Family Vacation Time: Put Down The Damn Smart Phone!



I was a late adapter to smartphones. I saw people constantly on their smartphone and wondered, “What are they doing?” I saw a woman on the bus who feel asleep holding her smartphone on her lap as if it were a child. She might as well have caressed it and said, “how sweet.”

Yet adapt I did. I got a smartphone after tiring of hearing my students teasing me about the stone age. Besides, I wanted another option for those long tedious bus rides.

However, I promised myself I would not use be one of those people who is constantly checking his smartphone. Communication and information does not have to be instant. In other words, the smartphone would not be my third child. The children I have keep me plenty busy.

Our recent family vacation to Disney World was the most significant trip we ever took. Each of us was excited to go. While flipping thought the radio stations on the way to LaGuardia airport, we heard the song by American Authors. The chorus came on:

Oo-o-o-o-o-o This is gonna be the best day of my (Oo-o-o-o-o-o)life My li-i-i-i-i-ii-ife Oo-o-o-o-o-oooooo This is gonna be the best day of my (Oo-o-o-o-o-o)life My li-i-i-i-i-ii-ife

At that point, SJ said, “It’s true. Actually, it’s going to be the best week.” Yes, we were excited and the bar was set high.

By that evening – after a safe flight –and a visit to Downtown Disney, each of us had a meltdown. I thought Disney World was supposed to be the happiest place on Earth. I chalked it up to us being over tired and over excited.

Yet, I was determined to have no more meltdowns. Well, at least none would be because of me. I would be calm. I would be easy going. I would enjoy myself and encourage the rest of the MMK family to do the same.

Things got better. Much better. Sure there were bumps along the way. Don’t even ask about Animal Kingdom (though we did enjoy the Kilimanjaro Safari). In fact, despite the rain, long lines and heat, we saw and did a ton of things at Disney World!

At the end of each day, we would comment on what we liked best and our favorite rides. Soarin (my favorite), Test Track, Splash Mountain, and It’s a Small World (Ms. MMK’s favorite) are the attractions that most impress our family. However, there were many more.

SJ at Magic Kingdomw

SJ at the entrance of Disney’s Magic Kingdom

While we waited in those long lines, I often pulled out my smartphone. I was looking at messages, checking out some websites, etc. Some of it was important as there are some things going on (deliberately vague – will come up at some point on the blog) but nothing was urgent.

BR at Disney's Hollywood Studios

BR at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

On Monday, we were in the Magic Kingdom waiting to go on Peter Pan’s Flight. I pulled out my smartphone. BR said,

What are you looking at?
Some messages.
Can I see?
Nah. You wouldn’t be interested.
Are you?
Interested? Yeah, some what. I’d like to see it.
Well, can you put it away then?

I looked at him. His request caught me by surprise. Was it bothering him that I was looking at my smartphone? Did he feel neglected? Did he want more attention?

I didn’t ask these questions. I simply put the phone away. BR is 10 years old. He was on the biggest vacation of his life. He wanted to be in the moment with his father. The heck with the smart phone. I went on vacation to enjoy time with my family. Not with my smartphone.

I know there will come a time when BR and SJ are teens and spending time with Dad won’t rank up there as a favorite thing to do. I’m not looking forward to that time. At all. Anyway, if my son(s) want attention and I can give it to them, then I will. Besides this was a vacation. Nothing was so urgent.

I’d like to tell you I gave my boys all my attention the rest of our vacation. Unfortunately, I’d be lying. I still checked messages, though more so at night (I barely even did that after Wednesday). More importantly, I strove to be in the moment and cognizant of their needs. I encouraged everyone to try rides and have fun.

We went to Disney World for vacation to have fun as a family. And we had a great time!

I don’t need a smartphone to tell me that.

Oarents in front of the Magic Kingdomw

Ms. MMK and I with the Magic Kingdom in the background


12 thoughts on “Family Vacation Time: Put Down The Damn Smart Phone!

  1. Love that you put your phone down! I made a point to keep my phone handy for pictures, but not check it unless it was down time at the hotel. It makes a difference and I love that BR called you out! 🙂

    So glad you guys had a good time!

    • Yeah Kate, his calling on me it was a surprise. However, I’m glad he did. He should feel that he can talk to me just like Mr. T. does with you.
      It was a great time.

  2. Hope you guys had a great time! It was awesome to finally meet you all in person that week.
    I need to send you that picture that we took so you can have a copy of the day bloggers met in person and you realized that no matter how good of writer I am, there’s no way that I could ever make up a Jake :).

    • Ditto. Nice so nice to see you as well. Looking forward to getting that pic to prove two bloggers can be in the same place without it blowing up. Ha ha.

  3. Gotta tell you,

    Ms MMK looks great in the pic, you look scary. I am thrilled that you had a great time, and its says something about ur relationship with your kids that B felt comfortable enough to ask u to put away the phone.

    • No, you didn’t have to tell me that – harsh. Yes, I am glad he felt comfortable telling me that. I agree that is a good thing for our relationship.

  4. Sounds like an awesome trip. I haven’t been to Disney World with my kids but I went once when I was 20.

    The hardest part about having spent most of the past 7 years working remotely is having to rely upon my smartphone. It spends far more time in my hands than I like.

    • Yeah, the trip was great.
      It’s one thing if what you are doing is work related. Everyone has to eat. However, some people seem to go on it simply because they have it in their hands. That’s their choice of course, but I don’t want to be like that.

  5. I’m so glad you had a good time! Disney does know how to do a vacation, don’t they? But there’s something about the place that puts kids and parents at their wits end. Meltdowns galore!

    • Yes, they do know what they are doing. I think the meltdowns are because of the overstimulation. In addition, the hyperactive vacation leaves people feeling tired and therefore more vulnerable to meltdowns.

  6. You’re from New Jersey and you braved Florida in July? I’m impressed. I mean, really impressed. I’m not that brave. With the summer heat I’m afraid I’d be a puddle of melted Canadian.

    I’m so glad you and the fam had a great time and you were able/willing to honour your son’s request to be in the moment with him. You’re a great dad.

    • I live in NJ. I’m from Philadelphia. Both have similar weather. Anyway, I did a whole lot of sweating myself.
      I am trying my best and I think my boys see that. That makes me feel great.

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