Time for a digital detox?

I have a confession to make. And I’m pretty sure it won’t particularly surprise anyone….

I have been spending more time than ever on my laptop of late and sometimes this means I am neglecting my meditation practice (and my husband). There I’ve said it. It’s out there and the guilt can start to dissipate soon (hopefully).  I am loving blogging about mindfulness, and also reading all the online articles that I am discovering BUT I don’t want it to get in the way of actually BEING mindful. I’ve always lackededdie discipline on my phone anyway and now with the laptop vying for my attention too, how do I rectify the situation?

So, the dilemma. Should I ban the smartphone from my life altogether like Eddie Redmayne reportedly has and move away from the laptop or is there a middle way?

The problem is I, like anyone reading this I’m guessing, use my phone for all sorts of beneficial things that undeniably make life sooooo much easier.

Mummy-Guilt-Header

My first smartphone was belatedly purchased in 2012 (I was being a Luddite and trying to resist the trend so was fairly late to the party) and so our firstborn was already a toddler. I kicked myself that I had done all those night time wake ups without the company of a phone by my side. However, I have since kicked myself for not enjoying the night time feeds and snuggles so much with nos. 2 and 3 because I was too busy ‘multi-tasking’ – reading the numerous articles that I had saved to read from my Facebook feed throughout the day. Moments of classic Mummy Guilt.

Apart from keeping me company in the middle of the night (not very mindful parenting I know but please don’t judge me – it stops me muttering FFS quite so much…) my phone, in no particular order, is great for:

  • Recording (or attempting to record) ‘magical’ family moments
  • Keeping up to date with the news – it’s the only way I can hope to attempt to read newspaper articles these days
  • Arranging mine and the children’s social lives via text message, whatsapp, messenger or email
  • Virtually ‘chatting’ with friends
  • Keeping up to date with friend’s lives (and their children’s) via Facebook (or just being plain nosey)
  • Doing the weekly food shop (this app is a lifesaver – a trip to the supermarket for my three is now a novel activity not a chore to be endured)
  • Paying any bills, transferring money and generally attempting to have some knowledge of our financial situation via the banking appphone
  • Buying parking permits for visitors (though it feels very rude that I’m standing there on my phone interrogating them about the details of their vehicles before they even step into the house)
  • Buying anything from baby essentials to must-have toys to Birthday pressies from that well known online retailer who we all hate but who makes it too easy to buy from them
  • Ensuring we don’t get lost when out and about via the maps app
  • Keeping my shopping list up-to-date in the notes section
  • Checking the weather and making the necessary changes to arrangements as and when
  • Having an impromptu disco wherever we may be by listening to the music on itunes or on youtube
  • Keeping a track of the (meagre) distances I run whenever I can squeeze exercise into my day
  • Decluttering the home by selling secondhand stuff on the local mum’s sites
  • Booking my beloved pilates classes
  • Googling random question from the children like the one tonight – what’s the biggest octopus in the world?!
  • Using a white noise app in a last ditch attempt to get the kids to sleep…
  • And last but not least entertaining the children in an emergency situation.

cbeebies

 

Phew….see we do get an awful LOT from these little gadgets (at least I don’t use it as an alarm clock – mobiles are banned from the bedroom in our house and I have three children for the purpose of waking me up anyway) and so therefore, in line with mindfulness, I feel lots of gratitude for being in a position to be able to have this device in my back pocket most of the time and apparently this is a healthy perspective to take. As a recent Mindful article put it:

‘Marvelling at our modern-day experience rather than being numbed by it can make us happier and more productive at work and in life’

However, there is no doubt that these devices cause me to waste A LOT of time if I’m not careful. For instance, I’m sure I’m not the only one who, before I know it, is scrolling down my newsfeed on Facebook when I had just meant to be quickly adding something to my shopping list.  And of course we have to be wary of using the screens when the kids are around. Children’s behaviour is known to deteriorate the more they see their parents on their phones and all three of my children want the gadget as soon as they see me on it (even if I am just checking the weather forecast quickly) so it goes without saying that then quarrels (and usually hair pulling) ensue.

In fact my phone actually turns my children into pickpockets and computer hacks; the oldest has worked out my passcode without me ever telling him it and the youngest two are always sneaking up and trying to ‘snatch’ the device from the back pocket where it is unoriginally and usually kept.

So is there a happy medium? In an ideal world I would like to keep the aforementioned benefits of the phone without using it to ‘zone out’ or having it negatively affect the tots. I suppose the answer has to be to use it mindfully…but what exactly does this mean?

I’m trying to embrace some of the suggestions in this recent article so have ended up:

  • Hiding my phone in the spice cupboard (out of sight, out of mind and all that – from me and the children, there’s no fear of me being that adventurous in the day with the cooking!)
  • Deleting the Facebook app from my phone when I have been glutting on it just TOO much in a particular week
  • Having a FULL digital detox on an odd weekend (don’t be fooled if I still appear to be ‘posting’ on facebook you can schedule these – genius!) – I may try and up the frequency of these detoxes and routinely do them on the first weekend ophonef every month. Feel free to join me. I find it a good idea to ‘announce’ this on Facebook so you don’t need to worry that people think you are ignoring them all weekend.
  • Start to remind friends and family of your landline number, and try to collect their numbers in a good old fashioned address book so you can still have REAL chats even when you are trying to complete a digital detox.

