So I’m a pretty “plugged in” kind of gal. I am an avid user — and lover — of social media. I keep in touch with friends via text, Facebook, and Twitter. I’ve been in a long distance relationship for over three and a half years now, and my man and I keep in touch with frequent emails and texts. What this all means is that I rely pretty heavily on the old cell phone. There’s nothing like hearing that “Ding!” that tells me someone has @replied to me on Twitter, or the “boop-boop!” of a text message from a friend, not to mention the “ba-bing!” of a BBM from my man. My cell phone has become another necessity in my life. It’s all fun and games when I’m out and about on my own, but I’ve noticed something important lately. I’ve realized that when I’ve been out with my two daughters, it’s almost never just about the three of us anymore. It’s like by having that cell phone with me and constantly turned on, I’ve invited other people — other distractions — with us on each and every outing. Between work, school, and a 50/50 parenting schedule, I get precious little time with my daughters. Even less when you consider that all of our outings included my Twitter followers and Facebook friends. So the other day I did something completely radical. I left my cell phone at home. My girls and I spent a Saturday together running errands and having fun. We went to the local Farmer’s Market for some fresh veggies and some treats. We grabbed a picnic lunch and spent the afternoon at the park, searching the beach together for sea glass. Instead of being plugged in to the whole rest of the world, I was completely tuned in to my daughters. I’ll admit that at the beginning out of our outing, I found myself jones-ing for my phone just a little bit. I was thinking about the witty comments I could be tweeting, the cute pics I could be sending to my fiance or posting on Facebook. But as the day wore on, I allowed myself to relax into the experience, and be truly present with my daughters. All thoughts of tweets and texts left my mind, leaving room for happiness to come flooding in. We were only a couple of hours into our adventure, sitting together enjoying treats in the sunshine at the Farmer’s Market when I commented that I was glad that I’d left my phone at home. My nine year piped up: “You’re less grouchy when you don’t have your phone with you.” And she was absolutely right — I did have more patience with them when I didn‘t have my phone with me. It’s really difficult to divide my attention between multiple things at once, and I often become irritated when I feel as though I’m being pulled in too many directions. It’s pretty easy to feel this way when I’ve got a little girl talking in each ear, along with the incessant chatter of Twitter and Facebook, as well as any number of text messages. At the end of the day with my two girls, I found myself feeling calm, centered, and closer to them than I have in a very long time. We’ve spent plenty of days together very similar to this one; but this was the first in a very, very long time that I didn’t have any outside distractions to bother us. The absence of my phone made a huge difference; much bigger than ever anticipated when we set out in the morning. As a society, we are all so caught up in our world of multi-tasking that we don’t even realize the price we pay for it. Learning to slow down and appreciate what’s happening right in front of us is quickly becoming a lost art. After my little experiment I’ve experienced first-hand the benefits of slowing down and being more in the moment… and I can assure you that my cell phone is going to be sitting at home a lot more often. After all, those text messages will still be there when I get back.