#71 - Voices of Aro: How one mom realized how much time her phone was stealing

May 28, 2024
Stephanie Blunt

Episode Summary

Welcome back to another episode of Voices of Aro! This month, Aro Co-Founder Joey sits down with Stephanie Blunt, a wife and mom of 4, originally from Canada, but now living in Florida with her family. In this episode, Stephanie shares a little bit about herself and her family, along with the moment she realized her phone was stealing her time and providing an escape from reality. Stephanie goes on to share the true turning point to reassessing her relationship with her phone, particularly when feelings of resentment towards her children surfaced during interruptions while scrolling. She and Joey discuss the harsh reality that it is really hard to put down your phone, and how Aro has helped with that in her own home, including some of the positive things she has noticed since becoming an Aro member. We wrap up the episode with Stephanie sharing some advice for new moms feeling the struggle of seeking IRL connection apart from phones and social media. 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 (00:03):

Welcome back to The Aro Podcast. Hey, it's your good friend, Joey Odom, co-founder of Aro, and you have found yourself today on Voices of Aro Day. And today I have a talk with one of my new friends, Stephanie Blunt. Stephanie is an amazing mom, an Aro member, and we have a great open, candid conversation. I told Stephanie after that she's just a well of wisdom. She gives so much wisdom in here. And just as a reminder, Voices of Aro is a conversation with somebody just like you, a mom or a dad, somebody who struggles just like you do. Someone who has success is just like you do, who loves their kids, who's trying to live intentionally. And it goes through some of the journey and the story of struggling specifically with technology. And something Stephanie says is something that we've heard from a lot of parents, and I love when parents say this.

That may sound weird when you hear what it is, but I love when parents say this because it's such a high level of self-awareness that it requires to say this is she found herself as she was in her phone all the time with young kids and actually documenting their lives, pictures and all that kind of stuff. But she found herself in doing that, feeling resentful towards her kids for distracting her from her phone basically. The thing I love about that is we've heard that a bunch, and I think that you're going to relate to that, and that's a hard thing to say. I think the one reason I'm glad she said it is that it is hard to say and it gives you courage to say, oh, I felt that too. And then she tells us how she got through that. The things that she did towards that she talked about, and I think probably a lot of young parents can relate to this, is she felt a little bit of a loss of autonomy.

I used to be able to do whatever I could do, and now it's so hard to finish one thing. And this phone, it's just so alluring, and she's found a very practical rhythm in her life that allows her to really savor her kids and to have her phone, but put it into proper place at the right time. So we love that so much. If Stephanie's message, if her story inspires you, will you go check out goaro.com, just sign up for our email list or go follow us on Instagram@goaronow. Or if you say, Hey, this is something I could use for myself, we would love to have you. Aro is here to help support you so that you can be the intentional parent you want and raise the family you want for now. Sit back, relax, enjoy my conversation with the wise. Stephanie Blunt. Stephanie Blunt, it's so good to see you. Thank you very, very much for joining us today. I'm so excited to talk to you.

Stephanie Blunt (02:43):

Thanks for having me. I'm pumped.

Joey Odom (02:44):

Yeah. Okay. So for the listener, give us a little bit of background on the blunt family, who you are. We were talking a little bit off air. It sounds like you have a lot going on in your home, but let's hear about your family.

Stephanie Blunt (02:55):

Yeah, so my husband, Jonathan, I have been for going on nine years next month, which is exciting. We have four kiddos, they're all girls. Got a little woman cast up in here. So my eldest, she will be six next week. Then I have a four and a half year old and a half is very important. And then a 3-year-old, she'll correct me if I miss that half. And then our youngest sparrow is 10 months, and so she's the baby of the crew. But yeah, it's a lot of fun. It's a lot of energy, but we love it. It's a lot of fun.

Joey Odom (03:37):

And you said Sparrow is becoming very opinionated, is that correct? Yes.

