Carrie Bickmore’s 61-day digital detox
THEY say it takes 66 days to form a habit. I am 61 days into a digital detox - 61 days since I put my phone down and got my life back.
It's hard to believe I let it control me for so long. If it was any other addiction, I would be on a treatment plan by now.
But, like most addictions, I could only break it once I was ready.
My come-to-Jesus moment started at a resilience seminar with my 11-year-old. I elbowed him every time they mentioned how bad devices were.
He glared back, dumbfounded by the hypocrisy - "But you are the one who is always on your phone, Mum!"
I went to object and then looked down at the phone in my hand. He was right.
How could I bang on about how Fortnite was robbing him of his zest for life and his iPad was curtailing his imagination when I had my phone in my hand 24/7?
Pushing Evie on the swing - phone in hand; watching Netflix - phone in hand; walking with a friend - phone in hand.
It made me irritable and detached - and I eventually realised I was missing moments I would never get back.
It was also impacting my relationship. I'd wake up and instantly check my emails, mindlessly scroll through Instagram instead of snuggling, and even catch myself replying to a text message during a dinner date.
It infuriated me watching my partner on his phone, but I failed to see I was just as bad.
A friend told me his wife recently started taking a book to dinner to occupy herself while he sat on his phone.
It took him weeks to notice, and when he finally realised what she was doing his heart nearly stopped.
We have become the definition of rudeness. If someone just walked off in the middle of a conversation you'd think, "What a prick!"
But that's exactly what we're doing. And our kids are learning these habits.
We live in a digital world, so a complete ban was unsustainable.
Plus the reality is I work in news and need to be connected and, if I am honest, I also really enjoy an occasional trip down the rabbit warren that is social media. I needed to find a happy medium.
I now keep my phone in another room to avoid just picking it up out of habit. No phone at the dinner table. No phone while watching kids' sport.
I'm now that weirdo who talks to strangers on trains and while waiting for my coffee. I occasionally feel bored and I feel good about it.
I still have my bad days, when I lose hours to Instagram or end up with 40 tabs open while internet shopping, but I feel less guilty.
Our parents weren't perfect. My mum would sit on the cordless phone for hours talking to family, or mark exams while watching me at dancing.
She was busy multi-tasking like all of us. She wasn't available 24/7, but she was present, and that's what I want to be for my kids.
There is nothing I'll see on Facebook that could even compare to the joy of Evie's face when she nails a pirouette.
Carrie co-hosts The Project, 6.30pm weeknights on Network 10, and Carrie & Tommy, 3pm weekdays on the Hit Network.