#67 - Voices of Aro: 10 ways Aro has changed this mom's family

April 30, 2024

Episode Summary

Welcome back to another episode of Voices of Aro! This month, Aro Co-Founder Joey sits down with Stephanie Christensen, a wife and homeschooling stay-at-home mom of 4 living in Gadsden, Alabama. In this episode, Stephanie shares a little bit about herself and her family, along with the moment she realized that her phone was getting in the way of her relationships. Stephanie recounts the all-too-relatable experience of intending to do something important on her phone, only to find herself mindlessly scrolling and engaging in less meaningful activities. She then reflects on the changes she's noticed in her household since becoming an Aro member, even outlining ten specific improvements. We wrap up the episode with Stephanie sharing some advice for the parents feeling the struggle of managing phones and technology in the home. If you're an Aro member and interested in sharing your own Aro story, please reach out to us at stories@goaro.com. We'd love to hear from you!

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Episode Transcript

Joey Odom (00:02):

Welcome back to The Aro Podcast. Hey, it's your good friend, Joey Odom, Co-Founder of Aro, and you have stumbled upon one of my favorite times of the month. It is Voices of Aro Week on The Aro Podcast. The reason why this is one of my favorite weeks is because it's us. This is us talking. This is like you're sitting across the table drinking coffee with a friend and they're just talking to you about, Hey, here's what I was struggling with and here's something that's really helped me, and here's what my life looks like. It's one of those moments when as we have thought leaders on here and they're so good to learn from, but sometimes we need to know, Hey, there are other people like me who may be struggling a little bit like I am when it comes to putting down my phone or being present with my family, or fulfilling all these intentions we have for our lives.

So let me ask you a question to begin. Have you ever heard something like, mom put down your phone, dad, put down your phone, mom, dad, you're always on your phone, honey, you're always on your phone. Have you ever heard something like that? If you have, I want to let you in. A little secret is that everyone has heard that is that everyone is struggling with this, even the great ones and our kids, I want you to know this also, our kids do notice those moments when we're toggled to our phones, when we're glued to our phones and for them, they don't really care what we're doing on them. We could be saving the world or we could be playing a game for them. All they know is that our eyes are not directed on them. Now we all understand there are things we have to do on our phone sometimes.

I would actually encourage you to go back, John Delony on the John Delony interview we had, he talks a lot about this on what to do when a child enter enters the room. Go listen to that episode with John Delony. But the real message here is that we're all struggling with this, and so I'm going to introduce you today to Stephanie Christensen. Stephanie lives in Alabama, she and her husband and their four girls, and Stephanie is a homeschool mom. And I've been convinced, you've heard me say before, homeschool moms rule the world. We know that you got the homeschool mom Illuminati. They rule the world out there. And so for a homeschool mom to be struggling with this, you got to really take some comfort in that. This is the top 1% of people when it comes to intentionality. But she found herself pulled away from what she was really intending to do at the moment because of her phone.

So you're going to hear her story and you're going to hear the hopefulness on the other side, which was she lacked a system. She lack clarity, and she has that and she's thriving now. But when you hear that story of success, don't forget where she came from. Don't forget where I came from again, we started Aro Heath Wilson and I started Aro because we were struggling. We were legitimately struggling and we needed help. So I want you to know that if you feel the struggle, if you can relate to that, I just want to encourage you with this. Things can look different. The world can look different. We are not resigned. We're not resigned to a life of distraction. We're not resigned to this to hearing. You're on your phone again. You're always on your phone. I promise you that. And Stephanie is living proof of that.

Stephanie gives four words at the end. I want you to stick around. In the end, she gives four words that I think are so powerful and just like the organized, diligent homeschool mom she is, she gives us a top 10 ways that her life has changed. Top 10, that's a new one. Voices of Aro. You're going to notice that Stephanie pronounces Aro arrow. I want you to know something. You say potato, I say potato. You say arrow, I say Aro. We don't care what you call it. We're just glad you're here for now. Sit back, relax, and enjoy my great conversation with Stephanie Christensen. Stephanie Christensen, I am so excited to talk to you and I'm going to kick off with a question that the world wants to know. Is it roll tide or is it war Eagle? What have we got in the Christensen household?

Stephanie Christensen (03:37):

We actually are not big into football

Joey Odom (03:41):

Really. Okay, I like that. So you can stay totally neutral. So you are the Switzerland of Alabama, is that correct? I love it. Stephanie, thank you for joining us. I'm really excited to talk. Will you start us off with, let's hear about the Christensen household. Let's hear about your home, where you live, who you live with, and a little bit about your family.

