The other morning my kids all piled in our bed. They’re in rare form in the morning, like their batteries got overcharged overnight and they’re shaking off the excess energy. They started doing imitations of everyone we know, parodying people’s quirks, including their own, and they had me and my husband in stitches as they jumped about and paraded around theatrically. Then they did us. Thumb-tapping on invisible smart phones. Taking calls. Thumb-tapping again. I felt like I had been cast as Mr. Business in The Lego Movie. We gave courtesy laughs but glanced at each other sheepishly.

Okay, so we all need to cut down on the phone use in front of our kids. We KNOW that. We are the first generation of parents to have our emails, watches, messages, phones, calendars and internet all packed into our pocket.

Occasionally I find myself giving my kids a defensive “perspective talk” on the benefits of my smart phone: “If I didn’t have my phone, I wouldn’t BE here at the playground with you right now. I’d be at home in the kitchen, filling out registration forms for soccer, at the grocery store buying all the stuff I just clicked on Instacart, or at the office, writing this blog post. The phone gives me the freedom to be with YOU!” And of course, I love the fact that we can summon the new song from The Greatest Showman with one click and have it blasting in the car a moment later. Or that we can huddle around the kitchen counter and laugh at Rhett and Link eating the world’s hottest chili pepper on Good Mythical Morning while waiting on dinner to cook.

But that ridiculous imitation of me did prompt me to tweak my thumb-tapping ways — and I’m so glad it did!

Here are three simple changes I made that have already made a huge difference in our family:

Charging my phone in a remote room

When I charge somewhere other than the kitchen or living room, I find myself forgetting about my phone for hours on end. When I finally pick it up, I’ve never missed anything pressing, and my world usually hasn’t collapsed due to my absence or lack of availability.

No phones during mealtimes

Studies show that even the presence of a smart phone shortens our attention span and ability to connect with those around us. Picture everything the phone contains swirling around your head at the dinner table — political gaffes in the news, cookbook recipes, school notifications, small talk from friends, photos of your aunt’s new haircut and your hairdresser’s new puppy. How could you possibly focus on your family with this motley crew all talking to you at once?

No phones on date night

Aside from the occasional check-in with the babysitter, my husband and I have started banishing our devices from our date nights- and we LOVE it. This goes for dates with my kids too! Now they’ll have to come up with something else to parody besides my phone use. I’m sure that won’t be hard.