Do You Let Technology Control Your Family Time?

Try This Simple Tactic to Take Control of Technology

Technology. Thanks to smartphones and Wi-Fi, it’s everywhere these days. Sometimes I wonder how in the world our family ever lived without it. And other times I really wish we could find out.

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As an entrepreneur, I often feel the need to be plugged in 24/7. My staff members and sales reps all have my phone number and know the door is always open to talk. I check my email often to make sure everything is going well.

But I recently got a wake-up call from one of my kids. She called me out one day and said: “You know, Dad, when you put me to bed you used to really talk to me, but now I catch you checking your text messages or checking your email. That tells me you’re not really here.”

Ouch.

I realized right then that I had been letting technology take control of what should have been family time.

As I thought about it, I realized I was doing the same thing with my wife when I came home every day. Instead of being all-in and fully present when I walked in the door, I’d be checking technology all night long.

It caused me to realize that family time isn’t family time if we’re not fully present for it.

How to Take Back Your Family Time

I decided to make a change. I led by example. I put my technology on the table.

Now when I walk into the house after a day of work, I put my smartphone on the table.

I know where it is if I need it. I can hear it if it rings. But I’m not tempted to check it every two minutes.

Just by doing what seems a simple thing, I am free to connect with my kids and my wife without being tempted to check emails, social media, or voicemail one more time.

I’ve even coined the phrase in our family, “Put your technology, on the table.” When we all go out to dinner as a family, it’s the first thing we say. Every member of the family then puts their technology in the middle of the table.

Our kids get out their phones and we stack them up in a pyramid on the table. All of our technology stays on the table until the dinner is done.

By putting our technology on the table, we all get a break from the constant tug of technology. It sends a clear signal that we are choosing to focus our attention on one another.

It’s also allowed us to talk more about how we can intentionally use technology to build the brand equity of our family business. By not posting to Instagram or checking email for a few minutes, we can get the greatest return on our investment of time together as a family.

Now whenever we gather as a family, whether for dinner, family meeting, or any family time, we put technology on the table — and it changes the dynamics of the gathering. Our kids will even call for everyone to put technology on the table if they want to get our attention.

The fact is that technology is important; we couldn’t run our businesses without it. And it can make family life simpler in many ways.

But if you really want to build your family’s brand equity, put your technology on the table — and encourage the rest of your family to join you.

Question:What do you think of our solution for putting technology in its place? What other strategies have you discovered for protecting family time from technology? You can share your thoughts by clicking here.

Why Business Leaders Can Be Great Parents

7 Ways Your Family Is Like a Business

There’s nothing like the feeling of leaving the office after a successful day. Unfortunately for many business leaders, that sense of satisfaction ends when they arrive at home and feel as if their families are spiraling out of control. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

A father and son playing electric shot car

If you are a business leader struggling to be a better parent, there is good news for you. You are closer than you realize to the clarity and confidence you need to build a family that you are proud of every day. You already have the skills and knowledge to make it happen; you just need to know how to apply them at home.

How Do Family Meetings Work with Younger Children?

3 Keys to Getting Started When Your Kids are Small

Meetings serve as the hub of family success, just as they do for business success. Family meetings are critical for our family of teen and pre-teen kids. But what if your family has younger children? Will having regular meetings still work for you?

Young Family

To answer that question, it might be helpful to think of a younger family as a start-up business. Like a start-up, younger families are often extremely busy. The executive team (Mom and Dad) wears a lot of different hats. And there’s always a significant learning curve because everything is new.

How a Work Ethic Gives Your Kids an Advantage

Teaching Children the Value of Work Prepares Them to Live a Valuable Life

Every business leader knows that you can prepare and plan all you want, but success often hinges on how willing you are to hustle when everyone else is taking it easy. Sometimes what you need to succeed — and what your children will need to succeed — seems to be in rare supply: a diligent work ethic.