Stephanie Christensen (04:02):

So we live in Gadsden, Alabama, and we've been married for 10 years. My husband works as a maintenance technician at Cooks Foods, and I'm 34 and I'm a stay at home mom, and I homeschool my five and 8-year-old, and we also have almost 2-year-old twins. And as if that's not enough to keep me busy, I'm active in my church. I sing on the worship team and I have two side hustles. I do rover, which is keeping dogs while people go on vacation. And then I love to play on my cricket. And then my biggest thing is I've been a Spanish tutor for 15 years now, and I've been trying to grow my business online.

Joey Odom (04:45):

Amazing. Okay, so I got to ask, do you talk to the dogs in Spanish? Do you ever drop some of that? Do they ever respond in Spanish? I

Stephanie Christensen (04:55):

Have one because the owner is Hispanic,

Joey Odom (04:59):

So my daughter loves watching dogs. And so we had a dog at Christmas stay with us and was not responding to anything at all. And then it dawned on me, Hey idiot, this dog lives in a Spanish speaking household. So I started speaking Spanish to it and he would listen to everything we said now it was really, really easy. That's really, really funny. Well, so you do a little bit of everything. So that is very, very impressive. I would love to hear. So inevitably, you're a homeschool mom, by the way. I'm fully convinced homeschool moms rule the world. I know this already. They are machines. So you are one of them. And that is incredible. So I want to hear, I know technology plays a big role in that. So your kids, I assume your 8-year-old does not yet have a phone. Is that correct? And so you are your kind of square in the target of people we like to talk to because it's people like you who realize, wait a second, my phone's getting in the way and it's not my kid's fault, it's my fault. So we're the ones to blame. I would love Will tell us a little bit about what your journey with technology has been like in doing everything that you do.

Stephanie Christensen (06:03):

Yes. So actually with the phone getting in the way, it was my 8-year-old who kind of gave me the aha moment. I asked her to describe what I did all day and she said, well, you take care of the house, you take care of us, and then you're on your phone. Those were the three things that I did, and I'm like, that's not good.

Joey Odom (06:28):

Oh man. How did that make you feel? I mean, there has to be a level of defensiveness and maybe in a justifiable way to say, yeah, I do a lot of important stuff on here. There's a lot that goes on here. So I would love to hear that balance. What is that like knowing that on one hand you're doing important stuff, but on the other hand, that's one of the three things that your 8-year-old says that you do?

Stephanie Christensen (06:51):

Yeah, well, that's where Aro really stepped in and helped us for me to be able to find that balance. Because my issue was when I was on the phone, I was doing some important things, but then I'd also be scrolling or I'd also be doing things that weren't so important.

Joey Odom (07:07):

How about your husband? What is technology life for him? Does he kind of feel that same struggle, do you think? Has he ever mentioned to you, Hey, Steph, pay attention to me a little bit.

Stephanie Christensen (07:16):

Yes, for sure.

Joey Odom (07:18):

I'd love to hear about that a little bit.

Stephanie Christensen (07:19):

When I started talking to him about, Hey, we need to jump on board this Aro. He was like, okay, yeah, I can see this would help. But actually what has really helped us is the Aro Flip.

Joey Odom (07:33):

Oh, I like it. Let's hear about that.

Stephanie Christensen (07:35):

Yeah, because he is more apt to do it at work and he's more apt to do it when we're out places. Actually, when we went on a date, we did Aro Flip and that just made a huge difference for us.

Joey Odom (07:48):

So I'm curious, this is one thing, obviously I'm clearly very sold on Aro and on Flip and the Box and everything, but I'm curious what it is for you. We all have the ability wherever we are to flip our phones over. So what is it about having that connection with the app? What is it about being able to know you're in a session that makes it more powerful than just kind of flipping it over on your own?

Stephanie Christensen (08:13):

Well, everything is recorded there, so we know after we unflip it, we can put what we just did and then as it grows and you see, oh wow, look how many hours I've spent today. And actually that's the thing too with Aro Flip my hours, I went from two hours a day on Aro to four. It's a lot easier. I have that flip there and just flip it over and I'm adding minutes.

Joey Odom (08:39):

Oh, that is awesome. Yeah. When do you find yourself, Stephanie, when do you find yourself using Aro the most? What are the things that you're doing those activities? The reason I ask that, one of the big questions that people will ask is, okay, what do I do after I put down my phone? I don't do that very often. So what do you find doing? When are you particularly using Aro? Whether it's Flip or the Box?

Stephanie Christensen (09:00):

Okay. I started as soon as I got the box to use it at nighttime, and that helped majorly because the box is in our living room and I'm not getting up and checking my phone. I've actually put into my own little system of getting up and doing devotions before I even get out of bed. And then as soon as I get out of bed, exercise for 10 minutes making myself exercise, and then I go get my phone out of the box.

