It is such a huge support to me to connect with mothers and early childhood professionals on-line. I read articles and blog posts and I’m inspired by new ideas, research and real-life examples. I write and am reconnected to my own ideals and beliefs on parenting. I email and chat with other parents and I am supported, knowing that my joys and challenges are understood – that I am not alone in this crazy journey of parenthood. I take action. I change. I continue on this path of becoming a mother.
But, here’s the trap…
I get tired from lack of sleep, this summer cold, my growing list of things to do. I get tired and feel a lack of patience, creativity and balance in my life. Then, all the children go to bed. And my husband falls asleep on the couch. And I escape into Facebook, parenting blogs and email. It is like an endless rabbit hole. One good post leads to thoughts on something I could write for my blog and then there is this email to read and what about searching about this product that could help with this or that and on and on… Meanwhile, my “to do” list is compromised because all these things technologically connected take priority unconsciously.
Support, understanding, and inspiration are so important for me as a mama. And a little escape can also go a long way. But, there is a tipping point when it becomes too much.
There is a ton written on the effects of screen time for children. But, screen time can also have a negative effect on us as adults. (I’m sure I could find a study right now to prove it if I just spent the next 2 hours googling it.) Aside from stealing time away from other important tasks and experiences in life – especially time for our own play (the creative things we do completely out of joy) – I am willing to guess it also has an effect on our sleep, our mood, and our activity level (and therefore our weight.)
So, where is the way out of this rabbit hole?
Here is my action plan:
- Limit or eliminate screen time for children – and this includes your screen time. (And screen time includes not just the computer, but also texting, ipad and all other electronic tools.) Don’t check out with your children by checking in on your email. It is very different for children to have independent play time while you do house work, make dinner or do other active projects than it is for them to play while you sit in front of the computer to work. It is also a true gift to their sense of competency to give them opportunities to participate with household chores (while it is not really helpful to anyone to have them work on the computer with you.) And it is much easier to be available when they need us when we are working with our bodies than when we are lost in our thoughts.
- Be choosey. Read only the blog posts/ articles that really speak to you in the moment. And limit them to one or two at a time so you can really take in the new information and work with it. Journal about how what you read relates to your situation or impacts you. Allow the space and time for the new ideas you are reading about to take action in your own life. Don’t feel guilty or worry you are missing out by skipping over posts. They will be there if you want to read them later.
- Ask for help for specific issues. Email or Facebook message your friends with questions. Find blogs of individuals or groups that you trust to share your parenting struggles. Often if you message the admin of a group, they will respond to you personally and offer suggestions or direct you to other sources of support.
- Turn it off. Instead of just turning off the screen or letting the computer go in standby mode, turn it off completely. You will be much less likely to just “check email real quick” if it means booting the whole thing back up.
- No screen time before bed. This is going to be an especially hard one for me to follow. I have the most time for myself (and by “most”, I often mean “only”) at night when everyone is asleep. So, while I should end this crazy “tired – lack of balance – too much computer” cycle and just GO TO BED, I am so hungry to have some uninterrupted, consolidated work time, as well as some more fun, social, Facebook, email, blog reading time, I lose track of myself and end up staying on the computer until I crash and have to go to bed. What I am going to make an effort to do instead is limit the amount of time I am on the computer at night. Then, spend another hour doing any other kind of activity before bed. Reading a book, journaling (with paper and pen), painting, cleaning the house, crafting, hanging out with my husband (if he hasn’t fallen asleep yet,) taking a bath… there are so many possibilities.
- Take a regular vacation from the computer. My new goal is 1 full day each week – no email, no blogs, no Facebook, no computer whatsoever. We’ll see how that goes. And if it is really great, maybe I will up it to 2 days.
Do you have other ideas of how to use the computer and internet as a tool instead of allowing it to become a time trap? Let me know. I’ll check back in after my little screen free vacation.