Inside: Many moms develop this habit during nursing they later find hard to break. Here are some proven strategies to help you beat this habit.
My firstborn made me think things were so easy.
She was a fast nurser. I know this because I wrote down her exact feed times.
For one whole month.
She would feed no more than 12 minutes then purse her lips together and refuse any more. At the hospital the midwives looked at each other and said, “Look at that, what a strong suck!”
I was so enamored with her, and she fed so fast, that feeding sessions were over before I’d barely settled in. I thought this is how babies fed. I assumed they were all efficient. Feed fast then move on with baby life.
4 kids later… I was wrong. I’ve had the barracuda feeders, the gourmet samplers, and one or two of the other fun terms they have these days. For babies who take a long time to feed.
With two of my babies, for the first few months, each feed took at least 25 minutes, sometimes 40 minutes. I am not exaggerating.
So multiple times a day I could be found sitting nursing a baby. I couldn’t get up to use the bathroom or tend to anyone else. I nursed when they napped or played independently to try and minimize any sibling jealousy. That seemed to work out fine.
But what did not work out fine, was the bad habit I started during these long nursing sessions.
I wonder if that’s how soap opera additions started back in the day. Were housewives sitting under nursing babies for 30 minute intervals all day… and they just switched on the TV? Well, that isn’t our generation’s struggle. We don’t watch endless hours of soap operas.
Today… we scroll.
It’s normal. We all do it. Our phones don’t just receive calls anymore. While we’re stuck under a baby we can pay bills, answer emails, post photos, and shop for groceries. It’s just what we do.
We don’t use our smartphones while nursing because we don’t want to bond with the baby or our other children. We use them because they’re there. Available. Promising a momentary high in an otherwise mundane day.
The trouble with scrolling while nursing…
Using my smartphone while nursing my youngest wasn’t a big deal… until it was.
I noticed how bad my habit had gotten when my baby turned 6 months. That is the age babies become distracted feeders. They start squirming, drinking, then looking around, then drinking, then trying to sit up, then drinking. And on and on. There is simply no room for a cell phone because by the time you get halfway through your brilliant Facebook comment, baby moves and you drop the phone.
Then you get annoyed with baby.
It’s ridiculous really, this reliance on our smart phone.
This was when I knew I had a problem. Not because I was trying to make myself feel guilty, but because I genuinely did not like what my habit had become.
Smartphones are addicting.
And it doesn’t stop when babies stop nursing. It keeps on. Except we then have to find time that’s no longer there to scroll. A year or two passes and we don’t have a nursing baby, but we’re still reaching for our phones for 30 minutes at a time multiple times a day.
There’s no two ways about it. Our brains have become trained to listen for the dings and vibrations and the momentary surges in feel good hormones that are released when we receive a message, a comment, or some other online communication.
Not to mention nighttime…
And it gets particularly hard for us when we use our phones to scroll for night feedings. Why? Because long after baby has fed and gone back to sleep we’re up scrolling. Or trying to go to sleep but having a hard time as a result of our brains being “on.”
The blue light screens emit keeps you from producing melatonin and keeps your brain alert. So while you could be lying down feeding baby then going immediately back to sleep after putting baby down, your brain is left “on.”
This is a nasty cycle.
Because the next day we’re exhausted then grab our smartphones to zone out. In fact, some researchers have referred to smartphones as “adult pacifiers.” When we’re cranky, moody, or need to escape… we scroll.
Without realizing it, we’re trading this special time with our babies to catch up on other people’s political opinions or vacation photos. We all know social media isn’t as important to us as our babies, and yet… we struggle to focus on our own lives and instead read about the lives of others.
The real issue is this…
I didn’t stop scrolling while nursing because I felt guilty. Or because I thought I was a bad mother.
I stopped because I wanted my life back.
I’ve heard from many moms who say they are still addicted, months after they’ve stopped nursing.
We don’t want to reach for our phones every minute. We don’t want to constantly hear about the amazing things other people are doing then look over and see a poop stain, a screaming toddler, and a messy house. We don’t want to feel good about life when we’re looking at a screen. We want to feel good about the life in front us.
But how do we stop?
How to break our reliance on smart phones
It’s not easy to break our reliance on smart phones for entertainment. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it a million times over.
- Do a Full Detox | For my nearly 4 day detox, I kept my phone either off or on airplane mode. After that 4 days I had no desire to turn it back on and use it again. In fact, I felt so free I contemplated getting a dumb phone. Hasn’t happened yet, but it may one day.
- Use Airplane Mode | By putting your phone on airplane mode you won’t receive notifications, texts, or calls in real time. This gives you freedom from incessant dinging and ringing.
- Customize Notifications | Turning off your notifications is a tremendous step. Unlocking your phone to see 15 notifications for various apps draws you down the rabbit hole with little hope for a “quick check.” By turning off the notifications you are taking back control. You decide when to check an app, that app does not decide by sending you an irresistible “ding.”
- Use Apps That Block Usage | Install an app that will give you set times to scroll and, outside of those times, block you out. This is a great way to begin detoxing without having to exercise self-discipline every single moment. Here are some apps for that.
- Read A Book Instead | A habit I’ve adopted is keeping the phone out of reach and reading an actual book. Imagine that! Not on Kindle either, because that begs distraction. A good old fashioned book can be a more positive escape.
- Physically Remove Your Device | I purposefully use a white noise app on my phone for the baby to sleep. This means for the majority of the day my phone is in the baby’s room while he’s napping or, when he’s awake, it’s out of reach. This is the single most useful tip I can give. Keep the phone away from you and the compulsion to check it will lessen naturally over time without you needing to exert willpower over and over.
- Break the “Ludic Loop” By Using A Timer | According to researchers, the mental Ludic Loop is what happens when you do the same thing over and over and are lulled into a state of tranquility. This is why people get addicted to Candy Crush or slot machines. Or checking Facebook, Instagram, email, then doing it all over again. Set a timer for 5 minutes before you start scrolling then, when it goes off, set the phone down. You’ll get any urgent info without wasting time.
After I stopped scrolling while nursing, I noticed a few things that helped me break that habit for good. No more temptation to check Instagram or Facebook.
I noticed how much I enjoyed watching my little guy squirm around.
I noticed how chubby his thighs were.
I noticed how his hair sticks out on the back of his head like a tail feather.
How big he is getting.
Once I was able to stop scrolling long enough to get back in the habit of being with my baby, you couldn’t make me use my phone. The hard part was getting there… but once you’re there, it’s worth it.
The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. – Thoreau
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