I have to say I am still nowhere near cracking the issues of living with so many screens in the 21st century  and will be trying out this suggested social media mindfulness practice soon to see if this can help. As the article states:

‘examining and changing our own relationship to technology opens the door for us teach through example and to practice new ways of making technology foster community and wellness’.

Any other tips would be very welcome indeed.  So if you have any to share you know how to get hold of me… Facebook, Twitter, Messenger, Whatsapp, Gmail……..

A Mum Track Mind

17 Comments

  1. Ms R Jary
    March 18, 2016 / 10:29 am

    Isn’t the main thing just to concentrate on the here and now. Normally when you reach for you phone it’s because you’re thinking about something or someone who isn’t involved in what you’re doing at the moment, so if you immerse yourself in what you’re doing then the phone won’t be a distraction. But then obviosuly it is important to think of others who aren’t with you right now so I’m not sure how that fits with what I just said. I’ve just arrived somewhere early and my two are fast asleep in the car. I can hear the birds, see the view and am happy to spend a few minutes reading and thinking about your blog!

    • March 20, 2016 / 11:06 pm

      Good points Becky – it is definitely about immersing oneself in the here and now. However, it’s just when the here and now is sorting out some boring personal admin (which can now be done on a device) it’s also too easy to have a ‘quick look’ at social media too and before you know it 20 mins has gone by – or is that just me?!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog and leave valuable and thoughtful feedback x

  2. Ms R Jary
    March 18, 2016 / 10:30 am

    PS. I’m also now going to call my mum who I’ve ignored all week.

  3. March 24, 2016 / 2:38 pm

    Agree with everything you’ve said. I need to start talking to real human beings! Although my facebook app has never had a tantrum which is always a plus.

    • March 24, 2016 / 2:50 pm

      Ha ha – yes at least the IPhone doesn’t answer back! Thanks for taking the time to read the blog x

  4. Katrina
    April 6, 2016 / 2:12 pm

    Thank you for this great post! It really got me thinking…. It seems like, whilst multitasking has always been a mother’s (or parent’s) default mode, with all the digital additions it might be taking it all to another level.
    Feeling under pressure to cope with all the demands made on mums, their own inner critic constantly adding to the sense of not doing enough, being enough or offering enough, is now being heightened by trying to keep up with newsfeeds!
    And then they tell you to ‘be in the moment’ which may just add to the feeling of being inadequate.
    I am in no way an expert on mindfulness but I am intrigued by it. Maybe the first thing to remember is that it’s a practice, something that takes time to really develop one step at a time, or one mindful moment at a time.
    As I understand it, Multitasking is the polar opposite of Mindfulness. Our mobile devices are great to get things done in a few clicks or plan the route for the day out or check the weather before heading anywhere in the first place. From that point of view it’s a great help for busy mums. However, from a mindfulness point of view they become an issue as soon as we use them without purpose and let them distract ourselves from the moment. It seems those two different functions can get the better of us.
    For any new habit to take shape, being aware of our thoughts and actions is key, as observation but without judgement (which is often the most difficult part!).
    Only then can we decide what we would like to do differently, why and how.
    So if the games and social media apps divert us from being mindful but the device is really helpful through other functions then deleting those apps might be a way to wean ourselves of the first without having to give up the latter. And instead have mindful social media time, maybe when the kids are at school or asleep, where we can indulge in the posts and links and clicks with joy instead of guilt. I often have my phone on silent and just check it once in a while. I feel more in control that way and don’t let its notifications distract me. But I might try your trick of hiding my phone in the spice cupboard! I’d never come across it! :’D

  5. April 6, 2016 / 7:28 pm

    Hi Katrina, thanks so much for leaving such a thoughtful response to my post. I agree that ensuring our use of these electronic devices is purposeful is the key to not letting them get the better of us and also think designated social media time is the way forward. Thanks again for commenting. x

  6. Clare
    April 21, 2016 / 3:56 pm

    A very interesting article, thank you. I may well join you in going ‘screen free’ for the odd weekend…

    • April 22, 2016 / 8:38 pm

      Ok Clare – that’s a deal! Thanks for taking time to comment and pleased you found the article interesting. x

  7. September 10, 2016 / 8:43 am

    It’s a standing joke in our house that when my husband first mentioned wanting an iPhone many years ago I said ‘what do you want one of them for ?!’ Hahha. I am definitely addicted to mine. It’s quite shameful. I need to get on some of your tips – #fortheloveofblog

    • September 18, 2016 / 9:36 pm

      Haha – they are easy to be addicted to! I resisted for years and now am hooked! xx

  8. September 16, 2016 / 11:25 pm

    It’s terrible isn’t it. How on earth did we manage/survive without then 5 years ago. I am so bad for always being on my phone, whether for blogging or working, or catching up with friends. I’m in the middle of nowhere this weekend and still have a my right arm stuck to my phone. I like your traditional ways of thinking I wold love to go back to using a landlines more. Thanks so much for linking up at #fortheloveofblog. Claire x

    • September 18, 2016 / 9:32 pm

      I know the landline rarely gets used here now!! I hope you’ve had a lovely time away. Thanks for commenting. xx

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