Not long ago, I wrote about my plan to go internet-free for a week.
Those of you who were paying attention may have noticed that I did not make the week. By Tuesday night, as I monitored election results — and particularly the outcome of the vote on the infamous NC Amendment One — I had to go on Facebook and hear the buzz. I needed a fix of connection and commiseration. Truth be told, even before Tuesday, I hadn’t gone completely cold turkey on my little internet/ phone habits. But I had cut down — a lot. And it was good. Very quickly I discovered that the less time I spent holding, looking at, checking my phone, the less time I thought about or wanted to hold, look at, or check my phone. Same with Facebook and reading news headlines and keeping up with Words with Friends.
During the few days that I was most strict about my phone/ internet moratorium, I noticed that I got more done and did more things. Instead of taking a little energy-sucking break as soon as I walked in the door to look at my phone and see if I’d gotten any email messages since I left work, I would do a quick chore that would have otherwise been put off and weighed on me later. I read and wrote more. My internet hiatus encompassed a fine spring weekend, which included our first visit of the season to Tweetsie Railroad, the first Saturday morning Farmer’s Market, our first day of working in the garden, and my first bike ride of 2012 (ouch!). Would I still have done all those things if I had been distracted by the internet? Probably. But I do think my head was clearer and my energy level higher than usual as a result of my disciplined and conscious effort to change things around.
Maybe that’s ultimately the lesson for me. Switch things up; break old habits. Ritual is good, but change can be wonderfully refreshing. If it’s not fun anymore, or if you feel guilty or uncomfortable about it, don’t do it. Surely, a worthy motto for parenting, as well as many other things. So, yeah, I’m back online, but I’ve made some modifications that I think I can stick with for the future, and I feel good about that.
Not long after I went back on Facebook, I saw a link to this blog post about going “hands free” as a parent — i.e. being engaged with your kids instead of your devices, “letting go of distractions to grasp what really matters”. Good stuff.
Bye for now. Coming soon: End of year wrap up and “Summer: Paradise or Purgatory?” : )
Mother’s Day addendum: I really like this Hands Free Mama post, too — “Six Words You Should Say Today” — about how when we say too much, we dilute the message of love and approval we mean to give our children. I am definitely one of those “wordy” parents. Yesterday, while I watched from below as Zander took the high road back to the house up and over the pasture on his mountain bike, I thought about how impressed I was at his growing confidence and skill on his bike, but the message that came through — the one I needed to say to him, was “I love watching you ride your bike!” I will be trying that more this summer.