Stephanie Blunt (03:41):

Yeah. I mean they're all very strong-willed, but she's very strong-willed at 10 months. She has a very strong opinion about things, especially car rides right now. Yeah. And in food, and she'll have no qualms about grabbing food from your hand while you're trying to eat. She's like, no, thank you, that's fine. And she'll just grab it. I feel like today she just pulled the stand for the first time. So I'm like, all right, here we go. It's going to be another adventure. But we have a lot of fun. We homeschool, we try to be really intentional about being outdoors. We have a lot of fun, family rhythms. I dunno, we're kind of really eclectic, but I feel like we also have a lot of fun together as a family. And so really thankful. We're originally from Canada, north of Toronto, but right now in this season we're here in Florida, which has been so nice during the winter. I just want to say I'm sorry, all the Canadians out there, I'm just enjoying the sunshine right now.

Joey Odom (04:47):

Go. I did, let's see, a couple winters ago we went down to Florida to visit my wife's family, and I really got it. I understood the snowbirds. It makes perfect sense. Why would you not want to be in that environment? So I can totally understand what you're doing there.

Stephanie Blunt (05:04):

And the thing that gets me is that we all call 'em the Canadian geese, but the Canadian geese leave Canada during the winter. Okay. They migrate. So can we just say that

Joey Odom (05:13):

That's right

Stephanie Blunt (05:15):

For being here? And I'm like, how about the geese? The geese during the winter? Anyways, that's all. I

Joey Odom (05:20):

Love that. I like how I'm trying to connect. You got Sparrow and she's a goose, Canadian goose parasite. I haven't quite developed that one there, but there's something there. Alright, so I want to hear a little bit about, and you have six years old down to 10 months, and inevitably all of us struggle with this when our phone gets in the way of an important moment or just kind of where we're kind of cognizant of the ways that this is getting our way. Do you have any stories that come to mind of when you realized your phone was just getting in the way of what was most important to you?

Stephanie Blunt (05:53):

Yeah, so I mean, honestly there's so many, but I think the point I really was just very aware of it was after Eleanor was born. So she's our eldest kind of around the time she was about six months or so, maybe even a little earlier, I was a new mom and then Instagram was this big thing that had kind of erupt it. And I just realized, I mean I had been on it for a little bit before that point, but I just realized how much of my time it was consuming. And so I think that was my first indication was it was almost like an escapism in the middle of postpartum anxiety and just being overwhelmed by motherhood. And it was a really hard season and I think that was my escape was being on there and feeling connection and community that I felt was lacking in that season.

But I think what was a turning point for me was when I felt like I was struggling with resentment because I would be trying to finish something, finish a post, finish something, and then there would be an interruption, which there inevitably is, if you have any children ever, there's always interruptions. So I think that was just a heart check for me. Why am I feeling this way? My child is not, she's interrupting me from something that's not as important as she is. Social media, our phones are not as important as our children, but sometimes when we are interrupted while we're on our phones, that is the response that I had to not reflect that.

And if I'm honest, sometimes it still does. It still doesn't. And so that's something I have to continually check being intentional about my phone usage. But I think during that season it was when I was like, okay, things have to change. And so I started trying to put boundaries on my social media, kind of tried to do some breaks during the day, only take it out while she was napping or different things like that. And then honestly, I really struggled with keeping social media in specific boundaries. And so eventually, I think it was 2021 December 21, kind of after, I dunno the first year of all the Covid stuff, or maybe the second year, I guess at this point, I had just heard a podcast challenge about going away from Instagram for a month. And so I was like, alright, we'll do it in December.

That was my last post. And then I kind of dropped it for 2022 and then after January I didn't want to come back. I was almost dread of feeling like I had this freedom. I didn't feel like I had to, I dunno, have all this together, all this stuff together to post. And I dunno, it felt very strange. I can't really explain it, but there was just a lightness that I had felt and I just didn't want to go back to it. So I just didn't. But I was like, I still want to document our family in an intentional way. So I started a newsletter, like a family newsletter. So that's what we do. Yeah, my husband and I, instead of neither of us really use social media, but I'd say outside of, he uses LinkedIn for work occasionally, but we have a newsletter that we put out every month or every month and a half or so. And so that's what we do. I write it all. So I try to create a narrative of our stories and then I use pictures. And so it takes a lot of my time, honestly. But I feel like it has given me that piece of I want to document our family, I want to remember all these things which social media gave, and I want to keep people updated in a way that I can kind of control it. Yes. That's what I do.

