Recently I started reading Hands Free Mama at the recommendation of Instagram. Ladies, if being present and putting your phone away is something you struggle with I recommend this book. I was shocked that I found it at the library a couple of weeks ago but I will say don't bother with a rental. Grab yourself a copy that you can highlight, write in, re-read, dog-ear the pages, etc. You're going to want to have this to reference and a library copy just won't do.
Some of her stories make me cringe. Ignoring your kids because you just want to finish this email. Not letting the kids "help" with something for fear of them doing it wrong or making a mess. Texting while driving. Missing special moments because you're too busy checking out everyone else's special moments. Sounds awful, right?
I found myself relating to more than one of her "awful" stories.
I've been guilty of checking Instagram at a stop light. I've told my kids, "give me one second" so I could finish typing an email. I've chosen to let them stay inside and watch TV so I could write a blog post. I'm guilty of missing moments because I'm too busy taking a picture of "the moment" but instantly posting to Instagram. I'm embarrassed to admit, I've done it all and I've done it too often.
It's so easy to get wrapped up in social media. You have your phone, your iPad, your laptop, making it so convenient. You no longer have to be home to scroll Facebook because it's available at your fingertips even when you're at the zoo. It's fun to see what everyone else is up to and their pretty pictures but at what cost? And when is it too much?
I'll admit it's too much and too often for me. My phone is never too far away and if it is I kind of feel twitchy. Want to talk about a punch in the face? I've been trying to step away from my phone when the kids are awake/around and one day my phone was "far away" from me and Kendall picked it up and brought it to me,"mommy, here's your phone". As if to say, "I can't believe you don't have it in your hand, here you go". It made my heart hurt a lot.
The book doesn't just talk about stepping away from social media, computers and other devices though, it talks about stepping away from this idea of "perfection" which includes, but is not limited to, distractions, to-do lists, and societal pressures.
I can't tell you how many times I've missed out on snuggling up and watching a movie with a big ole bowl of popcorn because I wanted to clean up the kitchen. I've skipped going to the park in order to get stuff crossed off of my never-ending to-do list. They look forward to seeing Jimmy come home because he will take them outside and play silly games.
And I know my kids have amazing, fun-filled, adventurous lives. I know that we do a lot more than some kids get to. Heck I wrote a whole blog post on what an amazing summer they had and how I'll never be able to live it up because it was a nonstop good time. BUT I know I could be better and I don't mean that in a perfectionist way, I mean I could be better because I could be more present. I can quit worrying about the dirty dishes and the toys on the floor and I can snuggle. I can say "to heck with that to-do list today, we're going to the park!". When my kids look back on their childhood I want them to remember ME, not a clean house. I want them to remember the silly games we played, not that mommy was always on her phone/computer.
I'm not airing my "dirty laundry" for head pats, for "but your such a good mom, you're being too hard on yourself". I'm also not sharing this because I want judgement. I know there are other women, moms, out there who are in the same boat. They are consumed by social media just as much as I was. They realize that their priorities are out of whack but they do nothing about it. I've been there and it's a sucky, sucky place to be. My hope is to inspire others to recognize their "faults" and take action. If that means picking up this book today, putting down your phone for even a 10 minute period throughout the day, or throwing your to do list out the window.
I challenge you to take that small step. It will seem silly at first, you won't know what to do with your hands but then it will feel amazing. You'll notice a difference in your family almost immediately and that alone is enough to make you want to do more. We live in a very connected time and with that comes a lot of good but with all good things there comes bad. We just have to figure out how to balance the two and live our lives with purpose. Starting today!