Focused Moms Challenge Week Two: Unplug

If this is your first visit to the Focused Moms Challenge, read our introduction post before getting started.

Welcome back!  We made it through our first week of the Focused Moms Challenge and now it’s time to go full speed ahead into Week Two.  In Week One we put up a few reminders to keep us from getting off task in our parenting and set up some obstacles for ourselves to make our distractions harder to access.  Now it’s time to put our hard work from last week into practice.

For Week Two, the Crosswalk Safety Tip that we’re going to tackle is “Cut Off Your Cell Phone and Head Phones While in Roadway.”  It seems obvious enough, but obvious doesn’t make something easy to do!  But it sure is important to the pedestrian who needs to be focused on the road and oncoming traffic (and not on texting or talking on their phone or listening to music on their iPod) before stepping out into the roadway!

Don’t worry, we’re not going to be cutting off our cell phones or disconnecting the internet.  But we are going to be a bit more intentional about when and where we use them.  Here’s how:

Step One.  To start this week, set up some zones in your home and your life where you will make every effort NOT to give in to your biggest distraction(s).  For me, I’m going to have a “Cell Phone Free Zone,” but you might choose your iPad or your laptop, your Kindle, or even the television.  For each of us, how we do this will be different, but the basic concept will be the same.

For my zone, I’m going to make an effort not to use my cell phone when my children are around me.  That will include the car, the house, anywhere.  If they are with me, then it’s a “Cell Phone Free Zone” for me.  I’m sure I won’t be perfect at it, but I’ll get the hang of it after some practice.  How am I going to remind myself of my zone?  Well, I’ve got my reminder pictures plastered everywhere for one.  Next, when I’m in the car the phone is going to stay in my purse with the ringer off.  And when I’m in the house, I’m going to have a little basket I can put my phone in so I’ll know where it is (and that won’t be in my back pocket!).  And finally, I will be sure that my kids help keep me on track (they’re good at that!).

I’m going to do the same thing for the computer.  If the kids are around, then I won’t be on the computer.  Whatever it is that I need to do on the computer can wait until they go to bed, when they are at school, or before they wake up.  It’s going to take an incredible amount of will power, but I’m going to go for it.  Sometimes I feel like the memories that my children are going to have of me are me being either on the phone or sitting on the laptop.  Those aren’t the memories I want for them (or us), so I’m going to give this my best effort for a week and hopefully develop some better habits that can stay with me for life.

So, if I’m not on my cell phone or laptop, what on earth am I going to be doing?  I mean honestly, my kids don’t want or need me interacting with them 24/7!  Well, I could probably take care of some housework.  Some of the projects could even involve the kids, so we’re still interacting and getting some things accomplished at the same time.  I could cook dinner, exercise, plant a garden, who knows.  I might even buy a magazine and read an article or two.  It’s a lot harder to get distracted in a magazine article than when reading things online or catching up on the latest novel on the Kindle!  But mostly, I’m going to try to be more present and interactive in my kids lives.

Step Two.  Even though we’re setting some limits on our distractions in Step One, it’s important that we also reward ourselves for our efforts.  Now I don’t mean we get to go out and buy a new wardrobe or anything, but a few simple rewards will help.  They work with our kids, right?

This is going to sound counterintuitive, but figure out some ways to reward yourself WITH your distraction if you want.  For example, set up a “Facebook Free Zone” from 4-8 p.m. everyday, but once the kids are in bed at 8, allow yourself to indulge for a while.  Because you will have taken care of most of your end of the day responsibilities during your “Facebook Free Zone” time, you’re going to have the time to check out status updates or play Farmville without worrying about needing to clean the kitchen sink!  Don’t forget it’s all about moderation though.  You don’t want to spend three hours on the computer late at night.  Then you’d be too tired to get the kids out of bed in the morning!

What if you don’t want to use your distraction as your reward?  Pick something else that you like to do and reward yourself with it!  Let’s say you love scrapbooking or sewing.  Set some time aside to indulge in your hobby.  Don’t let it become a new distraction for you, but in moderation it can be a reward for your efforts!

Step Three.  Review your calendar for the next day every night before you go to bed.  When you look at it, try to see when you have free time that you USED to spend mindlessly on your laptop/iPad/Kindle/cell phone/you fill in the blank!  Think of things you might do during that time the next day instead.  For example, go on a walk, go outside and color with chalk on the sidewalk, have a picnic.  Anything with your child!  Or, think about unloading the dishwasher, what you’ll have for dinner the next night, the loads of laundry waiting for you to do.  Your calendar can include things that you need to do too!

What a lot of our Focused Moms Found out in Week One was that they had a lot more free time on their hands when they weren’t wrapped up in their distractions all day!  We don’t need to fill every waking moment, but it is important for us to have some ideas of what we could do INSTEAD with this new found free time.  If we don’t think about that, then we run the risk of falling back into our old ways of wasting a few hours a day with our distraction of choice.

