I Put the Phone Down For a Day to be In the Moment and Here’s What I Learned

A beautiful moment preserved for all eternity thanks to a smartphone camera

I’m addicted to my smartphone.

If you’re a parent and you’ve ever been on the Internet, you know how shameful a statement that is. Because if we’ve learned anything from other parents who write about parenting on the Internet for an audience that is largely mobile and reading these things on their phones, we know the combination of phones + kids is bad. Harmful, according to so many of these writers who know beyond a shadow of a doubt parents on phones are irreparably damaging their offspring.

On Sunday, I put our canoe on top of our minivan, loaded up the fishing gear, and decided to take my 3-year-old for a canoe ride down the Charles River. When we parked the car at the put-in point on the river, I had a panic attack as a horrific feeling of dread and anxiety washed over me.

I forgot my phone at home.

Truth be told, my first instinct was to jump back in the car and go get it. But I stopped for a second and calmed myself in order to contemplate something truly outrageous — spending the next few hours in nature with my son sans smartphone.

I thought of all the articles I’ve read telling me what a deadbeat I am for using my phone so much around my kids. I thought of how valuable it could be to be present in the moment and not witness life through a small screen. I also thought about the epic tantrum Sam would throw if I told him we had to go home and then come back and how much I hate detours, but I swear I thought about the value of the no phone thing too.

In the end, I decided to go it without technology. Just a dad and his son. Fishing and paddling and talking and connecting with one another and nature. Besides, who needs a camera when the mind’s eye is so wondrous, right?

Well fuck that shit, because the answer is me — I need a camera. And going without my phone was absolutely awful and I’m never doing it again!

I know you were expecting another one of those “I was addicted to technology but I went without it and I had some spiritual epiphany and now I’m a different man and a better father and I’m here to annoy you with my newfound anti-smartphone wokeness” bullshit, but that’s not happening. And here’s why.

First of all, the scenery was really beautiful along the river and capturing some shots would’ve been nice. Second, we saw deer, turtles, an otter, and a family of geese. It was really cool. Know what wasn’t cool? Sam asking me to take a picture each and every time wildlife appeared, and having a fresh new meltdown every time I reminded him I didn’t have my phone on me. It was nice being in the moment with multiple tantrums.

But the big reason I’ll forever kick myself for not going back for my phone is because Sam caught his first fish on this trip — and I missed it.

I’ve let him reel fish in after I’ve hooked them, but this was the first one he caught after casting with no help from me, setting the hook, reeling it in, and then landing it in the canoe. When he realized he had a fish on he FREAKED OUT with excitement and began reeling like a madman. He was shouting “I’VE GOT A FISH! DADA I’VE GOT A FISH! I’M A REAL FISHERMAN!” and his shrieks could be heard clear across Populatic Pond. He and the fish battled but eventually Sam got the better of him and plopped a smallmouth bass into the canoe. Once in the boat, Sam screamed “I CAUGHT A FISH ALL BY MYSELF!!!!!” with triumphant resonance. And as a proud papa, my smile widened as my eyes watered. And at that moment Sam turned to me, cocked his head to one side, and said something I’ll never forget.

“Dad, you got that on video right?”

Don’t get me wrong, it was as Kodak a moment as they get and I’m thrilled I was able to see it. But know what would’ve made it better? A video or picture I could look at any time I wanted. Something I could show relatives and friends. Something I could show him years from now when he’s unable to remember any of this. Hell, something I can refer to when I can’t remember any of this.

All of these parenting “gurus” tell you to live in the moment so I’ll be able to remember things clearly, but I work 50+ hours a week while raising three kids. My days start at 5:15 am and don’t end until the maelstrom of dinner and bedtime has concluded around 10 pm. Half the time I don’t even know what day it is, and I legit can’t remember my kids’ names. I called one of them the dog’s name yesterday. So having every photo and video I take automatically back up to Google Photos and be categorized online for perusal any time I want is HUGE for me.

An that’s the other thing. One of the arguments from these smartphone critics is “You’re taking a photo you’re never going to watch again so what’s the point?” Well maybe we’re a bunch of narcissists in this house, but we watch old videos and go through old pictures constantly. Once in awhile we’ll spend entire evenings going through YouTube videos from years ago and watching the kids grow up. And EVERY SINGLE TIME we say “Oh wow, I completely forgot about this. This is great.

I hate to break it to these professional parent-shamers, but it’s entirely possible to take pictures and videos of your kids and “be in the moment.” Using a smartphone to record kids and being present are not mutually exclusive things, and I’m not sure why it’s now socially acceptable to simply believe that’s the case. If you overdo it then sure, it can be a problem. That’s true for anything — especially dispensing judgey parenting advice on the Internet.