Joey Odom (09:46):

I want to go back, I want to hear a little bit about the newsletter. I have some questions on that, but I want to go back to the feeling you mentioned of resentment towards your kids. And this is something that we have heard, this is an encouragement to you and people listening. We've heard that concept again and again and again of this very great moms, intentional moms, like wonderful moms who have said that, who have had the courage to admit that I was feeling resentful towards my kids. And then almost describing, it's like when you feel that resentment, it's almost like you feel bad about that also. And so it kind of goes down this kind of perpetual shame spiral to some degree. Can you relate to that? What was that feeling like of feeling that resentment and then realizing, well, I shouldn't resent an infant, but then I do. But do you know what I mean? What is that like for a mom?

Stephanie Blunt (10:36):

I mean, I think for me specifically, it was coming out of a place of distraction and then being pulled in and then just that tension. I mean, I think there as a mom, your time just changes. All of a sudden it's like you are no longer able to do something, start to finish. So I think there's a lot of things that you can be interrupted from and kind of feel a little resentful or a little like, oh man, I just wish I could finish one thing. Anything really. But I think with technology, with phones, they have an added lure almost where it makes it harder to step away, to put down, it's way easier to put down, I don't know, a magazine or a book or something than it is to put down a phone. For some reason, and this is researched, I'm not coming up with this myself, but there's something about a phone that maybe it's the new amount of information that is going to be coming or I don't know, whatever it is, but it's harder.

And so I think for me, I would struggle with that and I would feel bad, but I also felt kind of trapped again with my lack of boundaries of knowing how to do it. And so that's when I started trying to put the boundaries in. But I think again, I'd say for me, the biggest thing too was I didn't feel like I was able to be present with being on my phone documenting all the time. I mean, it still always is a struggle. And so I think that's why I really appreciate Aro of having something that encourages you to have boundaries in physical boundaries, not just boundaries that you set yourself. They're great, but just having that extra layer, that accountability is super, super helpful.

Joey Odom (12:28):

And then you had to find, and very often, by the way you mentioned this, you said you picked up your phone to connect with others, which makes total sense. That's an isolating period of time for a young mom. So did you have to go then find more intentional ways to go get connection apart from your phone?

Stephanie Blunt (12:45):

Yes, I did. I think, to be honest, I started doing these kind of groups. So it was initially on social media. I was doing Facebook groups and things like that to try to create a crafting crew or different things. But I think I realized that the kinds of relationships that I was creating on social media were very much like a puddle depth of a relationship. What I really was craving was kind of like waist deep, knee deep relationships with other people in my life. And so honestly, something I struggled with when I was on social media was something called compassion fatigue. I dunno if you've ever heard of that, but it just, there's so much going on in all these people's lives that are in your circle. It's like, and for you to care for each one of them, that is impossible. It actually drains you.

So you can't care for the own people in your own life, in your own home. And so I think I was just getting to a place where I was carrying all of these people's things and they were all in my direct life. They were just in my social media feed. And then the people that were in my best friends in my real life, or my husband or my kids in my real life, I didn't have the capacity to extend compassion and care for them because I was already getting spent up. And so I think for me, that's another thing that I felt like relief when I stepped off social media. It was like, I'm going to invest in the people in my real life, in my real circle. I'm not saying that everyone has to be right in the same city or country that I'm in.

I think I can still have intentional connections with people across the world. And I do, one of my best friends is in Australia. I still connect with her, but I don't do it through social media. We do it through writing each other letters or calls or text messages, but it's not the same thing as just seeing her on my feed and me commenting on her pictures. And so I think it's just a difference of relationship. And so I think once I experienced that knee deep, waist deep relationship, I realized I didn't really want the pedal relationship anymore.

Joey Odom (14:56):

Yeah, I love that. And I love the concept of this family of the family newsletter. It requires you to take a lot of time. It's very intentional where you're having some real time to reflect on what's happened. So I'd really love that concept a bunch. I'm going to have to get on the mailing list here. Sure. I am curious, so you were already taking intentional steps, getting off social media, and so I'm curious, how did you intersect with Aro? And then what was it about that where you said, I think I'd like to bring this into our home?