If you don’t have or use a calendar, you could just write a list every night of your general schedule for the next day.  But I like a calendar!  My family has been using the free Cozi family calendar system for years, and we love it.  It is online, but you can print it out also if you want to keep a paper copy with you (or on your refrigerator).  It’s a great way to manage a busy family!

Recap.  This is the easy part.  Unplug (a.k.a. Cut Off Your Cell Phone and Head Phones While in Roadway).

  1. Set up some distraction free zones
  2. Reward yourself
  3. Check your calendar

On Friday I’ll be posting how I used these steps at my house this week and how they worked for me and my kids.  I’ll also be asking you to share with me and all of the Focused Moms how you did!  For bloggers, you’ll be able to link up a blog post about Week Two with the Focused Moms Challenge, and non-bloggers will have the opportunity to share their experiences through comments.  Good luck and stay tuned this week to Facebook and Twitter for daily tips to keep you on track!

Common Sense Disclaimer: This challenge does not provide or replace psychological treatment or evaluation.  Contact a psychologist in your community if you are in need of individualized services.


  1. says

    This is a great idea! I often wonder if my kids think the chair is glued to my backside as I sit here in front of the computer! It totally makes sense to engage with them and do the computer or ipad when they are in bed. This is something I need to work on. I have used the car as my thinking spot and put my phone in my purse. No phone call is worth it and for sure no texting! Thanks for all the tips!


    • Polly says

      That is too funny! I agree though. Whenever my kids come home from school they find me sitting at the laptop. I need to GET UP and be present for them, not instilling that it’s okay to sit around on the computer all day! LOL! Love your idea about using the car as your thinking spot, I’m going to have to try that for sure!

  2. Anne says

    What did we do BEFORE we could lug our phone everywhere with us.
    Remember when they were connected to a wall, in a house and if you didn’t answer there may not have even been an option to leave a voice mail.
    Oh wait – I know what we did – we LIVED our lives to the fullest!

    • Polly says

      LOL! I remember those cell phones that people carried in a bag. They were bigger than a purse! I agree, we were so much better able to live our lives to the fullest! Glad we’re working on getting back to that!

  3. Robin says

    Guess what I did yesterday (or, rather, didn’t do)? I didn’t use my iPad at home until I crawled in the bed.

    My daughter doesn’t know this, but I’m spreading the challenge to her. As a 7-year-old, she already has a tv, wii, iTouch and iPod, camera, laptop, motorcycle, electric scooter and 4-wheeler (a lot of the electronics are compliments of the grandparents). No, I’m not bragging at what all she has, but instead am pointing out how much more electronics and motorized ‘toys’ our kids have than we did when we were their age. While my daughter would much rather be outside playing than watching tv, she usually still gravitates to something with a batter or engine.

    So back to the challenge…before my daughter can get on anything with an engine, I have her make the mile and a half trip around the lake on her bike with me. She sees it as me playing with her, but I see it as bonding and a bit of physical activity. Yesterday, we rode our bikes and stopped and talked. She would “trick” me in to thinking she was resting when she really was trying to get a head start on racing me around the lake. When we were done with our bikes, we then took the 4-wheelers out, headed to the lake and fished until it was time for dinner.

    Before this challenge, I would have stayed inside catching up on Facebook, reading the news on MSN, instead of spending this time with my daughter. Oh, and Monday it was raining, but we went outside after school and work after the rain left. I called her over to a puddle of water, and when she didn’t expected it, I jumped in it getting her all wet. This went on for 5 minutes. We laughed and laughed, and my husband laughed at us.

    We are FAR from a Hallmark family or a Lifetime made-for-tv movie as my examples above might portray, but we have laughed and spent more quality time together this past week and a half than we have in the past 4 months. Now I still raise my voice, and she still gets sassy, but I can guarantee my daughter will remember me fishing with her and splashing her with rain water more than me sitting in my office chair hooked to the electronic world.

    I am having so much fun with my daughter and my husband. Who would have ever thought a 40-year-old would be playing in puddles!

    • Polly says

      Robin, what an awesome job you are doing and what wonderful memories you are making with your daughter. And yes, isn’t it cool to find out that 40 year olds can have fun playing in mud puddles! LOL! I love how you’re getting your daughter involved in the challenge. Next week we’re going to shifting our focus more to them, so you’ve got a good head start. I’ve found already at my house how frustrating it is that while I am unplugged, the kids are still in their usual spots watching tv, playing video games, and playing on the computer! Nobody told them that there was a challenge going on! One step at a time though! By the end of the month we’re going to have the whole house focused. Thanks for sharing what you’re doing at your house. Proud of you!


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