So for the first time in a long time I am reading some new books outside the parenting genre. I recently joined a small group of women reading 7 an experimental mutiny against excess by Jen Hatmaker. I’m pretty open about my story and how I got started as a sleep coach, but I don’t usually share my personal “stuff” per say. But as I am going into month 5, I can’t help but share how life changing this book and experiment has been.
In a nutshell, Jen shares her journey about how there is excess time, money and energy wasted in regards to food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress. Each month the group of women and I, commits to how we will focus on eliminating these excess areas for 21 days with 7 days of reflection. Ultimately it is about sacrificing and being obedient to the Lord. It’s about taking care of the world we live in rather than just consuming. I have to tell you, this journey has been EYE opening. I think the reason I feel so compelled to finally share this with you is that it really hit a nerve for me this last month with media.
I’m a big fan of practice what you preach. Since my mission is creating healthy habits for a healthy future, it shouldn’t be just for kids, it should be for me too! Although my kids were finally good sleepers, I personally wasn’t the best sleeper when I first started sleep coaching. As I continued, I worked to improve my habits to get on the path to wellness and now enjoy the benefits of being well rested.
Here’s what I found so convicting to me that Brandon Hatmaker shares in the media summary,
“Media has changed the way we interact with one another and what we spend our time doing. We are being held at gunpoint by our technological expectations.
The dangerous part of our social media technologically saturated world is not it’s existence, but what is distracts us from.”
Well, here it happens again- I talk about a LOT about being connected with your family and making time for your kids. And I feel like I do a pretty good job of it, most days, which has been even better since I let go of being the Super Mom, I’ll share more about that in another post.
But all of sudden, I didn’t realize how many connections I’m making via social media and how much I like being in the know and seeing what’s going on and building relationships there too.
What I found I was doing was I was taking pictures of my kids and then posting them to social media world. While posting a picture, I’d check in and see what’s happening on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, read a post, check my email, click a link, read a blog, or 2, or 3… and all of a sudden I’ve digressed from the quick -just posting a picture.
Since I don’t spend a ton of time watching TV in general, this month I committed to having scheduled and designated screen times during the day and in the evening, including my smart phone during my first 21 days. At first it didn’t seem like a stretch because I thought, well I already kind of do this. I’m not addicted to screen time and I spend a lot of my time with my family.
But the most eye opening thing that happened, was that I was craving my phone. I needed more screen time then I thought, or did I? And I wasn’t spending the time with my family or friends that I thought I was. Those brief moments after I had connected with my kids, and they were good and I had a minute or two- I really wanted to check my notifications, my email, what’s going on with everyone on Facebook? And I guess in those little moments through out the day, I never realized how much I REALLY checked my phone, heard the notifications sound go off, got side tracked, and would find a minute here, and there and taking away that precious time with my family.
I also observed while I was driving how at every red light or stop I would check my phone. When I stopped and actually put my phone in my purse, out of reach, I noticed that all the drivers around me are just quickly checking in on their smartphones too. Is it really that important? Are we really going to miss something?
Needless to say, this month was a huge struggle and I found myself wanting to cheat quite a bit. My habit: phone in hand, scroll, and connect. I realized this was a terrible habit I formed. I think now after some time reflecting, I’m trying to figure out gentle ways to ease my screen addiction to the phone and computer. I’m realizing that I don’t have to have the phone in my hand, and that I do not have to attend to every notification so quickly.I came to the realization that we live in a pretty plugged in and connected kind of world. It’s a blessing to be in touch with family, friends and so many of you, where ever you are, but oh my gosh are we addicted. It’s hard to believe that in history people did life without smart phones and all the social technologies available to them.
I think the most important lesson for me was the awareness of technology, screens, and the role it plays in our lives. I’m not saying media, technology are bad and evil in the world; surely there is great need and purpose for it. But I’m saying we don’t realize what habits we are forming because of the technological world we live in with a quick fix in mind or a quick response. I think like with everything in life, everything in moderation. Too much of anything can be dangerous or become consuming.
I don’t want my boys to look up from their play and remember me as the Mom that was connecting with her kids, but hopping on the screen or talking to them from behind my laptop or phone. I want to get on the floor and play. Be in the moment rather than always capturing that moment, and just be present. When they get of the age to have their own phone, I don’t want them to just be connected to their screen, but to their family and friends in real life, in real moments.
Here’s what I do to have connected time with my boys. These are some easy steps to be intentional, connect and be present with your little one no matter how old they are:
- Make special time, a time in, connected time (whatever you call it) a priority everyday, 7 days a week.
- Create a 10-30 minute time frame in your day to do what your child wants to do or play. (The time will vary depending on the number of children you have and your schedule- don’t make your busy schedule an excuse)
- Turn off your phone, TV, screens and notifications so you have no distractions.
- During silent or sweet moments that your child is leading all the play and you are asked to just watch- take in the wonder and excitement your child is sharing with you and JUST BE PRESENT!
- Start with 1-2 times a day like once in the morning and evening. As you practice gradually increase these special times in your day to 3 or more times a day!
Because I’m an over achiever sometimes, I’d like to say that I would do a redo of this month, but instead I’m forgiving myself for this habit I created and working to make some positive changes. I’m committing to my scheduled work/ screen times and I’m turning off the notifications and plugging in with my kids while I get to see them growing, learning, and watching me. Because of course we are all in the parenting journey and we’ll be leaving a legacy!
Have you discovered a bad habit you have, that you want to change?
Photo credit: flikr magnusfranklin