Because the life of the single mom is already hectic, I’ve designed a list of 10 Single Mom Steps to Help You Monitor Your Tween and Teens Cell Phone.
Time in the world of a single parent is very precious and limited, and how much safer do we feel to be able to connect with our kids at the drop of a text or call?
Just get them a cell phone, they say. It’ll be easier.
Only— it’s not.
If you are thinking about it, but haven’t yet transitioned to the world of kids with cell phones, depending on the age and child, I strongly suggest a flip phone first and for the younger kids the cell phone watches like the GizmoGadget or something similar and more affordable like the Apple Watch 42 mm CandyShell Fit. To help break down this decision and buying process is 8 Of The Best Smartwatches for Kids: Updated 2018.
For those of you who are presently there or about to dive in, here are TEN very simple tips from my own humble parenting mishaps. I offer them to you in hopes that you’re life is made easier.
Trust me when I say, none of these steps are perfect or bulletproof, and honestly, it can be downright frustrating in the muck of it all, especially if you didn’t start off well prepared like I did. Take these and customize them to your family.
- Create a social media contract: Do this FIRST. Think it through. Write it out, go over it, and have boundaries in place for when rules aren’t followed. Because. This. Will. Happen. And you will want to have a plan in place for when it does. Oh, and keep this bad boy posted up in the home. Heaven forbid it’s forgotten, chewed up by the “dog” or accidentally washed in the dishwasher.
- Cell Monitoring system in place: There are a thousand and ten apps to monitor our kid’s texts, social media apps, etc. I have linked below a list of articles to help you decide based on your family’s needs. We have used TeenSafe, NetSanity and CellControl for the car. None are perfect but they allow for a decent system in place to help monitor. For most, there is a monthly, yearly or one-time fee.
- Trust is not an option: As much as we want to trust our children, we know our first priority is to protect them and put a system in place that will limit their options for disaster. Trusting them, their growing prefrontal cortex, and the world around them is not an option. I stress this for you momma, who is already so exhausted and can easily convince yourself it’s ok to go months without monitoring the phone.
- Have an accountability partner: If you have a good relationship with your ex, this is a great first option. Discussing details, like no cell phone hours during homework or at bedtime, and having a contract and monitoring plan you both agree on is ideal, but I know that is not always the case. In the event it’s not or you prefer to keep house rules separate, a good friend or mentor whose parenting is in line with yours is another option. Someone who will remind you to not drop the ball and supports your cell phone parenting plan. Someone to vent to and help you when it gets tough. Like picking your face up off the floor when you find sweet Maribel’s “Finsta” account.
- Be in the know: Follow the social media gurus that are educating parents with current cell phone information. Like what new tools kids are using to hack through the tools we use. Or those hidden apps that look like a calculator or camera but are totally something else. Josh Ochs is a great one to follow, and Meg Meeker gives great support to parents as an author and in her podcast “Parenting Great Kids“.
- Lean in and be engaged: Articles like this one, The Scary Truth About What’s Hurting Our Kids or this one We Need to Talk About Our Kids and Smart Phones are great places to start educating yourself on the sad reality of disconnecting from your tween and teen during some of the most crucial years of their life and yours as a single parent. We have enough guilt as it is. Setting firm rules and boundaries in place during this season is crucial and will help empower you as a mom! Create the space for the hard conversations. Cell phone conversations and our children’s emotions should be ongoing.
- Make time: Making time for them to get a break from the phone. Make time for you and your little to be together without it and if that is too hard, bring eachother into what you are reading, the game you are playing or the video you are watching. Having a charging station and a spot their cell phones go at bedtime or homework time is essential. You can add this into the contract. Also, this is a good time to snoop. Make sure you have the passwords, a good red wine, and a girlfriend in the event you need to vent or have a good story for a good laugh.
- Consider emotions: Know your child. What does he or she struggle with? Where my child may struggle with bullying and anger issues, yours may struggle with sexy online photos and a more passive personality. The worst thing we can do here is misjudge our children and assume they are not having the emotions or temperament we think they do. I once had to address to another mother her daughter’s cell phone bullying behavior towards my daughter. The mother responded that she was “flabbergasted” by her daughter’s behavior. I begged to differ. From a young age we often know our children’s hang-ups and those hangups definitely flare up with social media and cell phones.
- Don’t be afraid to say NO: Not that you need it, but I’m giving you permission and the go-ahead to just say no. You can’t have it. You don’t need it. This cell phone creature is in control of you, you are not in control of it. This thing seems to suck the life out of our kids, holding them hostage from chores, relationships and the great outdoors. Feel the freedom to take it away and just say no.
- Gain the heart of your child(ren): Winning the heart of our children can be a challenge for some, especially the child whose wounds run deep and the sensitive child who’s hurting from mounting disappointment. This child, who may be most at risk regarding cell phone matters and social media problems, needs to be connected to our heart more than anything. For me, this has been bringing in the village of grandparents, friends, therapist and teen mentors. I built this village because I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I know it may feel like they are highjacking the home and all your time, and they may very well be, but pull them in. Keep them close to your heart as much as you can.
If you need a quick reset or support in putting a plan in place or the setting and follow-through of boundaries you can contact me here. It’s AMAZING what a plan will do for you. We have tried life without a plan and with one. I can’t stress how valuable it is!
Food for thought: What have you been doing that is working in your home? What are you doing for support? I understand all our children are different and our homes as well. Some kids and parents don’t struggle in this area in the ways my family and others have.
Links for cell control monitoring apps: