11:34 am: text reads “hello”
4:31 pm: Missed call
7:01 pm: Missed call
8:37 pm: Missed call
9:37 pm: I pick up my voicemail FINALLY after getting the kids down for the night (one of whom has been a teething disaster all day and just busted his lip open, the other has challenged every sentence that’s come out of my mouth, and the house looks like someone threw a rave). I’m panicking because I’ve clearly missed three calls in a row and who misses that many calls? Me. I do. My phone was completely dead until noon and then the afternoon was filled with activities. My phone was thrown care-freely onto my bed at some point and I just didn’t pick it up all day…until 9:37.
There’s a voicemail: “Hey, just calling to say hi, weird that you didn’t answer usually you’re near your phone all the time.”
Shit. Here we are again. The “if you don’t answer your phone or text me back you must be dead or really, really mad at me” place that I’ve been in many times before.
Except for that one year a few years back when I went without a smartphone for an entire year. Yup.
An entire year. My phone kicked the bucket, and instead of rushing out and buying another one, I simply went without. I knew I wanted to switch providers and we were planning to move so—I just didn’t have a phone.
Eventually I got one again because I got lost driving in Northern Ontario with my dog, and had a panic because it was the dead of winter and I really had no idea where I’d made a wrong turn—and it was getting dark. But besides that specific event, I never really missed my phone. Of course that was before kids were born and helicopter parenting began (just kidding I only helicopter like 50% of the time), but still.
Unfortunately, my job is such that I’m “on” from when I wake up (6:30) until around 8 (when BC closes up shop for the day). However, I’ve been testing out some new smartphone rules for myself—because frankly, I don’t want to miss out on stuff. Like…life.
I know that I need my phone during those weekday hours. I get up on Monday mornings and the rush starts: I have dozens of emails, I take my kids to daycare, and I have my phone all day and evening with me. But I get screen fatigue. A lot. Google it, it’s a thing. Recently I’ve started setting the night shift function on the phone between 11 and 7am. I MIGHT pick up the phone during those hours, if I WANT to. But if you need me during those 8 hours, and I don’t answer, well, life. There are always exceptions but I need to be the master of my own time.
I don’t know about you, but there was a time not too long ago when you would be out on a date with your spouse, and you couldn’t text the babysitter every 15 to find out how the kids were. You had to be in the moment with your partner and ACTUALLY enjoy each other (I’m brutal for this, but making an effort these days to keep the phone in my purse). There was a time when this conversation between girlfriends didn’t happen: “Did you hear from so-and-so?” “Yes, why?” “Oh. That’s weird. I texted her yesterday I wonder why she didn’t respond to my text but got back to you.”
I need to get over it. You need to get over it. You know why people sometimes respond and sometimes don’t?
Why sometimes I actually decline calls now depending on where I am and what I’m doing?
And I swear on my life to everyone out there: it is definitely not personal. I usually get back to texts within 24 hours. Emails, same. Calls, same. But if I don’t? I need to stop being so crazy about it. We all do.
I see my daycare calling during the week: I’m picking up. My kids are #1. But on the weekend? Unless someone is in dire straits the weekend my time is mine, to put away the smartphone that didn’t used to be an appendage.