How Real-Life Dads Limit Smartphone Usage (To Be Present)

I’ve been guilty of “too long” visits to the toilet with my phone to escape reality for a good 10 minutes.

I also used to have my phone on me at all times (yeah, the phantom vibrations syndrome is real!).

Talking about this in the past tense it may sound like I totally have this down today.

I don’t!

But I’ve made some progress and I’ve learned a lot from talking to other dads who have managed to change their phone habits.

I’d love to share these brilliant ideas with you and I’m pretty sure your future self will thank you later 😉

Here are some good ways to start prioritizing your kids and spouse over your smartphone.

Full Attention Means More Than We Think

At our house, we often refer to “UDA”.


Kids crave it.

It’s typically when they DON’T get it they get annoyed and start yelling, begging, or trying their very best to drive you nuts.


When we put away the phone and get responsive, they will (sometimes) calm down and be just a little more reasonable.

Just a little bit goes a long way here – I know you know what I mean 😂.

Disable Sound And Vibration For Anything But Calls

In my book, messages (across all platforms) should never be urgent.

If people want to get in touch with me right now, they need to call me (know my phone number).

So, I’ve disabled all notifications.

Yep – messages too!

Obviously, it has made it easier to let the phone stay out of range when my kid is around, but it just makes it much easier to:

  • avoid checking emails
  • avoid looking up things that come up during conversations (who needs to know the precise size of Orlando or exactly what year the wheel was invented anyway?)
  • etc.

Your ATTENTION is one of the most valuable gifts you can give your kid.

No one gets this naturally. we need to make a conscious decision to be present.

Did you know that teenagers scroll 3.1 miles (5 km) on average… PER WEEK?

I have a feeling dads are slowly catching up.

Not only does it steal your time (obviously), but it also makes it harder to focus when you get used to shifting focus every other second.

Also, we don’t need to capture all the funny and cute moments in our kid’s childhood on video!

Have A Phone Parking Space (Outside Your Pocket!)

It’s a LOT easier to let your phone stay out of sight if you don’t have it in your pocket at all times.

Bonus: This will also allow you to wear super-tight jeans like Ramones:

Ramones playing

(If you haven’t joined the trend with 90s jeans with absolutely no fit at all 😂.)

You’ll be surprised how many times per hour you’ll reach for your phone the first day you decide to do this!

Good places to put your phone can be:

  • In a kitchen drawer
  • Besides your shoes
  • In your jacket (then you never forget it on the way out)
  • etc.

The idea is to place it out of reach and out of sight.

If you (or your kiddo) see it regularly, it probably won’t stay there for very long.

Kids Do What They See Us Do

Lastly, remember kids don’t do what we say but what we do.


Ever wondered why kids love toys that are copies of adult stuff?

  • Toy power tools
  • Toy kitchens
  • Toy lawn mower
  • Toy phones
  • Etc.

They really just want to feel big and grown-up.

That’s also how they initially get interested in iPads, Computers, Phones, and computers.

When our son was 2-3 years old, we decided to put our phones away. He quickly showed more interest in his toys and actually didn’t ask for cartoons.

The same thing happened when we removed the TV from the living room.

Placing your sofas pointing toward the TV shows where the focus is.

Rearrange sofas to focus on conversations rather than watching tv

Little changes can go a long way.

Where we place screens (phones included!) shows where our focus is and what role we allow them to play.

If we want to help our kids put the iPad away, we need to show them how it’s done.

Ready To Take It To The Next Level?

Do A Social Media And News Detox!

When I did, it literally made my brain able to focus and think clearly again.

Around 18 months ago, I decided to cut way down on social media.

I also choose to out all news sites and (almost) all social media sites.

Today I don’t miss it one bit and I mostly enjoy good podcasts instead to stay updated on what I think is important (which I can do at night, during walks, etc.).

I share all about it in the link above, so I won’t bore you with the details here.

Thanks for reading!

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