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I still remember the moment we decided to cancel our Sprint contracts and buy iPhones. It was one of those random moments when I mentioned to Josh that if he was willing to sell his massive CD collection, we could probably score enough cash to pay our termination fees of $400.

He leaped at the chance, boxed up his beloved CDs, and drove straight to Vintage Stock. Two hours later, he returned home victorious with a check for well over $800! His ridiculous music collection paid the termination fees AND bought our shiny new iPhone 3GS’s.

Fast-forward two-and-a-half years and I’m ashamed to say that I’m addicted to my iPhone. It is WAY cooler than I ever imagined. I do SO many things on my iPhone, including tracking my sleep patterns, tracking my weight, checking the weather, catching up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest—and not paying attention to my kids.

I know. It’s crazy, right? There are times that I get so caught up playing around on my phone that my kids have to shout my name four times before I hear them. And the craziest thing is, I know I’m not the only one. So, I decided it was high time to make a real change. I knew it had to be simple. So, here are my five simple steps to choosing your kids over your phone.

  1. Make a commitment to put the phone down and make it public. Tell your friends and family that you’ll no longer be available every minute of every day. Post it on Facebook that you’re going to play with your kids instead of your phone. People love to get on board for a cause. Tell your kids that you’re going to choose them instead of the phone. I guarantee they will help keep you accountable!
  2. Turn off notifications. Turn off the notifications for every app on your phone, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Paypal, and anything else that makes noise anytime someone sends you a virtual high-five.
  3. Quit thinking that you’ll just “check email really quick.” We all know that once you get on the phone, you’re probably going to check email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and then start reading a news story on NPR. If you must stay connected, schedule planned “connected times” when you have downtime from parenting.
  4. Set up custom ringtones and text tones. Every time my phone rings, I run through the house to see who’s calling. Once I set up custom tones for the people I care about most, it made a huge difference. I suddenly knew how important the call or text was based on the sound.
  5. Put the phone away somewhere out of sight. That old saying “out of sight, out of mind” really works. Our kids helped us transform a Kleenex box into Ned the iPhone Monster (tutorial below). Anytime we are hanging out with the kids, Ned “eats” our phones. This removes the temptation to pick up the phone for “just a minute.”

I’d love to hear how these tips worked for you! And if you have another idea that worked, please share!

Ned the iPhone Monster Tutorial:

Step 1: Empty a kleenex box

Step 2: Wrap the box with pretty paper

Step 3: Add teeth, eyes, a nose, and some hair

Step 4: Give your phone monster a name

Step 5: Feed the monster!

ned the iphone monster a how to tutorialplay with your kids instead of your phonened the iphone kleenex box monster
 * Photos by The Solars

Josh and Jenny Solar created The Happy Family Movement to encourage family togetherness and memorable family experiences through simple ideas for happy family living. To learn more about The Happy Family Movement, visit their WEBSITE or on FACEBOOK or TWITTER.