Thursday, September 1, 2011

Prairie Mama, Unplugged

You are out with your family having a great time.  You are playing at the park, swimming at the pool, or having a picnic.  Something happens and immediately, you tell your husband,(who is the one with the fancy schmancy phone that allows you to do fun things) "Give me your phone so I can tweet this!".  He does, you tweet it, and then get sucked into the lives of all your friends...and miss parts of yours.


After said event (or anytime you are out of the house) you get home get people settled (or if you are being totally honest, rely on your husband to get them settled) and you sit down to nurse the baby and check email.  Although checking email quickly turns into reading Twitter feed, updating Facebook status, reading blogs and before you know it an hour has passed.

One more...

The kids are getting restless.  There is fighting, you are stressed and don't want to deal with anything anymore.  You walk over to the computer desk sit down and escape.

Sound familiar?  It does to me.

My life was becoming fuzzy around the edges.  I was feeling bad about myself, about my life, about...everything.  I was worried if people weren't responding to me on Twitter.  I was worried about the responses I was getting on Facebook.  I was looking at my numbers far too frequently, and playing with my children far too little.

My kids were competing for my attention with my iPod and the computer.  The baby was starting to cry when he saw me headed to the computer.

I knew something had to change, and quickly.  No baby should be afraid of the computer!

For the last 2 days, I have been offline.

This wasn't easy.  First, there were the logistics of it. With my new job, I had to research and write my posts for the next 2 days.

Also, I had to anticipate anything I might need online (hello maps!) and try to get it taken care of before I shut down.

Tuesday morning dawned and I didn't sit down at the computer.  I got the kids off to school and when I would normally let Libby watch Sesame Street and I would catch up on what happened in the night online, I didn't.

I ate breakfast with my daughter.  I played "family" with her. We read books, played Strawberry Shortcake, snuggled and giggled together.  When the baby woke up, we went up together and played with him, changed his diaper, got him dressed and played some more.

My sister-in-law and her little girls are here visiting with us, so we were able to spend a great day together.  I turned off the computer and tuned in to my little ones.

When the kids were tired and ready to rest, it was hard for me not to sit down and check my email.  Instead, I sat and talked to my sister-in-law.  I read an article in a magazine.  I exercised different parts of my brain. OH! And I folded some laundry and did a few dishes.

When I got the big kids from school, I told my son what I was doing.  He was SO excited.  This is the boy who has always been able to articulate his feelings well.  So there have been several times when he has asked me to stop being on the computer so much.  During the Summer, he and I had a deal that I would only be on the computer when the kids were eating breakfast and lunch.  This worked well...when I did it. 

You see, this is my escape.  This is where I hide when things get too overwhelming in my life.  This is where I run to when I don't want to deal with whatever is going on in my world.  I know this.  I have talked to many a therapist about this at length.  It is something I am cognizant of and something I work hard at changing.

This isn't the first time I have stepped away from the computer.  I have done it when we have gone on vacations and I haven't had access to the internet.  But, it is the first time I have done it when my computer was sitting right there on my desk beckoning me to "come, take a load off and let your mind wander..."

I didn't do it though.  It is Wednesday night now, and all the kids (except the baby who is being  stinker right now) are in bed.

It was hard.  I found that my fingers got itchy to tell you all about the cute things my kids said or did.  I would be lying if I didn't tell you that I wanted to ask Dr. Twitter about my 4 month old's insane amount of spit up.  And if I said that I didn't want to tell you all how cute it was when, right after Libby threw up, she said, "Your yelling made me sick"...well, that would just not be true.

It was hard.  But it was WORTH IT.  The time I had with my family, is time I treasure.  And this will not be the last time I go silent.

I don't have it in me to go silent for weeks or months.  I like to talk too much.  Writing is my therapy and I have many real and virtual friends in this space.  To say I would walk away for an extended amount of time would be unrealisitic.

However, I have been inspired by this time, to take 1 day a week and sign off.  This will be Sundays.  Sunday is our family day.  We don't have friends over to play, we don't watch TV or movies, so it makes sense that Mama doesn't get online.

