Simplify Your Life: Turn off the Technology

“No more computer!”

Little had just woken up from his nap and was standing in the living room blurry eyed with his wild hair. While he slept, I’d pulled out the laptop and was working on homework and shopping for books on Amazon. I had the laptop out earlier that day too. In fact, I had it out most of the morning. I was behind in one of my classes and was eagerly checking my email every five minutes in the hopes of hearing from our agency director. He spent most of the morning {okay, all of it} entertaining himself while movie after movie played on the TV.

I was drained and bored and decided to let technology lead our day. Unfortunately, it was happening more often than I’d like to admit. Maybe this has happened to you too. Computers and televisions sort of sneak into our lives as moms and take hold when we don’t even notice. A cartoon here, a movie there, a quick email in the morning, a Facebook status update in the afternoon. Soon, we’re relying on these entities for our daily sanity.

My over-reliance on the television probably started when I was on bedrest with Little Bug three years ago. What else was I to do? I read when I could, but often reading would make me nauseous because of the eye strain involved, so I ended up watching hours and hours of television. Part of me hated it, but it was a daily window to the rest of the world outside, so I was also oddly comforted by it. Soon, I believe, I was addicted to it. It’s hard to admit that, but at the same time I know for a fact that I’m not alone. I think today moms are overwhelmed, overworked, and overburdened, so we turn to the comforting glow of the TV and internet to provide us some peace of mind. But really, technology creates more problems than it solves.

And so I landed at a point recently where my two and a half year old wandered out of his room after his nap to find me on the computer, and he yelled at me. I instantly felt terrible. I felt ashamed, humbled, and convicted. And I put it away.

I challenged myself after that to stop getting on the computer during the day. I keep the TV off as much as I can. But you know what? It really isn’t easy. There are days where I have no idea what to do with him! There are days where I take him outside and he doesn’t play, he just wanders around whining and repeating, “Inside, inside, inside…” like some kind of tiny zombie. Days where I try to do an art activity and it explodes in one big FAIL. I guess on days like that I can justify turning on the TV, but I still keep the computer away so we can enjoy whatever we’re watching together instead of me checking out while the movie babysits him.

To a certain extent, though, I think he needs to get used to the TV being off more often as well. I think for all of his scolding, he’s reliant on the tube too. It’s my fault, of course, because I often would leave it on in the background throughout the day even if we weren’t watching just to provide some background noise. He’s catching onto the idea more and more though.

It’s been a month or so since I resolved to keep the TV off more, keep the laptop put away throughout the day, and to play more together. In that time, I’ve watched his imagination blossom beautifully. We’ll sit in his floor and he’ll say, “Shh… What’s that sound?” I’ll play along and get very quiet, and he’ll say, “It’s dragon!” I love just watching him play and be little and flex his imagination. I love being little again too. I love making forts, pretending to be frogs, listening for dragons, hiding from the dog, and yelling as loud as I can. I’m glad I had this wake-up call while he’s still itty bitty. Otherwise I know I would regret it forever.

Do I still have days where I’m bored and have no clue what to do with him? Absolutely! But I’m getting together more and more with some of the sweet ladies who live around here for play dates. He asks more often for his friends, which lets me know I’m doing something good. If all else fails, we’ll go on walks or color together. I’m trying to boost my arts and craft supplies and my own imagination as well. I’m learning that bath time doesn’t have to happen at a set time of day if it makes him happy and kills 20 minutes of time. And sometimes he’ll just ask to ride in the car, so we’ll go to the car and just drive around our sleepy little town while singing along with a silly song CD together. Hey, we’re out of the house and we aren’t wasting away in front of the television!

I was hesitant to write this post, but I felt it was necessary. I’m ashamed of myself that my two year old had to give me a wake up call to say that I’m spending way too much time online or in front of the TV. But I’m so grateful he did. Life has been more peaceful around here. I find myself more patient with him and happier with myself in general. I don’t have nearly as many sleepless nights feeling guilty or shameful about the day we had.

I would encourage any of you to turn off the TV. Try just one day with no television, or limited television. Instead, turn on the radio, the iHome, a silly songs CD, a book on tape, or put on some classical records. Go outside and play. Go for a walk or a peaceful drive. Call up a friend {or someone you barely know} and set up a play date. It’s only uncomfortable for the first few minutes you’re together, but I’ve found that once you get over the awkward newness of meeting new moms, you become fast friends and really grow to rely on one another.

Do something bold. Disconnect from things, and reconnect with other people. You won’t regret it.

Happy Simple Sunday!

Kat

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8 Comments

Filed under Simplify Your Life

8 responses to “Simplify Your Life: Turn off the Technology

  1. Thank you for your honesty…because honestly that’s exactly what our lives look like too often than not. But, the more we turn things off and be together the better. Thanks for reminding me of that. 🙂 Hey and maybe just to help hold us all accountable (and away from the tv and before the weather turns again) we should meet up at the park sometime this week??

    • I’m so glad your house looks like that too! It’s easy to get bogged down in my own guilty feelings and think, “I bet Meghan or Carole never ignore their kids!” I’m actually relieved that I’m not alone.

      I think going to the park this week is a great idea! It looks like Monday and Tuesday are going to be the two nicest days this week. We could go one of those mornings. I certainly like the idea of making it an effort to get together with other moms at least once a week, rotating houses of course. We have lived here way too long without getting together with others, and now that we’re doing it more often I love it. I didn’t realize how badly I needed the interaction or the break!

  2. this is a double edged sword for me. I do a really good job of limiting or having tv/computer off until Tigger is asleep…then I overload on computer time after she’s in bed. I should even it out to include time for reading/scrapbooking/shredding/baking!

    • Haha, I wouldn’t worry as much about it if she’s asleep. I do overload on it when he’s asleep too though. I need to find a better balance too. For now, I’m just trying to limit it when he’s awake and I’ll worry about my own time spent online when I get that part under control.

  3. Great post! Why not try unplugging for a day (or even a few hours) on Sunday, Oct. 2. That’s when Unplug and Reconnect (www.unplugreconnect.com) is sponsoring Day to Disconnect. The goal is to get people around the world to pledge 1 million unplugging hours on that one day.

  4. Great – hope you’ll do it. Just go to http://www.unplugreconnect.com and pledge how ever many hours you can devote to unplugging!

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