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OMG, Take a Tech Break!

Here’s how not to thumb-type your way through your kids’ cutest years.

Make at-home hours sacred. "I learned this one from a colleague," says Lauren Smith, a mom in Dayton, Ohio. "I’ve told people at the office if they need to reach me between the hours of 6:30, when I get home, and 8:30, when my son goes to bed, they should call. It’s amazing how infrequently they actually pick up the phone!"

Just say no to texting. Kids deserve your full attention—and they need it at the playground. Save the texting for naptime.

Caller ID is your friend. "I carry my cell with me all day," says Jennifer Sande, a mom of two in Atlanta, Georgia, "but if I’m out doing something with my girls, I check the caller ID and answer only if it’s my husband."

Don’t walk into the house on the phone. "Our rule is, my husband has to finish his work calls in the car or outside before he comes in," says Brenna Paransky, a mom of two in Raleigh, North Carolina. "The boys are excited to see their daddy after a long day, and I need them to know that they come first when he walks in the door."

Go ahead, get your Facebook fix. Just let your toddler in on the fun! Flipping through a friend’s baby pictures or watching a video of a pal’s puppy can be fun for both of you. She’s probably only wiggle-proof for five minutes—gotta love the self-enforced time limit.

Break your own rules…sometimes. "Generally, I try to take care of only the urgent personal matters during my time with the kids and save the extra stuff for times when they’re at school or in bed," says Elaine Hou, a mom of twins in Woodbridge, New Jersey. "On the other hand, there’s also a good case to be made for teaching kids that Mommy needs time for herself, so there are instances when my kids have to occupy themselves as they wait for me to finish some task on the computer. It’s all about finding balance."

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