Technology for Moms: Simplified or Sidetracked

techonolgy and moms simplifying lifeI’m a Mom who loves her technology but only to a point. When I got my new iPhone 3GS years ago, it changed my life in a really positive way. I can use my time so much more efficiently and now smart technologies have become habitual and feel utterly necessary. As a busy Mom, how do you balance using technology to simplify your life without becoming slave to it?

My first iPhone was a dramatic upgrade from my prior phone, the kind that to text you had to hit 777 to get to the letter “s” then 33 to get to “e” and so on. Who could bother with that? Once I switched and texting was so simple, getting a babysitter was a synch! The teens would instantly reply and I’d know if I needed to move on down the list or if I was covered. Soon I had clients and friends texting me, and eventually I upgraded to an unlimited texting plan when my daughter got her phone.

Early on, in the days of my belabored texting options, I wasn’t sure about it, but a Mom with older children gave me a new angle on texting. She told me that her kids were more likely to check in with her and that it gave them a “cool” and subtle way to contact a parent if they felt uncomfortable in a situation or wanted to be picked up.  A teen can text Mom without anyone knowing, they just appear to be a normal, text-absorbed kid! I’ve seen that happening with our daughter, too, though we haven’t yet sunk to the level of being total embarrassments, it still helps for her to have that outlet. I even hear from her on her bus ride home just to say, “Hi.”

moms and technology simplify or sidetrackI had been really holding out on upgrading my old 3GS, I skipped the 4 altogether and now that I got my new iPhone 5 (yippee!) the difference to my life isn’t as dramatic as that initial technology switch, but I’m still in love with how my smart phone helps me to use my time productively. Really, Siri is like a personal assistant, it’s so easy to have her remind me of something or quickly find me an answer. I can even speak a text to her, long gone are the days of texting 444 555 666 888 33 999 666 88! (Translation: I love you!), I told Siri to text that message to my husband  while I ate my cereal, no key strokes.

Technology can help us Moms be more productive: it let’s me run my business while waiting at tennis lessons and last week I replied to 10 emails and deleted a bunch of junk mail in the time I sat at the bank drive through window. Time that I wouldn’t have to spend at my desk later. Just this morning at the bus stop, a friend recommended a contractor and on the spot sent the contact information, something neither of us then needed to remember later. Brilliant!

I do have to stay mindful, though, of putting the priority on the people around me and not the technology in my palm. If I find my self saying, “Hold on,” with my face in a screen, it’s time to pull away and move my eyes to the kiddo beside me.

Technology also works to help out those kiddos on the spot. It gives me answers when I need them (“Mom, what does a tape worm look like?”), directions to the birthday party, and apps for building 3rd grade math skills while we wait on an older child.

Technology is amazing for finding a better price on an item (Red Laser app), a coupon for 30% off while you’re in the store (Mobi Coupons) or discovering a recipe for dinner with the random yams and zucchini that need to be used (Whole Foods app). It gives me access to the book at my bedside while I sit at the park and let the kids run (though, is anyone else having trouble syncing books from their Kindle to an iPhone?)

The technologies meant to simplify our lives come with traps and downsides, too. My friend lost her entire contact list and recently, I accidentally texted a friend: “You didn’t do what I asked you to do. When you get home please clean up your bedroom. Thx. Live you!” She panicked at first then realized it must be for Ali. kids and mom on computerOops!

Technology also has the potential to sidetrack me from the important things right in front of me. I have to admit, I’m really into the game Scramble; my sister and I have a fun, spirited competition going. It’s a face-paced, mini brain workout game that I enjoy between responsibilities. The problem is, once I start a game, it’s timed and I shoo people away so I can finish without distractions (interruptions can really mess up my concentration and score). See how crazy I sound about this game? I’m aware of that and tell the child or husband who’s happened upon my Scrambling to wait (maximum 2 minutes) and then I put the phone down and give them my full attention. They still contend that I’m addicted.

It’s easy to get involved in some technology meant to streamline life and find instead it’s overtaken life. Have you ever sat down to just check emails and realized two hours later that you’ve helped everyone else get the answers they need from you but you haven’t yet started the work you have to do? Somehow this notion has just come to my consciousness and I’m now trying to first write or do the work on my list, then check emails. (The link above provides some great tips, too!)

The technology pull can be strong. It can be too easy connecting online while disconnecting with the family in your home. I go back to the line I’ve quoted before: Lou Holtz says to ask yourself, “W.I.N.: What’s Important Now?” The answer always lies in those sweet faces in front of me (even when they’re not acting sweet), they are what’s important.

What are some ways technology simplifies or sidetracks your life?

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4 Responses to Technology for Moms: Simplified or Sidetracked

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