Stephanie Blunt (15:27):

So I think I heard about Aro on a podcast with Justin Whitman Earley. I believe he was on the 1000 hours outside podcast, which is one I follow. And he talked about it and I thought that was such a great concept of creating rhythms of habits around technology. In his books, he talks about different habits of the household, and he has a lot of really great ones that kind of align with intentionality and family dinners and things like that. So that book was really honestly life changing for us. I think there things that a lot was a lot of intentions that we had, but I think naming it, we want this to be solid in our home. It's like, okay, because we've said it out loud, we're going to actually make sure that we're really intentional about it. And it's not just going to be like, okay, this is just going to happen.

It's like, we want to make sure this is part of our culture in our home. And so that's when I first heard about it. And then being in Canada, I was like, let me just see if I can work if we can get it. But it wasn't, I was like, Nope, not yet. So I was like, all right, I got to be patient. But until we're here in the season, so I was like, okay, since we're in Florida, I guess to get it. But yeah, I really like the idea of it, and I really like the way that you have paired it also up with, it's not just about a box, but it's really about intentionality and trying to create these rhythms and the box is there to help you. It is a tool, just like your phone is a tool, but helping you put that tool in its right place and use it at the right times and not let it detract from your life is huge.

And so I really appreciate that. So we've been using it for the last, I think since March, so it hasn't been very long, but I got it for Valentine's Day for my husband. And so we've been using it since then, but we really, really appreciate it and we really have just seen kind of that language of like, okay, let's have some aro time, or let's just have some intentional time, or we do have those rhythms, but kind of having a place where we know this is where our phone could be, even though we don't usually have our phones at the table, but let's put them here. Because I think what has struck me is that even though our kids are so small, they're watching, they're very aware of technology. My 10 month old, like I mentioned, literally picked up an AirPod off my carpet floor and rather than putting it in her mouth, which is she puts everything in her mouth, put it in her ear. Oh wow. Which blew my mind. I was like, she knows what an AirPod is. She knows it belongs in your ear. These kids are literally watching us and we are not aware of how much they can take in. So at 10 months, she already knows that piece of technology goes in this, this is how you use it. Oh

Joey Odom (18:32):

Gosh, that is fascinating. I mean, that is amazing. That's so true. They're just little sponges. They're just soaking up every bit of information. And we talked about this a bunch, what are we normalizing for them? What's normal for them? And I love how you said you don't have phones at the dinner table and all that kind of stuff. So has there been a moment, and you've alluded to some of it, but over the last couple of months as you've been using Aro, has there been a moment, has there's been something that you've noticed, whether it's in your family dynamic or a very specific point in time that you've said, Hey, this looks a little bit different than it did before?

Stephanie Blunt (19:09):

I think honestly, it has, especially after the kids go to sleep, my husband and I have a more awareness of like, Hey, we want to have our phones off. We usually do a check-in after the kids are asleep. But I think it's been easier during longer bedtime sessions, which unfortunately there are those days where bedtime takes a very long time, especially when our three girls sleep in the same room, so it only takes one of them to set up the other one. Of course, usually they really well, but there are those days on those weeks where something is off daylight savings, who knows something is off and it goes crazy and you're like, oh man, okay, I just need to catch up on this stuff. But I think those moments where it's reminding us and we do need to connect and just having the language, but I think what I appreciate with Aro and just having that, again, it's like having that intention of I want to be present, I want to put my phone away.

It's made me more aware of when I have my phone out, when I'm using it, when I'm recording something even I'm like, do I need to be recording this or can I just be present and watch and kind of remember it? Do I need to constantly be documenting? I think it's just kind of giving me this check, which is so helpful. And even a greater awareness. A lot of people are saying, well, now I'm noticing people with their phones out. I think for me, I'm noticing myself. I'm noticing my kids and how they're, like I said, three, four, and five, but they're playing and sometimes they'll have a fake phone in their pockets. They'll take some kind of thing, like a walkie talkie or something and they'll put it in their pocket and they'll walk around playing house with their phone. And I'm like, oh, man, is that me?

