchen, somewhere I can’t hear it ring. But I know it’s there if I need to call 911.

I can’t delete the aps because of my work…but my time with my kid is my time with my kid. My friends, colleagues, and family can wait while I’m busy living. They’re gotten used to my lack of answering the phone :) They just call back later!

Brandy - May 21, 2012 - 9:51 am

Nicely done, Jess! Great idea to do it just for the summer too. Then you’ve got a defined period to see how it goes, and you can always decide to extend it or not in the fall :-) This is the best line: “And hoping my kids can swing higher when I push with both hands.”

Screen-Free Week - May 22, 2012 - 11:33 am

We posted this on our Screen-Free Week FB page and people are impressed!

Mary Beth - May 22, 2012 - 11:43 am

I love that I just came across this! I recently did the same in light of the recent articles! Although I am new to a “smart phone” and miss my old APP-less flip phone, I deleted all APP’S (maily FB) and email to really be WITH my kids. As a photographer that also works from home, I know my clients will understand if I do my “business” after hours when the kids are tucked in. Yay you and all the Mamas that follow your lead!

Paige - May 22, 2012 - 1:28 pm

I’ve thought about this a lot lately…our kids have limits on their screen time…why shoudn’t we?

Anna - May 22, 2012 - 6:18 pm

Great idea, however, in our case it will be a mutual ban on phone/computer/DS gaming during our vacation. Thinking of maybe switching over the SiM card we use in Europe to a regular phone without internet. Then we will all be happier together! But the twitter withdrawl symptoms will be rough at first…

marissa - May 22, 2012 - 6:20 pm

I saw your post link up on the Screeen Free week FB page. I will jump on board with you, in fact, starting today. I am continually plagued with guilt and disgusted that my kiddo often sees me with my nose up to my smartphone. I don’t want this to be his image of me, nor do I want to model this behavior as appropriate or healthy for my curious and impressionable toddler. Thanks for the inspiration, you have made a positive impact in this family. *with tears of gratefullness

Teri Rees-Momeyer - May 22, 2012 - 6:40 pm

Wow! My phone is a work issued phone so I am obligated to answer work emails, but the rest of it…I think I am going to do it. I know my daughter notices that I am not always present and if I want her to pay attention to me, then I need to pay better attention to her. Thanks for the challenge.

DawnV - May 22, 2012 - 9:07 pm

At the beginning of the year, I started a dedicated 30 min “no phone, no computer” concentrated one-on-one time each day with my daughter… it has been huge in our relationship. I love the idea of increasing that for the summer!

Hands Free Mama - May 22, 2012 - 9:16 pm

Jessica, I LOVE this!! Thank for both your honesty and your willingness to make a commitment to being more present with your kids. This is truly inspiring. I cannot wait to hear about all the wonderful moments that you grasp this summer while going “Hands Free”! Thank you so much for coming to “The Hands Free Revolution” and pointing me to your beautiful post!

Gayletrini - May 22, 2012 - 10:32 pm

great idea! I dont have facebook or email on my phone for that same reason… I just need to kick the twitter addiction. But I am in too deep LOL
Good luck. I know you would have lots of fun.

Kit - May 23, 2012 - 1:15 pm

I have a 6 month old at home, and have made it a point when I get home from work the phone goes down unless I absolutely need to communicate something to someone until after he goes to bed. Then if I want I can pick it up check text message, facebook, email, yada yada yada. But when I’m home with him my phone is put away. It’s the best decision I’ve made!! Even at 6 months I think he notices he has my full attention now instead of half of it.

[…] does Jessica McDaniel, a Boston-based photographer. But this past weekend, Ms. McDaniel proposed to her daughter that she might just … stop. I suggested something timidly to Annie (my 6-and-a-half year old) the other day. I kind of knew […]

[…] does Jessica McDaniel, a Boston-based photographer. But this past weekend, Ms. McDaniel proposed to her daughter that she might just … stop. I suggested something timidly to Annie (my 6-and-a-half year old) the other day. I kind of knew […]

Hank - May 25, 2012 - 3:19 pm

Jess – well done! I gave up the f-book last winter and haven’t looked back. Don’t know about cutting the cord completely but you’ve got me thinking about setting up some boundaries now…. maybe instituting a “NO PHONE ZONE” in the house?

again – congrats on being such a trend setter….

yer pal,


[…] does Jessica McDaniel, a Boston-based photographer. But this past weekend, Ms. McDaniel proposed to her daughter that she might just … stop. I suggested something timidly to Annie (my 6-and-a-half year old) the other day. I kind of knew […]

Eliza/betsy - May 27, 2012 - 7:38 am

This is fantastic, Jess. And congrats on the New York Times publicity! Hopefully you’ll start a movement that’s great for all the kids, working parents, and families out there…..:)

[…] Boston based photographer Jessica McDaniel recently blogged about spending too much time on her iPhone while she is with her daughters. […]

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