Detox.

This is one of those scary-to-write posts. 

Pondering the range of reactions that you might have, I can imagine that some of you will probably think it is frivolous and silly, wondering what the big deal is.  Some of you might think that I am a terrible parent, and that my generation and our technology are going to be the ruin of all that is sacred.  And some of you will nod your heads fervently in agreement, understanding exactly where my heart is and what I’m trying to accomplish. 

Wherever you are on the spectrum, that’s okay – I understand.  I just feel the need to put this out there – for myself, and for others that might be combatting with similar struggles.


Last week was more than taking a week off from blogging in protest of my lack of Spring Break.

I was in self-appointed detox.

Because I have an addiction.

Addiction: the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming.

I have always enforced the rule that I never blog while my children are awake – that’s what naptimes are for.

However, that rule didn’t stop me from reading my blog comments.  Or checking Facebook.  Or Twitter.  Or my blog stats.  Or my emails.  Or anything else interesting on my phone at any moment.

Thanks to the life-changing device that is the iPhone and an already quite-healthy love of blogging and all that comes with it, I have found myself consumed by social media.

This absolutely can be, and is for me, an addiction.

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Having a phone that can give you any piece of information at any time creates an inability to experience rest, let alone boredom.  If my phone is within reach, I’m constantly, and often without even realizing what I’m doing, checking something.

A commercial comes on… I wonder what’s happening on Facebook?

I pull up to a traffic light… let’s check my email!

Ali wanders off for half a second to find a toy… Ooh! Twitter!

It’s consuming.  It’s habitual.  It’s ever-present.  And it’s not who I want to be.

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time over the past few months analyzing why I do these things, and this is what I have realized: I thrive on words of affirmation, and every virtual touch from another human being is like a tiny little high.

An email – high.

A blog comment – high.

A Facebook like – high.

And then there are the notifications.

Bleep – A Facebook comment!

Tweet – A twitter response!

Ding – A new email!!

As much fun as social media is, it absolutely must take a seat in the back of my priority line.

Because…

I don’t want my kids to grow up with the mental image of their mother looking at a glass rectangle instead of looking at them.

I don’t want them to feel like they have to tweet me to get my attention.

I don’t want them to EVER think that they are less important than what might be going on in someone’s life that has an @ in front of their name.

This is unacceptable.

I’ve tried to change before, but unsuccessfully.  I was too ashamed to admit the extent of my addiction, so it was all on me.  I would set rules and boundaries for myself, only to give them up in a couple day’s time, justifying my need to keep tabs on my email for one reason or another.

At the beginning of the year, I shared my goals with my husband and my small group. And I set a plan in motion.

1. I turned off every notification on my phone, with the exception of phone calls and text messages. I do not need my phone beckoning me and piquing my curiosity every two minutes.

2. I vowed to not pick up my phone in the mornings until after I had my time with God. Reading God’s Word is infinitely more important than reading my Facebook newsfeed or my emails.

3. I agreed to leave my phone in my office every morning from breakfast to lunch, with minimal checking of said phone, and focus only on my children.

But I still had days where I would lapse back into my old habits, especially while we were all sick.

So last week, I decided it was time for a serious detox.

I committed to not touch my phone or my computer from the time that the kids got up in the morning until they went down for naps (with the exception of phone calls or text messages, but even then I vowed to not even so much as peek at my email or any type of social media).  And then when they woke up from their naps, I would do the same until after their bedtime.

And you know what? It actually felt good.

With the rule in place and the fact that I had informed eight people of my commitment, the constant pull wasn’t there.  I felt no pressure to “just handle something really quick”, no urge to “just answer this tweet – it will only take a minute”, and I just lived.

Like, lived IRL-Only.

Like, lived old-fashioned, in a pre-iPhone world.  It felt so vintage and quaint and…relaxingly slow-paced.

Sure, I didn’t get to send out as many tweets or Facebook statuses, and my knowledge of what all of you were doing on a minute-by-minute basis was seriously impaired.

But my knowledge of every single minute of my kid’s lives,

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thoughts,

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expressions,

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and actions

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made it so very much worth it.

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This week, I’m going back to my original plan – minimal checking.  I’m hoping that last week will have helped me distance myself from the “need” to check things constantly, but I know it will still take a conscious effort.

