I was playing with my son on a recent afternoon when he did something silly: He took my phone right out of my hand, ran into the other room and hid it. FWIW, his hiding spot was actually clever—he zipped it into one of his toy suitcases—but his point was clear: Put your phone down, mama.
Of course my phone use wasn’t meant to annoy him. My life just runs a lot more smoothly when I can play and quick reply to my spouse at the grocery store or get back to an urgent work Slack at the same time. My intention is to be present, of course, but I’ve got a million balls in the air—and if my kid is buried in a LEGO project, will he really notice (or mind) if I avert my eyes to tap away on my phone for a few minutes?
The answer is yes, according to Dr. Becky Kennedy, parenting expert and author of the new book Good Inside. In a recent interview with journalist Elizabeth Holmes, she shared her tactic for making one-on-one time really count: PNP time.
What’s PNP time? PNP stands for ‘play, no phone,’ meaning her device isn’t just on silent when she’s hanging with her kids, it’s in a different room. “When my kids look at me, they see the back of my phone a lot,” she explains. “It’s very visual to think about that. There’s literally something blocking their connection to us [as parents].”