My Love-Hate Relationship with My iPhone

Photo by Robin van der Ploeg on Unsplash

After being less connected last week while on vacation with my family, I couldn’t help but think about my “attachment” to my phone. As a blogger/influencer, I always joke that my job is “the Internet.” I love my job – obviously, since I’ve devoted 10 years to this little “online journal” – but as someone who actively shares almost ALL parts of her life, I constantly feel the need to be connected, responsive, and available, and it’s obvious when it comes to my work versus my family.

Hold on, let me just reply to a comment real quick.

Let me just post this video to Instagram Stories.

Sorry, let me just snap a picture.

In the moment, it might seem like something small, but all of those “let me justs…” really add up, and I know my poor family (and friends) feel like they are being ignored. Of course, I feel terrible when I am choosing my businesses over my family, but I also fear losing readers, sales, and our family’s financial stability if I don’t reply to a message, comment, or inquiry immediately. And, to make matters worse, I know when I’m feeling anxious about these self-imposed demands, I often get frustrated and snippy with my family, which makes me feel even worse. I know it’s not their fault, and I know I need to get my act together and put my phone AWAY.

Ben Bergeron recently shared a screenshot of his iPhone usage in his Instagram feed. It showed how much of his time was spent on various apps and social media channels. It was really eye-opening for him, so I decided to check mine. I was at 2.2 hours on Instagram in the last 24 hours. Sure, it’s my job, but over 2 hours just seemed like SO MUCH time when there are so many other things happenings in my life. I also know a lot of that time was probably mindlessly scrolling and not doing anything super productive.

So, where does this leave me and my iPhone? Obviously, being “on” all the time as a blogger has it’s struggles, so I’ve slowly, but surely created some boundaries for myself and my family. It hasn’t been easy and some habits are harder to break than others, but I know it’s important for our happiness (and my mental sanity). Honestly, I still feel the need to be connected, but, with the help of my family, I’ve put some “rules” into place to help me break free of the cell phone madness. Again, I’m not perfect by any means, but I hope these ideas help you if you find yourself in a similar situation.

  1. When you have an unanswered message or “just” need to snap a photo, ask yourself: What REALLY matters? Will [insert thing] matter in 5 years? The majority of the time, I know my family/friends are most important. I want to be present with my family and not miss out on any of the important stuff, especially if I had my face buried in my phone.
  2. Declare certain times and places “no phone zones”: For us, meal time is a “no phone zone,” so we can eat without distraction and talk about our days. Quinn will even remind Mal and me of our “no phone zone” if either of us reach for our phones. We also start dinner with the question: “What was the best part of your day?” and then take turns sharing. It’s a great way to kick-off the conversation.
  3. Set an example. We set screen time restrictions for Quinn, so Mal and I do the same and try to set a good example for him. The last thing we want is Quinn seeing us glued to our phones all the time. We don’t want him to expect that type of interaction as parents.
  4. Only take one phone – If just Mal and I are going somewhere together, like date night, we’ll often leave one phone in the car, so we’re not tempted to hop on social media or check email. We’d leave both of our phones in the car, but we want to make sure we’re still connected if our babysitter or daycare needs to contact us.
  5. Set a time to check-in. If you really need to be connected, set a specific time(s) to “check-in” with your phone/work/clients. For instance, I’ll often share on social media in the evening when engagement is at its highest, so when I’m home with my family, I’ll put away my phone until 8:00 pm (when Quinn is in bed) before I hop on my phone to do a few things.

Question of the Day

Are you addicted to your cell phone? How do you disconnect? 


  1. This is so great, Tina. We are all so connected to our phones and I know if I don’t share something on Facebook or Instagram, it’s like, did that really even happen? I love your action steps to being on your phone less. I want to implement something like this myself but also include watching TV. At the end of the night, my husband and I just want to sit on the couch and watch TV while we eat dinner. It’s not the best habit and I hope we can at least cut it back a little bit! Thanks for sharing!

  2. removing Facebook from my phone has been a game changer. I also do my best to avoid looking at instagram stories because they both are major time-suckers. i won’t be able to give up instagram scrolling or podcasts as easy but it’s a start.

  3. Great post Tina! I struggle with this too. I can’t stand to have a little red 1 by any of my apps, so I have to clear those all the time. Note I said “have to” – ack!

  4. A good trick that I learned when I was a manager at a company and was constantly bombarded by emails that needed attention now, it seemed, was to set an outgoing automatic message that said I check messages between a and B times and I will get back to them then. This way it sets the expectation that you won’t get back to them NOW. The time could be whatever you want i.e., 24 hours or 48 hour. I had an “ open” time from 10-12 where I responded to emails or employees could come to my desk with questions.

      1. Glad it’s helpful. It did help me manage expectations. I changed my open hours everyday based on what was happening that day. Not sure if that would be too troublesome for you but don’t feel you have to be “ locked “ into whatever time and stress if those hours don’t work for you that day.

        Love that you figured out “ why” you feel the need to be connected. Now you can figure out how to manage it. Great job!

  5. I have the same love/hate thing with my iPhone. It’s so true that setting an example is crucial. I have teenagers and they watch everything. It’s going way too fast and I don’t want to miss anything because I’m glued to my phone. Random side question, can I ask the brand of your white tee in the family vacation pics? It’s so hard to find the perfect white v-neck tee that isn’t too thin or too clingy. Thanks!

  6. I love this post so much. Thanks for sharing that screenshot. I had a similar realization when I took a look at my phone. Over an hour spent on instagram! So much wasted time!! It’s hard but I think I need to set a rule of only looking at social media for 30 minutes a day. Even that sounds crazy to waste hours of my life on social media but baby steps … : ) It’s great that you and Mal are making conscious steps to change your phone behavior around Quinn. I see so many parents when I’m out at restaurants etc who are on their phones and kids are tapping their arm or pulling their sleeve. Kids notice parents zoning out on their phone so it’s great that you guys are trying to combat that. I also see friends who aren’t present because they’re constantly taking pictures or video for Instagram stories. It’s so distracting and unpleasant. Hopefully more people will start being more present and not stuck to their phones all day!

  7. Totally addicted, but I agree, it’s important to find some way to take breaks, too. I love your suggestions of a “phone-free” zone/times and leaving one phone in the car. That’s a great suggestion!

  8. Good post and I didn’t realize I could check that in Settings (I knew there were apps, but didn’t know it was already available).

    Recently we went to our neighborhood restaurant/pub. We saw a family (2 parents, 2 school age kids) and everyone was on a screen. The kids each had tablets and headphones. It seemed like a double whammy to me…you are dinner with your family, a time when all the experts agree is great family time…and you don’t even have to serve or clean up (woohoo) so no distractions, yet you are all noses buried in your phones/tablets. And the kids weren’t preschoolers who might need some hep waiting.

    I do try not to judge because it could be a specific circumstance, but the image was SO striking.

    I joke that the next evolutionary step is humans with heads that hang down in front.

  9. I love this post! I think a lot of us struggle trying to disconnect from electronic devices…I try to stay off my phone once I go to bed because otherwise I have a problem of endlessly scrolling. I’m also a fan of leaving my phone at home/in the car when I’m with my husband – he always has his phone.

  10. Omg, this is horrifying. So far today, I’ve been on Instagram for 1.4 hours. I, too, have a brand to promote, but come ON. I need to be more aware of this for sure, particularly first thing in the morning and in the evenings when my time should be 100 percent dedicated to my little family (boyfriend + 2 pets). Eye-opening. I needed this. Everything else can wait. – Kaitlyn |

  11. One of the things I did to help keep me from feeling compelled to check, and respond to everything was to turn off the notifications on most apps. This included my email apps. While I was still working, I also deleted the Facebook App from my phone because it was the most stressful/time suck. Now that I’ve been laid off, and am no longer managing social media for an organization I put it back on my phone and it’s a lot less stressful. I still keep notifications off for almost everything, and it’s made me feel a lot less reactionary.

  12. I can totally relate to this and have been trying to keep my phone in another room or in a drawer during most of the day. It helps so much! Even if I hear it ding, if it’s not next to me, I forget about it soon after and don’t get interrupted and distracted. I also really like the Moments app that tracks usage and how much time I spend on my phone. It’s great and terrifying. 🙂

  13. As much as I hate to admit I love another electronic device I feel like having an Apple watch has really helped me put away my phone. I like knowing that I can leave my phone in another room, or in my bag, or anywhere and still have access to important calls and texts and emails. I always used to get nervous I’d miss a call from the kids school, or any other type of emergency. Then having the phone with me makes me succumb to the rabbit hole of Facebook and Instagram. Now i put the phone away and know that I still can be reached if needed.

  14. How do I see this screen on my iphone? My 13 year old is about to have her world rocked on her snapchat usage!

  15. One of the most helpful things I did to disconnect last year was delete the Facebook app from my phone (all the politics at the time were just getting annoying). Now my biggest time suck is Instagram. I made a rule for working hours, but I know I could cut back more. I’ve realized I find myself “bored” more often when I’m addicted to my phone. That kind of freaked me out, being so easily bored, so I know I need to make a change!

  16. I am most definitely addicted. So i try to set up no phone zones (like the kitchen table) and times (like play and bath time with the kids). We are not always successful though.

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