Lastly, when I got home, MJ was FURIOUS at me because if something had happened I would’ve had no way to call for help. So in addition to missing a milestone moment,  not being able to capture the cool animals, and disappointing my son, the absence of my phone got me chewed out by my wife to boot.

All I know is I’m going to wield my smartphone all the time and capture as much of my kid’s childhoods as humanly possible. And I’m not going to question that decision or feel guilty about it for one damn second. Because some day years from now, MJ and I will be sitting down getting happily misty-eyed at random videos we’ve taken over the years.

The beauty of this technology is that it’s allowed us to retain the random, wonderful moments that are too often lost through the holes in memory’s floorboards. It’s the virtual recycling bin that allows us to reuse the overflow of memories our minds are simply too full to comprehend for the long-term. Or, more simply put, it allows me to live in future moments as well as the original one.

I will hold on to the memory of Sam’s first fish for as long as my addled mind allows. But I sure do wish I had caught it on video.

It won’t happen again.

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Springing Into Allergy Season

Look at that face. Cute as hell? Absolutely. But the puffy face, filth, and perpetually runny nose? Welcome to springtime allergy season at the Daddy Files household.

I don’t remember this being a problem when I was a kid. I played outside all the time, delighted in baseball, and rolled around in freshly cut grass. But my kids? They are snot factories and the tap is always running (right down their faces). When the seasons change, my kids are more stuffed up than the teddy bears they use for snot rags and it lasts for MONTHS!

And as it turns out, I’m not alone. Did you know:

  • Allergies are the third most common chronic disease among kids 18 and younger
  • Allergies prompt 17 million doctor visits each year

The hardest part is nighttime when they lie down. As soon as they go horizontal, the coughing begins. And then the hacking. Followed by copious amounts of nose-blowing. We have to put boxes of tissues right next to their pillows so they can have access to them all through the night. Picking them up in the morning is a joy, let me tell you.

Antihistamines seem to help a little bit, but they never cure the sleeping issue. It’s actually gotten so bad we’re actually taking Sam to an ENT next month to see if there’s anything else going on in addition to allergies.

In the meantime, if you’re a parent of a kid with chronic allergies, here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re thinking about giving your children a dose of something, courtesy of KnowYourOTCs.org (who I’m working with on this sponsored post):

  • Some OTC oral allergy medicines are available in different dosage strengths. Read the Drug Facts label carefully for appropriate child dosing information and contact a healthcare provider as directed.
  • Some oral allergy medicines may cause excitability or nervousness, especially in children. If you have any questions, contact your child’s healthcare provider.
  • Never use any allergy medicine to sedate or make a child sleepy.

In the meantime, check out this great infographic and if your kids are anything like mine — good luck! You’re going to need it this allergy season.

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Video: 3 Steps for Safely Disposing of Over-The-Counter Medication

I’m gonna be totally honest with you — I never thought about expiration dates on  over-the-counter medication before. Also, I had a bunch of it in my medicine cabinet.

I’m not alone, either. Check out these stats:

  • 62% of adults have never sought information on how to properly dispose their expired over-the-counter (OTC) medicines
  • 50% of adults say they typically dispose of unwanted or expired OTC meds in the trash but only 8% mix them with undesirable substances before tossing

I hate cats and I loathe the taste of coffee, so kitty litter and coffee grinds have always been undesirable substances to me. But little did I know both would actually come in handy one day. That’s because they’re included in the three simple disposal steps:

  1. Mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds
  2. Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag
  3. Throw the container in your household trash

That’s it. Seriously. But if you want more information, you can check out more great tips here.

And although I generally try to keep my ugly mug off video, I’ve teamed up with some great Know Your OTCs bloggers who all combined to form one awesome video.

This is a sponsored post. I am collaborating with the CHPA (Consumer Health Products Association) Educational Foundation and knowyourOTCs.org. I was compensated for this post but as always, my opinions are my own.

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Kids Are Quick So Keep Your Medicine Out of Reach

Keep your meds high and out of reach!

If you’re a parent I don’t have to tell you how quick kids are.

It’s never when you need them to be fast like getting out of bed, getting dressed, putting their shoes on, or picking things up off the ground. Those times? Slow as molasses. But take your eyes off them for 1.4 seconds at the grocery store or stop holding hands at a traffic light for a millisecond and you’ll see EXACTLY how quick they are as you experience some of the scariest moments of your life.

We all those fears of our kids getting lost in a crowd or escaping from us near the street and toddling out into traffic, but there’s something many parents, myself included, haven’t given much thought to — how quick they can be getting into unsecured medicine cabinets.

