Sometimes simply being aware is the first step toward making positive change. That’s why we’re big fans of any tool that sheds light on important issues in our lives and gets the wheels turning in our typically very scattered and often distracted brains. (When you’re a parent trying to manage a household and maintain some semblance of order, is there any other type?)
If you have a few minutes for a breather, here are two tools we’d like to put on your radar — tools that will give you valuable insights into both your thinking and behavior.
Apple Screen Time
If you use an iPhone and have upgraded to the latest iOS, you may have noticed the new feature that monitors the way you use your phone and tells you everything from how long you've spent on certain app categories to specific apps usage. It will even tell you how many times you've picked up your iPhone in a given hour (which, be forewarned, can be an alarming number for some of us).
Each Sunday, you’ll receive a report that tells you exactly what you've been doing on your phone and just how much time you wasted (er, spent) in certain apps. Here’s the kicker: Apple is able to break down the apps using the categories from the app store, so you can see whether you play a lot of games, engage on social media, use your phone for work...you get the idea.
If you use an Android phone, there's an app called QualityTime that works in a similar way. Along with providing real time reports showing how much time you spend on your phone or on your favorite apps, it also provides in-depth analysis of your smartphone habits.
While it might be tempting to just look at the number of total minutes or hours spent and move on, the idea is to see not just how long you use your phone in any given week, but how you use it.
Of course, because HelloJoey is an (ahem) app, we believe the time you spend on your phone can be very productive — or even life-changing, in fact. We chose to deliver the content we spend hundreds of hours creating each month via a mobile app because, well, it’s where people are and it’s what they use on a daily basis.
We love this Screen Time feature because it makes us all very aware of why and how we’re using our phones, and, as we said, simply being aware is the first step toward positive change.
If you haven’t checked it out, it’s worth a peek. If you decide you want to limit the amount of time you spend on any particular app, these tools will allow you to do that and will hold you accountable to the limitations you place.
As for HelloJoey, listen and read and learn as much as you’d like, knowing that your time spent is an important investment in you, your child, and your relationship. If you do decide you want to limit your screen time in general, our mantra is “10 minutes a day.” That’s all you need with HelloJoey to help you create a firm parenting foundation to support you as you manage all the parenting challenges that moms and dads commonly face.
HelloJoey’s In-App Self-Evaluation
The other tool we’d encourage you to use is a feature we’ve just introduced in our app itself: a self-evaluation. You’ll hear us say this all the time: You will be a better parent (a better everything, really) if you’re aware of how your youth, your childhood experiences, and your relationships have shaped your current thinking and behavior.
Have you ever had moments when you said something to your child and thought, “Wait! When did I become my mother?” Then there are those times you mutter something under your breath and get that déjà vu feeling, like, “I’m pretty sure I’ve said this — or maybe heard this — before. It sounds eerily like something that came from my father.”
Whether we like it or not, our parents and our pasts have shaped our present — and becoming aware of how will make us all wiser and more understanding as we head into our future. Our self-evaluation is a brief series of statements we invite you to read and then honestly consider based on how well you know yourself. Take it now, and then you can revisit it in the future to compare your results.
If you're wondering why we've included this in an app designed for parenting, it's because we believe that how you parent is fundamentally made up of three elements: you, your child, and the relationship the two of you share. The self-evaluation we created is all about YOU. Your thoughts. Your beliefs. Your experiences. Your behavior. Sometimes as parents, we feel like all our attention should be focused on our kids or our spouses. We beg to differ. Sometimes, you need to pay attention to yourself, which is why we’ve included this personal assessment. Check it out next time you’re in the app.
Screen-time is never inherently bad; don’t let the Apple Screen Time tool get you down if you’re shocked at the numbers you see. We all use screens throughout the day to be more productive at work, stay in touch with friends and family, shop, learn, teach, grow, entertain, communicate, de-stress — and the list of positive things goes on and on. However, like so many things in our lives, it also can go the other way. This is such a prominent issue that we created a whole kit about it!
Have you listened yet? Join HelloJoey host Kris Geering as she breaks down the pros and cons of screen-time for both us and our kids in “Screens Without Screams.” Start your path to a solid parenting foundation in just 10 minutes a day. Check out the HelloJoey app.