5 Tips for Managing Our Smart Phone and the Mom Guilt It Causes
In a recent conversation with a fellow mompreneur about family, business and juggling it all, we accidentally found ourselves on the topic of OUR PHONES.
Some days I just can’t stand the thing.
It’s such a source of angst. Has anyone Heart-ed my Instagram post? Another text rolling in…another task for my never-gonna-get-it-done-but-need-to-do list. A phone call interrupting the precious minutes I’ve carved out to work on a new project.
But as frustrating as our phones are some days, they’re a direct line to the people we love most in this world and to the customers we work tirelessly to serve. A song comes on that reminds us of our dad…type out a quick text telling him so. A customer messages us on Facebook to buy another scarf, this time for her sister. Our bestie uses PayPal to cover her part of the lake trip.
So many good things happening! Our phones allow us to connect with people in ways that weren’t even conceived of 15 years ago. #mindblowing
But, with great opportunity comes great responsibility, and that’s where we find ourselves today - trying to handle the phone thing with purpose, instead of the roller coaster it often feels.
This post is about how we can manage the tension of needing, wanting and can’t standing our phones, all the while still promoting our businesses responsibly - i.e., with less mom guilt.
Manage the Tension
In the book One Question, author Ken Coleman asks Andy Stanley a question about preparing for the future while staying present in the now. In Stanley’s response he uses the phrase “not a problem to be solved but a tension to be managed.”
This discussion between two men obviously wasn’t about mom guilt, but the second I read his phrase, my brain sighed happily. Finally a phrase to capture this disquiet…this uneasiness…the frustration we call MOM GUILT.
See, we’ll never “solve” the mom guilt problem because our nurturing instinct always urges us to do more for our children. When our focus shifts from our children to, let’s say, our businesses, nasty thoughts creep in. As we write an email telling customers about an awesome sale we’re having, we start berating ourselves; we should be cooking a hot breakfast for our poor children. Or, as we rush out to meet with a dream client, we chastise ourselves because we should be taking our son to Paris to study architecture; at two, he’s got real talent with Legos, and we’re stifling his dream to chase ours.
Mom guilt is an irrational beast. It’s a nasty one, for sure, and a joy stealer!
But, I firmly believe it is a tension that can be managed. Putting our phones in their rightful place is one powerful way we can tell this mom guilt to come back another day (because it will, y’all, come back. Just not today! Just not at this moment!).
Check Our Marketing Mindset
Before we move to tangible ways to manage our phone usage AND still promote our businesses, we must address our marketing mindset.
First, we have to understand that we can focus on only ONE thing at a time. Multitasking is rarely successful. Don’t believe me?!
Think of the frustration you feel as you try to “squeeze in a post” while picking up your children from school. In those minutes, the post takes too long to write or the big story from school goes on and on and on. You find no joy in either task - writing the post or listening to the tale. That’s because your brain is on fire, and steam’s billowing from your ears.
Our brains want to focus on one task and to do it well, not 14 tasks done just halfheartedly.
Second, good customers give us time to respond. We often subscribe to the mindset that our customers need us…like around the clock. Reality is, most don’t; they have their own lives. They ask a question by email, DM or comment and then check back later for our response.
And if we have customers that expect answers immediately, we may want to fire them. Just sayin’ - we can’t fix crazy.
We do have special situations where a response is needed instantly, but we usually know about those in advance. We can keep our phones close during those rare times.
Otherwise, a reply “by the end of business today” or within 12 to 24 hours is acceptable. Christy Wright, a Ramsey Solutions speaker and author of Business Boutique, urges women to teach clients how to treat them, meaning inform customers in advance when to expect responses from us. (And, then of course, we should respond within that time limit. It builds trust and makes for loyal customers.)
Third, our children are watching. This one hits home, y’all. It’s hard to get on to our children for their technology use when the only time we looked up in 15 minutes from our Instagram scrolling was to “correct” our wayward kids. We only paused, then, because their argument about the game had grown so loud that we couldn’t focus on the strangers’ pictures on our screen. #theirony
Let me be clear. We need our phones, and engaging with followers on social media is a part of running a business these days. Responding to DM’s - a good thing. Posting consistently - definitely should do. Checking your bank account and sales for the week - yep, do it. These are all great things for our businesses and can be done with our little handy-dandy devices!
The juxtaposition lies in working on our phones AND being present with our loved ones.
Hopefully the tips below will help us to manage the tension of our phones for business and this mean monster called mom guilt.
Tip 1: Post on Our Time
Much of our mom guilt comes after moments of frustration - like when we catch ourselves not listening to our children or snapping at them because, at the very same moment, we need to finish an email and they need a snack.
So, a game changer is to post when we have time to be social with our online community.
When you “squeeze in a post” while waiting in car line, 2 minutes before baby girl hops in ready to tell you about her day, it’s just not worth it. The post will probably suck. You’ll be mad at yourself for typing instead of listening. Little miss may notice your lack of attention. No one - not your business, not you, not baby girl - wins in this scenario.
Yet, we put ourselves in this situation all. the. time.
Instead, let’s post when we can be social. And, if we’ve ran out of time that day…oh well.
Don’t get me wrong. I STRONGLY BELIEVE IN POSTING CONSISTENTLY, but that doesn’t mean every day…just regularly. (See Tip 5 for more on this topic.)