Joey Odom (09:27):

I love that. And that morning routine, how has that felt? I mean, have you felt a noticeable difference?

Stephanie Christensen (09:32):

It's amazing.

Joey Odom (09:33):

Yes. Is that right?

Stephanie Christensen (09:35):

It's made a huge difference. And then mostly I'll use Aro doing my chores and homeschooling. That's been amazing because I don't have my phone right beside me as I'm homeschooling, so I'm more intentional about homeschooling because it's in the box. So that helps.

Joey Odom (09:51):

And we all know that you have an 8-year-old critic. Has your 8-year-old critic, has your 8-year-old critic noticed that maybe that top three job that you had looking at your phone, has she noticed that it's a she? Correct?

Stephanie Christensen (10:05):

Yes. I have four girls.

Joey Odom (10:07):

Okay, four girls. Good for you. Goodness. So good for your husband, by the way. So has your 8-year-old, has she noticed, do you believe the time that you're spending away from your phone?

Stephanie Christensen (10:19):

Yes. And then we also let our children come to us and say, can I take your phone to the box? So they have that permission.

Joey Odom (10:28):

You got to tell me about that. How did that happen?

Stephanie Christensen (10:31):

Because we really did realize that hearing that mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, that hey, they're feeling dejected right now. They're not getting the tension that they need. I've got to put this away.

Joey Odom (10:46):

Wow. And so when they saw you using the box, was it them, they would come grab your phone and take it? Or did you just voluntarily say, Hey, I want you to go ahead and take my phone whenever you need it? It's

Stephanie Christensen (10:57):

A little bit of both. A little bit of both.

Joey Odom (10:59):

That's so awesome. Who do you think of all of 'em, I guess maybe between the 5-year-old and 8-year-old. Do you think it's been equal? They both equally kind of appreciated what's happening or has one been more responsive than the other?

Stephanie Christensen (11:12):

It's definitely been equal.

Joey Odom (11:15):

That's so interesting. I really, really like that. Okay, so tell me, we were talking a little bit before we recorded that you've seen some very tangible results in your life and you've even listed them as, by the way, as a great homeschool mom would do, you've made a list. So Aro means to notice. So I would love to hear what difference have you seen from the beforehand when your girls and your husband were saying, Hey, you're on your phone. Be present. What have you noticed since Aro was coming to your home?

Stephanie Christensen (11:47):

Okay, so here's the 10 things that I wrote down.

Joey Odom (11:52):

Look at this homeschool mom of the year, the 10 things, the 10 things that go on, but I just love this so much already.

Stephanie Christensen (12:00):

Okay? Number one, family dinners are without phone. So we're talking to our kids more and we're having more of a conversation at the mill without the distraction of the phone. Number two, I sleep better. My phone is not no longer with me. It's in the box and I can get up and I do my devotions and I exercise. And number three, our whole family is way more intentional than we were before. We're dreaming more, but more importantly than dreaming, we're acting upon those dreams. We wanted to, we live in the city, but we wanted to grow our own food, have some of our own vegetables. So yesterday actually, my husband made a couple box gardens, so we can do that this year.

Joey Odom (12:48):

That's so cool.

Stephanie Christensen (12:49):

So number four, our kids are happier. They're able to come to us and say, Hey, can I have your phone? Let's put it in the box. Let's go play a game. But then with that, playing a game, we also, my husband and I decided that, hey, we need to do family game night once a week. So we actually do that on Sunday nights now. And that has been phenomenal for our family, especially for a five-year-old, because at first our five-year-old was not the best sport and losing, but now her attitude has changed so much and it's just from getting together, having that family time and playing together. And that's thanks to Aro.

Joey Odom (13:33):


Stephanie Christensen (13:34):

So that was, let's see, number four, number five, homeschooling is better. I'm more intentional with putting my phone in the box, and we're intentional with spending time outside. We're using the thousand hour tracker and we are up to a hundred hours. We started tracking in January, actually.

Joey Odom (13:52):

I love that. And by the way, how great is a thousand hours outside? Yes,

Stephanie Christensen (13:56):

We love it.