Have they seen me with my phone all the time and now this is what they're replicating? And so I think it's given me that greater awareness. We have talked to 'em about this is where our phone goes. You can put this phone in the box, but I think for them right now, the biggest thing I can do is to continue learning to use it and have that boundary for myself because they are aware. We are really good with things like television in Canada. We actually don't have a television in our house, and that was a very intentional thing that we did. And so they know there is time to watch a movie, but we watch usually on a screen on our computer here, we have my parents' TV that we can turn on and we'll have to put on a video. But it's very intentional.

It's not around all the time. It's not on all the time. We literally have to set it up with a video, DVD in DVD player, old school. I know, but we have to set it up to watch something. And so I think that's what I wanted to do with our phones. I'm not saying I don't want to never have a phone, but I'm saying I want to be able to have it special times, intentional times for when it's being used and enjoy and not be in the backgrounds. People could have a TV in the background.

Joey Odom (22:05):

Yeah, I love that. I was thinking for the last question, I am going to kind of adapt, I prepped you with this question on some encouragement or advice for other families, other parents, but I would love if you can think about the young mom, I want to think about you back to yourself when you had a six month old and the feeling of the postpartum anxiety, am I doing this right, wanting to connect, all those feelings happening all around you. What would you say maybe a mom right now is listening who was in your spot? I'm curious, what kind of encouragement or advice would you give to that mom?

Stephanie Blunt (22:41):

Yeah. I think my biggest encouragement, if I could go back and speak to myself in that season, I would say reach out to a person, a mom, and connect with them. Try to do it face to face. It's okay if it's imperfect. It's okay if you're going to get interrupted and you have to feed and it's messy, it's okay. But just the importance of being there face-to-face. Because honestly for me, once I started doing that, it was actually another mom who identified that I had postpartum anxiety. I couldn't see it myself, but it was a mom friend of mine who said, Hey, Steph, some of the things that you're saying, they sound like you're struggling with something. I think you could have this. I think you could have postpartum anxiety. And I honestly had never even heard of postpartum anxiety. At the point I'd heard of postpartum depression, which I was like, I don't think I'm struggling with that.

But I had never really heard about that. I wasn't someone who was naturally anxious until I became a mother, and then I was really struggling with it. So it was just really interesting to me. But having those people in your real life, they can help you so much more. And so I think if I was going to go back, I would say keep pressing into those things. They're harder, but they're worth it. And then also take in the moments with your kiddos. I know everyone tells you they grow up so fast and all that stuff, but I think what I would say is heart is not the same thing as bad that because your season of motherhood is hard does not mean that it's bad, does not mean that you were doing a bad job. It just means that you are going through motherhood, and motherhood is a very hard and challenging and beautiful and refining process where you grow and anything.

My kiddos are all very into nature. Well, if you look at a butterfly and the whole process of metamorphosis, for the butterfly to go into the crystal its and to become a butterfly, it's a very grueling process. And for change to happen, there has to be pain and tension and struggle, but the beauty comes out of that. Becoming a mother is such a beautiful thing. When you press into the heart and say, I'm going to be present even in the heart, I'm not going to escape and I'm going to seek to connect with other moms in my real life and take chances. Like ask the mom to go on a play date. Put yourself out there. Go first. Be vulnerable. I think all those things just have helped me connect with my best mom, friends that I have my life now, and they wouldn't have been there if I wasn't willing to put myself out there and do those things in real life.

Joey Odom (25:24):

Wow. I feel like somebody needed to hear that. I think that message just, you're not alone. Take some chances. I love that. Hard is the hard is not the same thing as bad. What a great encouragement. Stephanie, thank you for giving us your wisdom, your experience, your encouragement, advice. I think there are a lot of people who needed to hear that, and I'm thankful for you. Encouragement is just giving courage. Thank you for giving courage to other people listening out there. Thank you very, very much for joining us.

Stephanie Blunt (25:53):

Thank you.

Joey Odom (25:54):

Hey, thank you for joining us on Voices of Aro. Hey, if you're an AAro 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.