So why not just get rid of my smart phone and get a more archaic phone-call-only device? Because I think it’s deeper than that. I need to deal with the compulsions, not just take away the easiest way to fulfill them.  If it weren’t my phone, then it’d be the computer.  Or Ali’s iPad.  Or any number of other ways to get a “fix”.

What about quitting blogging?  Blogging has plenty of drawbacks, for sure – but it also has great benefits.  Some days I love it, some days I hate it.  But even besides the rich relationships that I enjoy with so many of you, I am leaving a legacy of my children’s lives and a blueprint of who I am for them to one day read – and so it’s worth it to work through my own issues to be able to continue doing that.

And it’s doable – with a little work and a lot of accountability.

A few Saturdays ago, Chris and I took the kids to our local kid’s Science Center.  As I watched our kids blissfully play in each area, I also noticed the other kid’s parents.

Every single one of them was completely engrossed – in whatever was on their cell phone screen.

“Hey Daddy!! Look what I made!!”

Without looking up, “That’s great, honey!”

Every. Single. One.

And I realized – that was me.  That is me.  And it’s not pretty.  I just never noticed what it looked like on other people before, because I was always too busy looking down at my own phone.

But here’s to change.  Here’s to accountability.  Here’s to starting fresh, every day, committed to not losing sight of real life due to the compulsion to share it.

Leave your comment below!

Comments

  1. 1

    so many thoughts here. first: thank you for your honest vulnerability. It’s refreshing. Second, you speak truth that I understand very well. You are absolutely right that it is more than just “staying away from bars” as most people tell alcoholics. Any addiction is a filler, a self-medication. I am self proclaimed affirmation junkie. And I am in recovery. And social media is just a branch on a tree. And a branch grows based on it’s roots. And if my roots are “stress or lack of affirmation” then I have my go to’s: food and social media. Here is the good news for addicts though, there is always grace when you fail. Don’t beat yourself up for days because Christ doesn’t do that. Just acknowledge your need for Him and get back up there. In that order. This is an area that our generation and our kids after us are going to struggle with for years to come. Thanks again for sharing your struggle.

    • 1.1
      Rachel says:

      Yes – thank you for the beautiful reminder of grace! I’m a perfectionist, so that concept is a hard one to get through to myself.

  2. 2
    Leslie says:

    Love it! I will also add this to my list of addictions and it truly is an addiction. On those days when I left my charger at work or can’t find my phone, I go into withdrawal–serious withdrawal. But once I am over that panicky feeling, I feel great. The obsessions and compulsions drawing me to technology is hard to tackle. But one I need to do. So I am going to make a conscious effort to limit my time with the phone and computer when around my kids. Now work–I may let it still distract me there ;) Really great post. I am so glad you wrote it (for selfish reasons).

  3. 3
    Lil says:

    Thanks so much Rachel. I love your blogs, but this is my favorite so far!

  4. 4
    Amy says:

    Thanks so much for your transparency with this. It’s something I struggle with too, and I can’t even remember what I did before I had email and facebook on command. I try to not check it, but there is no doubt that I’m also addicted. If I hear my pinging notification its like I’m one of Pavlov’s dogs. I did really good this weekend about keeping the computer put away, and you know what, I survived and it felt really good to not be checking constantly. I am definitely going to try to devote more face time to my kids rather than face time with my blackberry.

    An aside, but I also wonder what has happened to our society that we are so self absorbed that we think the world actually cares what we are doing 24/7 with our status updates and tweets. How do our kids stand a chance with not thinking the world literally revolves around them, if right now we are thinking the world revolves around us. As if the world would quit spinning if we didn’t “check in” and let people know where we are every waking second. Neither here, nor there, but just a thought.

    • 4.1
      Rachel says:

      It is bizarre how into each other’s lives we all are now, isn’t it? I may not have talked to someone face to face for fifteen years, but yet I find it interesting to see what they ate for breakfast?? No wonder our generation and the one after us doesn’t watch as much TV anymore – we just watch each other! It’s a weird, weird world.

  5. 5
    Kristin says:

    Thank you for this post. I needed this! Even now, I’m hiding in the bathroom to check Fb just once before I leave to take my boys to daycare and head to work. Although that is how I read this post…

    I’ve practically given up talking on the phone when the boys are with me, but social media is something else. Perhaps a detox is in order! Thank you again!

    • 5.1
      Rachel says:

      I totally understand that feeling!! In the attempt to not feel as “addicted”, I also often have quick checks when I’m out of sight.

