Learning to Put My Phone Away When I'm With My Child

"Mamma, close. Close the phone." says my son "and keep it under pillow."
All of two years and my son knows exactly when I'm not giving him my 100 percent. Just five years ago, my phone was nothing but a means to communicate with my husband and friends. In a short span of time, its use has tripled to become a very important part of my world. As a writer, I constantly feel the need to work on something, send an email, write a blog article, message a friend. I'm sure you get my drift. 
Every morning when I wake up, I automatically reach for my phone and sometimes, I'm busy checking social media several times a day. A simple incident a couple months back made me rethink this routine and realise why exactly I need to put my phone away when I'm with my child. I was chatting with my husband one evening, telling him about a contest I had participated in. I was very animatedly describing what I was doing to win while my husband was busy scrolling through his phone, lost in some chat, or game or whatever. I was really mad! I gave him a piece of my mind and then refused to divulge anymore details because I felt ignored. The incident was forgotten and the days went by. A couple weeks later, as my son sat playing with his blocks, I suddenly had a brilliant idea for an article I wanted to write. I pulled out my phone without a thought and was quickly glued to the screen. I didn't even notice or hear my son as he tried to get my attention to appreciate his work of art. I looked up only when I heard the blocks smash to the ground and the sight of my very upset and angry son made me stop what I was doing immediately. I remembered how angry I was when I felt my husband had ignored me and here I was making the same mistake with my child without even thinking how upset he must have felt.
Ever since that day the phone has to be immediately put (away from sight actually) because my son refuses to let me use it when I'm with him. He knows its a device that makes mamma ignore him and he makes it a point to ask me to close it! Even if I try taking a video he stops me midway and shuts it immediately. Once, as I was writing a very important review he snatched the phone, pressed a couple of keys and that was the end of it. Such instances made me realise that I was teaching my son to model the wrong kind of behaviour. I also realised that using my phone in my son's presence could be harmful in terms of his safefy because phones have been known to distract, (just takes a second) causing harm and life-threatening accidents.
It's not easy to tune out especially when some of us quite literally need to use phones to conduct business deals, answer important emails, share important information. I have found the following to be helpful to curb my phone habit in front of my son so that he feels I am completely present with him.

1. Complete important phone duties when my son is asleep. By this, I mean answering emails, writing and all important duties that I absolutely need to complete with my phone. I'm not always successful but it has been a very important step in learning to curb my phone habit in front of my son. I have alerts for specific and important emails and messages so unless I know it's absolutely required, my phone is hidden from view and brought out only when my son is asleep. I have been caught a couple times and I sometimes feel like a thief but it always makes me go back and remind myself of my responsibilities.
2.Limit phone use when out. I do not have a data plan outside of home and although it might sound difficult, it's not impossible. Even if you have a data plan while on the go, try turning it off and only use it if it's absolutely necessary. Initially, I also felt quite unhappy that the number of pictures I had of my son and I just enjoying a moment were zero but giving him my complete attention wherever we are is a far more important lesson I want to teach my son.
3.Answering phone calls that cannot be missed. I imagine there will be many important calls and while you certainly don't want to go back and undo everything you're trying to teach, there are some occasions that you can take advantage of. I bought my son a toy phone that I quickly hand to him if I know it's an absolutely urgent call I need to answer. It's working so far and he doesn't ask me to close the phone or put it away.
The points above are just a beginners guide because the temptation to check just one message, Facebook comment, or answer one email will weigh you down like a ton of bricks. If it happens, don't beat yourself up but work on steps 1, 2 and 3 again. It will eventually get better but as my child is at a stage where he's learning to model behaviour, it's important for me to teach him to the right behaviour.

Someone quite rightly said: "Don't worry that children never listen to you, worry that they are always watching you." I find this true and worrying because as much as I'm trying to be the best parent, I certainly don't want my son to feel ignored and learn that it's okay to be busy with a phone while in the presence of others.
Moms, I hope you found this article helpful. Do share tips or suggestions on how you have limited your phone use in the presence of your child. 
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Picture courtesy Google Images.