Two little girls baking in the kitchen

As a small business owner, I’ve done a lot of hiring over the years. In my experience, more and more young people seem to want a high-paying job right from the start, but they don’t have the work ethic required to achieve it. I hear a lot of talk about raising the minimum-wage level but not the minimum-work level.

How Parents Can Turn Battles of Will into Teachable Moments

Harness the Power of Contracts to Win at Home

Mom, can I get a phone? Can I get a job? Dad, can I be on the soccer team? Drive a car? Play my X-Box? What parent hasn’t occasionally felt overwhelmed by all the questions from their kids? If you’re like me, you want to say yes as much as you can, but know your kids also need to learn responsibility. All too often, you end up in a battle of wills with your children where there are no winners, only survivors.

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We experienced the same conflict in our family. As you can imagine, with six children in the teen and pre-teen years now, we live in that tension between needing to guide our kids and giving them the freedom to grow. Before we began to approach our family as a business, the result was often utter chaos.

The irony is that as a business leader I would never tolerate such chaos in my business. I would never settle for “He said, She said” scenarios, ‘‘You didn’t tell me…” arguments, and all the confusion that ensued.

The Secret to Winning at Home Like You Win at Work

Is It Time to Take Control of Your Parenting Strategy?

When a business is making money, few people care about whether everyone shares a common vision. But a company cannot make profit for long unless the executive team gets on the same page. There’s one thing you need for a business to thrive in the long-term—unified leadership.

Team

When leaders don’t see eye-to-eye, a business flounders. Goals become less clear. Purpose gets fuzzy. Clear expectations go out the window. Chaos ensues as everyone advances his or her own agenda.

The same is true for a family. If you have chaos at home, the chances are good that you are not on the same page with your spouse. In business, we can cover up our divided leadership for a while behind carefully worded memos and press releases, but children have a way of identifying and taking advantage of the slightest division between parents.

You Can End the Chaos at Home

Give Your Family the Gift of Clarity

Every business leader has felt it. You head home after a fulfilling and successful day at the office only to wince when you see half a dozen texts waiting from your spouse asking you to call or telling you what one of the kids did and demanding you deal with it the minute you arrive home.

Family Eating Dinner Together

You reach for the door handle reluctantly, wishing there was a way to end the chaos at home.

I feel your pain.

When my wife, Ann, and I were married in 2011, we had both been single parents for a few years with three children apiece. Like all single parents, we had struggled to keep it all together.

Consequently, after we got married and merged our families, I thought I could take a break. Ann was, after all, extremely confident and capable as a parent. I assumed I could pass off my leadership burden to her and breathe a deep sigh of relief.

To All Those Business Leaders Who Want to Be Better Parents

Create a Win at Home by Doing What You Already Know

I used to joke with fellow business leaders who wanted to become better parents that it was much easier to be the CEO of my business than it was to be the CEO of my own home.

Happy father business man with little baby son

When I left the office each day, I left a world of rules, strategies, and success and entered a world of chaos, drama, and raging hormones.

I’ve been blessed to enjoy some success in business. I’m the President and CEO of the company I co-founded fifteen years ago—Cottage Garden, Inc. We are the #1 supplier of musical gift products in North America. In 2009, Cottage Garden was National Small Business of the Year Runner-Up. We have over two hundred sales representatives in ten countries, and our products are found in tens of thousands of retailers worldwide. In other words, I knew what I was doing when it came to running a business.

But, to be totally candid, the chaos at home left me bewildered and confused.

Who Else Wants to Be a Confident Parent?

Get So Clear on Your Purpose You Could Put It on a T-Shirt

Quick! What’s your business motto, slogan, or tagline? I’ll bet you know it pretty well don’t you? Now what is your family’s motto, slogan, or tagline?

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If your mind went blank when you read that question, you are not alone. Most families don’t have one.

Yet what is one of the first things a successful business leader like you would do if you were launching a new enterprise? After naming it, you’d develop a tagline to communicate your central purpose.

Your family already has a name. But there’s good chance it lacks a motto.