This summer I read the book Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford, and it related perfectly to a change my husband and I are currently making in our home for our family. To quote Stafford’s motto, “Letting go…to grasp what matters.” We’re on a mission to disconnect from our phones, social media, and the internet more often in order to be truly present for our family in return.
We don’t want to ban all screens (and really we couldn’t with the work we do), but we want to make the time we spend on them count so that the rest of our days are filled with eye contact, new memories, and intentional living.
It’s eye-opening to compare my past self to my present self in this area. (spoiler alert: one of those selves has a much more fulfilling life)
Four years ago I was running a healthy living blog in which I published posts 5-7 days a week (all written by me) and participated in every social media app I could get to. I posted multiple times every day, and even though I was working full-time at “my real job,” the rest of each day was always spent with my eyes on a screen – writing, responding, photographing, editing, posting, commenting, promoting, etc. While I enjoyed that adventure and learned a lot through that sort of work, there’s no doubt it took a toll on my life (especially my *real life* relationships). It’s hard to even imagine living that lifestyle now.
Two years ago, when my first son was born, my life drastically changed (as all of us mothers know well). Not only was my day-to-day schedule wildly different, but my personal priorities shifted as well. What was truly important in life became clearer and clearer. And, unsurprisingly, what mattered most to me no longer included sharing all about my life to “the whole world” online. Thus began the process. I slowly started to rein it all in, second guessing posting photos of my son and having a longing to create a more private life for myself and my family.
I made the difficult choice to end my blog, I shared less on social media, and I’ve noticed how it’s started to positively influence me, especially when it comes to my identity and confidence.
My husband recently joined me in this desire to truly be present. Of course, with the world we live in and the work each of us does, we don’t view the internet or social media as all wrong (clearly), and it’s really kind of impossible to avoid all together (nor would we want that), but we’re slowly finding a better balance. The process is far from over, but it’s rewarding to see the changes that have already taken place.
At two years old, our son wants to do what we’re doing. Monkey see, monkey do. And while he definitely sees us on our phones for one reason or another, we’ve noticed a dramatic difference in his behavior and our own contentment when our phones are put completely out of reach.
We’re not perfect at this, and we’re not quite where we hope to be yet, but as is life. Our Instagram accounts are private and more intentional, and our Facebook pages are quieter than they used to be. We ‘follow’ and ‘friend’ only those we’re actually interested in keeping up with, and it’s brought to focus just where our priorities need to be. Our evenings – dinner and bedtime when Daddy is done working – have filled with greater discussion, laughter, and entertainment-no phones.
I don’t want to look up from my phone one day and realize I forgot to actually play with, read to, observe, teach, and get to know just who my children are. I don’t want to miss out on their childhood because I’m too busy sharing more selfies or scrolling through my newsfeed for the 13th time that day. I want to demonstrate a healthy balance, and I want to teach him (legitimately show him) how to live life.