Crafting a happy home, family and life through simple living.

Digital Minimalism and Parenthood

When I moved into my dorm freshman year, in a new town 3 hours from home, my dad bought me a map of the city- a real fold out map. The year was 2007 (the year of the first iPhone release). We lived in a world where printed mapquest directions helped us reach our destination and where dads bought fold out maps for their daughters.

Today, my phone reads step by step directions as I drive. I don’t even need to know the address, just the name of my destination. My maps app calculates the drive time and expected arrival with notifications of any wrecks/patrol cars reported by users. Google will even tell me how crowded my favorite restaurant/store is in real time.

The Gray Area

Technology has made parts of our lives much simpler (ex: driving directions). We are always connected to the world and our family and friends, but nothing is black and white. With instant access comes distractions. Social media easily drains our time, holds our attention, and in some moments, the new notification can feel more important than the person sitting in front of us. A moment with our child can easily be interupted by a new Facebook notification.

“By any app to run free with notifications and distract me from being fully present in my daily life, I gave up ownership of my attention. I allowed it to rob the people around me of the full attention they deserved. It still amazes me to think I allowed such a small thing to have so much power over me back then.”-Anthony Ongaro

An Intentional Online Life

At 14 months old, my daughter already knows if she holds down the home button, Siri will start talking, and if she pushes it twice a keypad shows with numbers that light up when you touch them. She knows how to work an iPhone better than my 87-year-old grandfather.

The older millennials (those born in the 1980’s like me) are the last generation that can recall the frustration of calling the movie theater for movie times, only having to hang up and call again because someone in the room started talking. Today, we can open an app to see showtimes for every theater within a 15-mile radius and purchase tickets online.

I remember connecting to the internet for the first time ever.  (If you want a walk down memory lane, here is a youtube sound clip of connecting to the internet via dial-up:

My daughter will never connect to the internet for the “first time”. She always has been and always will be “connected” to the internet- to the world.

Digital Minimalism and Parenting

As a parent, there are lots of things I will need to teach my daughter that my parents taught me- how to make her bed, the dangers of drinking and driving, how to order at a restaurant. However, as a millennial parent, a new responsibility is teaching her how to have an intentional online life.

And that lesson begins with me setting the example.

Digital Minimalism and Children

One of my biggest fears is my daughter thinking back to childhood and picturing me with a phone in my hand. I want to be present for her childhood. How to Miss a Childhood is a great read to bring awareness to our online life as a parent.

Start your journey today for more purposeful time with your child and to teach by example how to have an intentional online life..

Here are three steps towards digital minimalism. Don’t miss another moment with your children because your phone is fighting for your attention. Teach by example how to have an intentional online life.

1. Turn Off App Notifications

There is no reason you need to know the moment someone likes a Facebook post. A comment on an Instagram photo from a friend can wait. A Candy Crush notification should not distract you from brunch with a friend. An app should not have ownership of your attention. First, turn off all app notifications.

2. Use Do Not Disturb Mode

Set a “do not disturb” schedule on your phone. My schedule starts at 8:00 PM when my daughter goes to bed. The husband and I try to spend an hour with each other distraction-free (we may just watch Netflix, but we are both there together and focused on the show instead of our phone screens).

My schedule ends at 7:00 AM. I wake up at 6:00 AM to get ready for the day and have some “me” time before my daughter wakes up, so this gives me one hour to be intentional with my time before “life with a toddler” begins.

If you are worried about emergencies, you can allow repeated calls in the settings. When someone calls a second time, this feature will override “do not disturb”.

3. Be Intentional With Your Online Time

Now that your notifications are off, decide when you will check social media and when you will not. This is a personal decision, depending on how you use social media. The only rule is that it should not distract you during your most productive times and when you are in a social gathering (whether that be dinner with family, drinks with friends, or at the park with your child).

Be present in the moment. Set a time and the number of minutes you will scroll social media. If you find yourself scrolling through Instagram on impulse, remove the app for a few days. Rewire your mind so that you only open Instagram intentionally.


What is your biggest digital distraction in parenting and how do you control it?


45 thoughts on “Digital Minimalism and Parenthood”

  • Wow. What a great reminder to put the dang phone down!
    I went off Facebook for two years when I realised I had become a slave to it. I was getting agitated at my children for wanting me while I was busy looking at other people’s children on my Facebook feed. How ridiculous! That’s when I decided to deactivate completely and it was really eye opening just how much time I had been wasting. It took a few days for me to automatically stop reaching for my phone. But it was the best decision at the time because I was suddenly more present with my kids. And when I took photos of them it was because I wanted to remember the moment, not just so I could plaster them all over my Facebook.
    I think your tips are great! Very practical.
    Ps. I’d totally forgotten about having to call up to listen to movie times!! Haha! Oh how life has changed!

    • Love that story! I’ve uninstalled the apps before and I found myself picking up my phone mindlessly. It’s crazy how addictive our phones are!

  • this is something Ive been thinking about alot lately. since I am a blogger, and connect with clients for my other job through fb and online, there are times when I need to be on my phone. But when I am having intentional time with a child, i put it away. Sometimes that means saying “Mommy will be done in a few minutes” and they have to wait. I try not to be looking at my phone when I’m giving them my attention.

  • These are some great tips! I turned off my notifications months ago and it was helped so much. I did not know anything about the Do No Disturb feature, but I will definitely look into. One of my biggest distractions with parenting and technology has been finding the balance between disconnected and connecting, especially with blogging. But setting a schedule and the do not disturb feature may help with that. Thanks!