Joey Odom (13:57):

What a great, everybody go listen to the thousand Hours Outside podcast. That's your little plug. That is just an amazing group. And people and Jenny and Josh are just the best. So that's a little side plug, but we're big thousand hours fans

Stephanie Christensen (14:10):

And our marriage is better. We do a monthly date night and we use Aro Flip and we're just communicating better. My husband and I. And then that also leads to number seven. Relationships are better, not just in the home, but outside of the home. We started having people over to our home once a month for dinner and then going to a friend's house once a month. We have time for that now. Then number eight, parenting is better. We're actually taking a course right now by Dr. Josh and Christie Straub. We're doing My Kid's A QI

Joey Odom (14:49):

Love it. Look at this. These are all the people we love. You're talking about all the people we love. I emailed Josh Straub this morning. I mean, those are just amazing people. Everybody go listen to Josh Straub's pocket. There's another plug.

Stephanie Christensen (15:02):

And actually so famous at Home was how I found you, you guys. Oh,

Joey Odom (15:06):

Really? Okay. Yes.

Stephanie Christensen (15:07):

I was looking for something to help me because I knew with my 8-year-old what she said, and then it wasn't working out with the iPhone. I was just ignoring, ignoring, ignoring. And then I heard your podcast on there and I was like, ah, this is my answer.

Joey Odom (15:24):

Amazing. Everybody go listen to Famous on home. Josh and Chris are the best.

Stephanie Christensen (15:28):

And then number nine, my home life is better. It's easier for me to keep track with cleaning up my house, and then I've actually aboard the minimalistic train and decluttering, have time for that. And number 10, I'm a happier person. Why wouldn't I be? My kids are happier, my marriage is better, my house is better, my homeschooling is better, and I have more time to be the person that God created me to be. And not just to do it, but to do it well.

Joey Odom (15:58):

Wow. There are a couple things that jump out to me that are absolutely fascinating. Stephanie. You are clearly a very intentional person, and even you who are the intentional of the intentional, just like all of us, even you struggle with the phone. I mean struggled with the phone. This is something for the best of us that gets in the way. And what's so cool without you knowing it, you've just described the four pillars of digital wellness. So when we talk about digital wellness, we talk about four things, their impacts on four things. One of them is how it impacts us personally. I mean, that was your number 10. You're happier, you're a happier person. That's you personally. And then we talk about how it impacts your productivity. So that was number five. Homeschooling is better. Talk about the things that you're doing. You're better at that.

Then you talk about family life, and that was all interspersed. That's the third pillar of digital wellness. Then the fourth pillar of digital wellness is your relationships, your external relationships, your community, and you said that was number seven. Your relationships are better. So this is just me being personally gratified and hearing this. This is what we have hope for people is if you're struggling and all of us do, if you're struggling and saying, I need a little bit of help here, this is something that will make a difference in your life. And I think you're walking, living proof of this. And I'm curious, I didn't ask at the top, how long have you been using Aro?

Stephanie Christensen (17:16):

Since May of 2023. So almost a year.

Joey Odom (17:19):

That's amazing. I love that. I want to close out with a question, Stephanie, what kind of encouragement or advice, let's say another homeschool mom's listening or maybe a couple's listening or a husband who knows who he's been struggling. What kind of encouragement or advice would you give to somebody who's in that spot who's struggling with their digital device and doesn't really know what to do?

Stephanie Christensen (17:42):

My encouragement would be that you can do it, that you can make a difference. And Aro is designed to help you to put your phone away, and not just to put it away, but to make a habit of it. It didn't happen for us overnight. We didn't do all these incredible things overnight. But as I look back over the year, I can say, wow, we have made a ton of changes and it has been small steps. And so they can do it too.

Joey Odom (18:11):

You can do it. What? Great advice. Sometimes just those four words, just knowing it and maybe even somebody listening right now, this is going to be a little bit silly. And even if you're with somebody, I want you to do it. How about just if you're listening to this, just say out loud, I can do it. What will happen? When you say that, that just activates something, doesn't it, Stephanie? I mean, just activates something. You'd be like, there's some power in that. I can do it. This is not insurmountable. So Stephanie, so grateful for you coming and talking with us. Thank you so much. I'm encouraged. I believe I can do it. I, I'm no homeschool supermom, but know I can do it. I'm grateful for you. Thank you very, very much for joining us.

Stephanie Christensen (18:49):

All right. Thanks for having me.

Joey Odom (18:50):

Hey, thank you for joining us on Voices of Aro. Hey, if you're an Aro member and you would like to be part of Voices of Aro, just shoot us an email at stories@goaro.com. If you are not yet an Aro member and you want to learn more, go to our website, goaro.com or follow us on Instagram @goaronow. Lastly, if you would do me an enormous favor, will you please leave us a five star rating wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you so much for joining us on Voices of Aro. We can't wait to see you next time on Voices of Aro or The Aro Podcast. The Aro Podcast is produced and edited by the team at Palm Tree Pod co. Special thanks to Emily Miles for video and digital support and to our executive producer Aro's own, Katelyn Farley.