During the day, I do not spend long stretches of time on my phone or computer; it is usually just a few minutes here and there. I check my email, Facebook or text messages “real quick.” The problem is, all those few minutes are beginning to add up. I am a social person, and since I began staying at home, I miss the adult interaction that comes with having a job. I miss talking to and seeing people on a regular basis. Sure, I have playdates sometimes, but I spend a large portion of the day having conversations that consist of explaining why we do not put play-doh in mommy’s shoe and which way to slice the bread (Diagonal. Always diagonal). I need a little time each day on my mommy message board or my inbox to see what is going on in the lives of my friends. I enjoy having a text message conversation with my sister in law throughout the day. I have to admit, though: it is becoming too frequent. Something has to change.
Before you start eyerolling me, I am not going all mommy martyr here. I am not giving up the internet for life, nor am I saying anyone else should do anything different. I am sharing my thoughts on how it is affecting me. But I am sure I’m not alone.
I tried something kind of drastic the other day. I turned off both my computer and my phone. It may not be necessary for everyone. It may be that you can tell yourself to not respond to texts or email notifications, and that’s great. Thus far, I have not been able to completely ignore all the dings or buzzes that come from my electronic devices. Even our contributor, Andie, had to delete her Facebook App when she wanted to take a month long hiatus from Facebook. Her results inspired me at the time, but it has taken me nearly three months to do anything about it.
With the exception of making one phone call to a friend for plans to meet at Audubon Zoo, I was disconnected from everything for nearly eight hours. While that does not sound like much, it made a huge impact. My day was pretty normal. My kids did not magically turn into precious little angels because mommy wasn’t distracted, not even for a minute. I still had to wrestle my son to get dressed, one of the kids broke my favorite coffee mug and the house was a disaster before lunchtime. What changed? Me. I was more patient and more present than normal. I didn’t realize the true impact my “social life” was having until I stepped away from it. After only one day, I realized just how much I needed to unplug. During those eight hours, I did not once feel the need to check my phone or see what was happening on Facebook. Again, I do not spend large amounts of time online. It truly is a minute or two here, a minute or three there, but that adds up. Studies are showing that people in my age group check their phone roughly every 10 minutes. While I do not think I am popping online or checking my phone that frequently, it is still far too often.
Since I felt my unplugged day was so much better, yet not drastically different than my regular days, I have decided to stick with it. I now keep my phone off, or in another room, most of the day, and I usually have my computer turned off. I will get online if I need to through the day. If I am making plans for a playdate, or if I have to text something to my husband, I have no problem doing so. I am simply taking active steps to avoid getting online without a real reason. As I have said before, I love the internet and the connections I have made online over the years, so I am not going anywhere. I still catch up with my mommy board friends, my Facebook friends and though my inbox is beyond full, I read important emails. I also see the irony of writing on the internet about not being on the internet. I really do. This post is not to shame anyone (except maybe myself), and it is not to bemoan all things digital. Social media and smartphones are not bad things. The amount of time I was spending checking one device or another, on one social media outlet or another was taking a toll on me, so I made some adjustments. So far, I am thrilled with the decision.