Seeing that this week is National Poison Prevention Week (March 19-25), it’s a great time to drop some knowledge about kids getting into medicine that can be severely harmful. Tell me if these two data points shock you as much as they did me:

  • Approximately 60,000 kids go to the ER every year due to accidental medicine ingestion. Think about that number. It means four school buses full of children EVERY DAY go to the ER because they get into medicine they’re not supposed to.
  • According to SafeKids, “half of the 2 million calls to poison control centers in 2011 were for exposures and ingestions among kids 5 and under.” That’s a lot of little hands opening cabinets they shouldn’t be able to access.

While restricting access as much as possible is important, so is the messaging we give our kids about medicine. Namely, we need to have honest and frank conversations with them about what medicine is, and that only parents or a trusted caregiver should administer it to them. And NEVER tell them medicine is candy, no matter how difficult it is to get them to take it.

This is especially important to me right now because we’re moving to a new house, and that means packing. So while we’re generally careful with where our meds are stored (even putting a lock on the closet so the little ones can’t get in), it’s an issue we need to keep in mind now more than ever since everything is being put away and in transit. It’s also not just a problem we need to deal with at home, but also when we travel and when our kids go to other homes (like a visit with grandparents). A lapse could mean a life, so I’m going to ask you to do something.

Lock ’em up (the meds, not the kids)

Please take some time this week to double check that your medicines are stored safely up, away, and out of sight of the kids. I know it sounds like something that could never happen to you, but it can. It can happen to all of us — the best of us — and it’s entirely preventable if we just take a little time to be proactive.

Please check out Up & Away for more information and tips, and keep the Poison Control Centers’ phone number handy at home and lock it into your cell phone:  (800-222-1222).

This is a sponsored post. I am collaborating with the CHPA (Consumer Health Products Association) Educational Foundation and knowyourOTCs.org. I was compensated for this post but as always, my opinions are my own.

 

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An Admission: I Cheated on My Wife

Usually it’s fun sharing personal moments with you on these pages. However, when I started this website I promised honesty. A raw, unfiltered look at parenting and marriage. So because it would be more than a little hypocritical of me not to address when I’ve made a terrible mistake, I’m owning up here.

I cheated on my wife.

I know it sounds cliche, but I didn’t set out to cheat. It just kind of happened. Marriage and parenting is a tough journey and somewhere along the line MJ and I just got…disconnected. I’m not making excuses for what I did, but let me describe the situation and you can honestly tell me if you think it looks familiar.

I’m a guy who likes certain things and let’s just say, without being too descriptive, alone time with MJ is one of them. I need it to feel close with her and to keep me sane. And when I go long periods without it, I…well, I take matters into my own hands.

I don’t want to get the gender police after me but seriously, what’s a red-blooded American male supposed to do?? I can’t sit there with overwhelming wants and needs with a wife who goes to bed at 9 pm and live like that forever. It just doesn’t work and honestly, I think it’s a little selfish of her to expect that it would.

The part that’s my fault is vowing I’d always be faithful no matter what. It’s easy to agree to that in the beginning when everything is new and you’re both super into it and you’re literally binging with one another. But eventually seasons pass and one person inevitably loses that drive, while the other wants more. Needs more. What then? What do you do when you’ve promised to only do it with one person, but then that person won’t make time for you?

It started with MJ and I getting into something a little kinky and weird. We were introduced to these women who are kind of naughty yet sexy, and they don’t get a lot of male attention because, well, they’re in prison. But even though MJ no longer wanted to make it a priority, she asked me to wait for her because she didn’t want me partaking without her. I agreed, but how is that fair???

So one night after she went to bed early and I was still up, I went ahead without her. I knew it was wrong, but if I’m being honest that kind of added to the excitement. Once I thought I heard her coming downstairs so I paused what I was doing and froze. If she had found me she would’ve KILLED me, but it turned out to be nothing so I kept going.

And I couldn’t stop.

Soon I was cheating on her with everyone and my cravings were feral and all over the map. I cheated on her with a wealthy family that had fallen on hard times, a professional football player with a checkered past, and even an undead woman with an appetite for human flesh. I was a maniac and I couldn’t stop, yet I had to fake being entertained with MJ on the rare occasions she did find herself in the mood.

Eventually the lying became too much and she smelled the guilt on me. When she confronted me and asked if I’d been unfaithful, I didn’t bother denying it. I just begged for her forgiveness and pleaded with her to give me a second chance.

I’m not sure how it will all work out and I’m trying to be better. But the urge to give in and have everything I desire all at once is so powerful. And I know for a fact I’m not alone in my infidelity, as 46% of couples fall victim as well.

So how about it, folks? Do you Netflix cheat on your significant other??

I was compensated with a free year of Netflix and an iPad for writing this post, but all opinions are my own.

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