Side note, there are some posts, for example sale dates, closing early, opening late, deadlines for orders, that must be made on specific days. I understand that. Those are rare, though, so we will handle them when needed…even in the car line, even 2 minutes before baby girl climbs in.
Tip 2: Set Times to Be Social.
This one is closely related to Tip 1 but delves deeper into our schedules.
Plan for your social media each day. Think about what your day entails and then plan accordingly. Put it on your to-do list…including the time you want to post.
For example, if your kids leave for school around 7:00 am, write your media then. Interact with others’ posts and respond to comments in your feed, etc. Then, move onto your next task until later in the afternoon when you’ve carved out another 20 minutes “to be social.”
Please understand me - planning to be social STILL means to be sincere. Blocking off time to check media and to interact with others online is like going to dinner with a friend. You set a time to meet her, and while together, you have fun, genuine conversations.
Tip 3: Go Live Weekly.
A heavy hitter in Instagram’s and Facebook’s algorithm is Live videos. Both platforms love when accounts use all the possibilities - from posts in the regular feed to Live videos to Stories, and those accounts that do are often rewarded (i.e., their posts are shown to more people).
While we kinda, sorta know this already, we don’t act on it. Most of us (I’m raising my hand too) are scared of going Live, and so we just don’t do it.
Yet, what if going Live once or twice each week could save us time in the long run?! Help our customers more? Bolster our business accounts?
Would going Live be worth it then?
I’m not suggesting to write our normal amount of posts plus go Live. I am actually suggesting to replace some of our “regular posts” with Lives. I look at it as being ultra social (since Lives are heavy hitters in the algo) once or twice a week so we can be less social at other times of the week. :)
If possible, determine a time weekly to go Live so customers know when to expect it - every Wednesday morning at 9:00 or every Monday and Friday at 2:30 pm because little man gets home later those afternoons.
If a scheduled time is not an option, that’s okay. Still go Live throughout the week. And, if we’re able and willing, we should let our customers know in advance; use Stories or regular posts to inform them. (That’s a good tip even if we have a scheduled weekly time. Everyone needs reminders!)
For Facebook, once you’ve finished your Live video, you will get an option to Post. By choosing to do so, your video will be placed in your feed for others to view if they didn’t see it in real time. I strongly suggest you choose this option, even if your video isn’t perfect. (Remember, progress not perfection.)
See the link here for an in-depth tutorial on using Facebook Live.
For Instagram, Live videos only hang around for 24 hours. They are placed in the Stories bar, and users can replay them there if they missed you Live. If you are really happy with the video and it’s chocked full of info pertinent to your biz and customers, you may want to add it to your Highlights (the little round circles below your profile). That way, your great video stays around forever, well until something better than Insta comes along. :)
And to address the elephant in the room - what if we don’t have a large following? What if no one shows up to our Lives? I love how Jennifer Allwood, a DIYer and business-growth expert, said it, “GOOD! You get chances to practice with small audiences!”
And, if we keep at it, our audience size will grow.
Tip 4: Turn Off Notifications.
Yeeeeessss, please. This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to stay present when we’re with family and friends. There’s no mom guilt because we’re too busy living in the moment, not in the feed!
I am, though, playing with turning ON notifications at a certain time of day…for a certain period of time (e.g., right after I post, when away from my family or when doing something mundane like folding clothes). That way, I can respond quickly to comments or messages on my social media accounts.
Engagement with posts - comments and swipes, for example - tells Insta and Facebook that our posts are relevant, and the algorithm pushes them out to more people. So commenting in real time is wonderful for our social media accounts. But, it is a nightmare for our family life (i.e., kids needing our attention = frustration = lash outs = mom guilt x 1,000).
So, if we try the “notifications on” trick, we (RACHEL, talking to you here!) must be disciplined to turn them off in our phone settings when our allotted time is up. That way, we go back to real life and the real people in it.
Tip 5: Give Ourselves Days Off.
I believe in consistency. But, I believe in grace too.
This means, there will be days when writing a post and interacting with people on social media just ain’t gonna happen! We all know this but act like our lives are ones from magazines with supermodels and the posed pretty messes. We act like vomit across every seat in the car, an emergency visit to the vet, a shipping mishap with our biz and a phone call from a college friend whose dad just died don’t happen!
These things happen. So, plan accordingly, acknowledge we live real lives.
Each week, we can give ourselves a day off (or two or three). Let’s aim to post 4-6 days a week - regular feed, one or two Lives, put content on our Stories - and then let’s enjoy the break on ones we deem “off days” or give ourselves grace when crazy gets the best of us.
Truthfully, we work harder at business, in exercise, on social media, etc. when we know we have a rest day coming. :)
Mom guilt is a tension to be managed, not a problem to solve. These tips are meant to help us manage the tension, not permanently erase mom guilt because that ain’t happening, y’all!
We live real lives so things will come up. We’ll have to post about an upcoming sales event while at dinner with our children. That’s okay. It is good for our children to see us work!
We’ll have to respond to an email from a disgruntled customer whose overnighted package didn’t arrive, all the while trying to watch a family movie. That’s not ideal, but it happens. It’s good for our children to see that business is not always sunshine and flowers.
The goal here is not perfection - to never use our phones for business while our children are present. The goal, instead, is to be more intentional with how we use our phones…to recognize that with some planning, we can be more present with our families and on the phone less when with them.