I am going to play more board games, have more tickle fights, read more books, and be more present.  My kids deserve it and so do I.

Are you inspired by my unplugging?  If so, I want to urge you to take a day or two (or more if you're really brave) and turn off your computer.  I would love to know how it works for you!

This post is part of the Hallmark Life is a Special Occasion Campaign.  I am lucky enough to be blogging for Hallmark the rest of this year about different topics.  This month's theme is inspiration, and I hope to inspire one (or more) of you to unplug from your online world and plug into your real one!
Be sure to head over to Hallmark's site and sign up for their newsletters. Who knows, I might even pop up in one of the newsletters!  Also, at the bottom of the page, you can see all the Hallmark Bloggers and read what everyone has to say.  It is truly inspiring reading!
While I am compensated to write this post, as always the words are all mine and can not be bought.


Nicole said...

You are a fantastic mama! This is actually why I am always hesitant to try any new social networking platforms (or why I neglect the ones I do have accounts for) I get too wrapped up! This is a good reminder though. My kiddos are gone all day. There is no reason I can't stay of the computer after school. Focus on my kiddos more, the screen less. They don't get screen time after school. I shouldn't either!

Love you!

Nikki said...

You spoke right to me. Just a few minutes ago my 2yo asked me to play and I said, "hold on, just a minute" and now he's back to the TV. If I hadn't been reading your post I don't know that I would have even remembered him asking for me to come play. How often does this happen with me only semi-aware?

So thanks for bringing awareness to this problem that I'm sure is common to a lot of us.

PS Seth is so grown up since our signing classes back in the day! I love his glasses, very sharp!

sarajo said...

I did a technology fast yesterday. It felt good to focus on the kids and not what was happening around me, in other parts of the world, or with people I don't know. I think I'll start doing more at home with the kids, then sitting on the couch surfing the net. :D

Elaine A. said...

Um, first off, before I forget to say it, how crazy grown-up does Seth look in those glasses??? Wow!

I totally hear you on this. Sometimes I feel guilty about the time I spend on the computer and I know it's probably too much most days. But like you said, it's my time to unwind and "talk" to my friends.

I think back about what my mom did all day when I was little and I remember we had the television on ALL day (which we don't here, although we do some...) and she watched about 4 soap operas every day. With ME in the room. She also ironed and did laundry and cleaned and cooked most days too.

I try to limit most of my time to after they are in bed, especially now that school has started, etc.

But all this to say that YES! unplugging for a couple or few days is a REALLY good thing and I'm not sure when my next "break" will be but it probably needs to be soon...


Life After Piggie Smalls said...

This has been playing in my mind for a while now. I too can end up spending hours a day glued to my laptop screen or Blackberry, reading Facebook and Twitter feeds, thinking of what I want to post on my blog next, editing photos to upload, etc etc. I blog about how I hate that my baby is growing up so fast, yet here I am on the internet when I could be with him, enjoying all these moments that are passing by so quickly.

Yes, this post has definitely inspired me. Thank you so much for writing it, I was looking forward to seeing how it went for you. I think I might "unplug" this weekend and see how it goes.

Carrie at Tiki Tiki Blog! said...

Kim, I am happy to read how unplugging went for you. I relate.
I think that my day of unplugging offered up a little mourning for me for the times I have not been present.

I don't want my daughter's memories of me to be illuminated by a screen, of her feeling lonely because I am "connecting" with other people.

I am so grateful to have unplugged and learned some lessons.

Enjoy your Sundays.

DAD said...

I totally relate to the escape thing, but not to social media. My drug of escape was TV (especially SCIFI and movies). Well, I've been unplugged now for 5weeks. All I had to do was go on a Church Mission and move to the Philippines.
I haven't missed it one bit. Now I practice my violin, study Tagalog and go with other (younger) full time missionaries and my full time missionary wife to teach the Philipinnos about Jesus' Church restored to the earth and that because of what Jesus did for us, that we have the hope and opportunity to become a forever family. It is WONDERFUL!