    • Oh yes, mine is 14 months old and we definitely use the phone to control the situation sometimes in public. Our go-to is cat memes! haha Technology is an integral part of our lives now- the good (cat memes) and the bad (distraction from “real life”)

  • My boys are completely addicted to electronics of any kind. I’m just as bad, though. I really think I’m about to implement a “no electronics” day once a week, excluding tv, because we do enjoy watching movies together as a family!

    • I’ve heard of others doing this! I think its a great idea! I am for sure addicted to my phone- the reason I have to keep a schedule.

  • Davi,
    Some great suggestions for being more intentional with our digital time and for teaching our children through example. You’ve got a powerful perspective when it comes to being purposeful in the way that you raise your daughter and in your perspective as a millennial! Kudos!

  • This is a great reminder. I don’t want my kids to think back to me being on my phone either. I like the idea of turning off notification, lest distracting.

  • Yes to all of this! I think most of us are at the point where digital time needs to be monitored- we are being watched and mimicked! My daughter will sit on her play laptop and say she is” blogging!” While that is cute it also shows how much she notices – and what mama is spending a lot of time doing! I’ve always wanted to try a Facebook pause – but like you suggested, I put the phone away and carve out a chunk of time to spend with the kids and it makes a difference! Husband time too, we both set our phones down and don’t look at them when we want quality time! Xo

  • As a blogger I am finding it really hard to disconnect from social media and my blog so I am needing to prioritise my time better so that I can schedule posts. I hate that my kids see me with a phone in front of my face half the day. I don’t want them to think that is “normal”. Great post, I am sharing this one!

    • Yes, I have the same struggle with blogging/parenting. Using a schedule for both online time and a block of time to write has helped so much with balancing my time!

  • I love this post Davi! Technology is part of our lives but we should definitely be in control of how we use it and not the other way around. I’ve been working on being more aware of how much time I actually spend on my computer and phone and I notice a real difference in my kids’ behavior when I’m not distracted. I like to close my laptop so it’s not as accessible to my whims or I will leave my phone in another room.

    • Yes, social media is a part of life now. I admire the people who can just delete their accounts, but that is not something I’m interested in doing. I like your idea of leaving the phone in a different room!

  • I so wish we didn’t live in a world where we have to stay connected 24/7. Don’t get me wrong, I love my phone just like the next and I’m guilty of scrolling through Instagram at all hours of the night but I hate that I can’t have a normal conversation with people without cell phones involved. I hate that I feel like I’m going through withdraw if I don’t have my phone. I hate that I have an online addiction and feel awkward in social settings.

  • I already do most of these things. I see how fast my 2 year old is learning, and while I know he will be more technically inclined than me, does he need to be so right now? Life is just too short! I shared this on my personal facebook page for some “friends” 😉

    • Thanks for sharing! I agree! I know that my daughter will be more technically knowledgeable than me (probably sooner than later). Its amazing how much she has already picked up! I just hope I can teach her that the people in front of her are more important than a notification!

  • Just a few years back, I learned to turn off all notifications. It started with getting news notifications that were upsetting to me. I had listenined to a podcast about filtering what I allowed in my mind and the negative impact it had. Today my online time is intentional and not prompted by a notification. My news is what I choose to read. No click bait, no notifications. In building a minimalistic life, you will find an intentional life as well. Clearing clutter and busyness in my mind by filtering what I allow in has become a lifestyle I work on daily at age 52.

  • I think it is definitely a hard balance to make with young children and technology. We don’t have children yet, but I do think that having a designated time that you can use technology everyday keeps it from controlling your life while showing your children that you have healthy boundaries for hobbies.

    • Yes, these tips could be applied to anyone! I think my daughter makes me even more aware of my time online because she is always watching me, but its just as important to apply these concepts to significant others, family, friends, everyone!

  • I didn’t occur to me until recently that I was spending entirely too much time on my phone while in my daughter’s presence. She’d started to put her hand over the screen, or slap the phone out of my hands.
    Initially, I thought she was just being a mischievous tot. Then it occurred to me that my child is craving my attention, and she was doing the only things she could think of to get it.
    It broke my heart. All she wanted was her mama’s attention, and I was too focused on Facebook to notice.
    I used to say I was carrying my phone everywhere in case of an emergency. Now I’m willing to acknowledge that checking statuses, scrolling through Instagram — it’s become an addiction.
    Today, I turned the Do Not Disturb function on when she woke up, and I have it set to turn on every day at her normal wakeup time.
    Her childhood will only last so long, and I refuse to miss any more minutes of it.
    (Sorry this was so long. This post just really struck a chord with me!)

    • Yes, its definitely an addiction to me. I removed the apps from my phone for a while and found myself opening up my phone and going through the motions of opening the apps (that were no longer on my phone). Your advice for do not disturb during the day is great and something I had not thought of. Thanks for sharing!

  • Great tips for everyone. I try to limit my daughter’s screen time – she’s pretty good about it but it’s great to see how easily she gets sucked into it!

  • These are great tips! I am trying hard to have “screen-free” hours with my kids during the summer, which is hard as a blogger. So much of our networking is done online. One thing that is working for me is to put my hands in my lap (or put my phone down) when they come up to ask me a question or tell me a story. Eye contact makes a big difference!

  • Great ideas! We need to find the balance with technology because it’s not going away. My friend, Amy just wrote a book about this topic called The Future of Happiness. I think you’d like it.

  • Oh wow- this post came at such a good time for me. I’ve been feeling that I spend way too much time on my phone. I like the idea of being more intentional with it! And setting a good example for my kids… goodness, I have some work to do!

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