  6. 6
    Marie says:

    Loved the honesty of this post. It is so easy to look at other parents and think “HELLOOOOO! Pay attention to your kid!” But you’re right, I’m exactly like them. I justify it with the thought that I don’t do it as much, but the act of doing it once is just the same. I have had to put the whole social media thing on the back burner as well. It really is a self control thing (which I have on some days and on some days, not so much). You are so right. I want my kids to remember me giving them my undivided attention and not my face in a phone all the time. Conviction is good, it keeps you on the right track. And time with the Lord first is an absolute necessity. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your transparency. :)

  7. 7
    Michele says:

    Good luck with your detox. You can do it. I’ve had to limit my online time as well. Otherwise, I’d be on here 24/7. And not that it’s unproductive time spent, but I need balance. And clean bathrooms.

    • 7.1
      Rachel says:

      Oh. Clean Bathrooms? I thought that was something that went extinct with the rise of the technologically driven society.

      Dang it. Guess I better go clean ‘em.

  8. 8
    Laura Gallitz says:

    Rachel, this post is just another sign that we are so much alike! I tried giving up Pinterest for Lent, but, alas, its siren call was too much for me to handle. I’ve still not pinned anything, but I’m looking around, and that is as big of a time waster. The saddest part is most of my online activity is at work. Why am I not getting enough positive affirmation at work that I have to seek it elsewhere? Am I really getting enough done at work to be able to think about ways I would spend all the money I’m earning? I didn’t want a smart phone in the first place, but since I’ve gotten it, it is my “dealer” for my addiction, so to speak. I LOVE getting blog comments, and I love posting, and I love being told that my status update is awesome. I should know by now that I am awesome, and I do not need my 320 friends to tell me. After all, they were my friends IRL before they got to read my awesomeness on the internet. I’m that Mom at McWane, who, with a few minutes to sit, decided to see what’s going on. I’m that Mom at the park who has to post a picture of her kid rather than actually interact with her kid. I had to check in at an event last night instead of actually checking in with real people who were there. It is so, so sad. What is the point of that? Am I trying to make other people jealous? That’s not good. Do I get jealous when they’re doing something fabulous? That’s not good, either. I’ll try to follow your lead and make my Bible reading (on my phone, of course) the first thing I read in the morning. After all, if it happened after I went to bed and before I woke up, it probably doesn’t pertain to me.

    • 8.1
      Rachel says:

      I don’t go to a lent-promoting Church, but many still observe it, including my husband for the first time this year. I, however, have always been much too afraid of failing to even try it – so I totally get that! Giving up something for a week is one thing, but 40 days is a long time!! I really do want to participate soon, though – maybe next year.

  9. 9
    Nikki says:

    I’m proud of you for pushing through last week. I know it was hard. We were praying for you, and you were definitely on my heart.

  10. 10
    Jessica says:

    My husband and I have had talks about this. It’s not me though, it’s him. He’s forever staring down at his iPhone and it ticks me right off. Dinner at my parents’ house? He’s on his phone five minutes after we get there. He checks it every five minutes, and it makes me want to kill him.

    (That said, I am guilty of checking my comments/email/facebook about 10 times a day – so I’m working on that : \ )

    Congratulations for realising that it was a problem and determining to do something about it.

  11. 11
    Wendy says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your heart and sharing your vulnerability. So many people suffer in varying degrees, and I think most are unaware of the problem. Personally I think I spend more time on my computer than I probably should. Thank you for giving me something to think about.

    • 11.1
      Rachel says:

      Thanks! I tend to be the overanalytical type, so I’m usually painfully aware of all of my problems. It would be nice every now and then to NOT be aware!!

  12. 12

    Yes! It’s so hard to tear away from that reinforcement and be present! But you are doing the right thing. We had friends over for dinner and they spent the evening (OK, 15 minutes) texting with their adult daughter. One text was necessary – to remind her to pick them up at the airport. But the rest? They were just goofing off. It was really rude.

    I have gotten to where I will not respect someone who is texting or talking on the phone while he is supposed to be with me. If you are visiting my house or we’re at a restaurant and you get a phone call that you HAVE TO TAKE, I am not going to be quiet so you can hear. Go into another room. But your rudeness does not get to inconvenience everyone else.

    I’m sure your children are very happy knowing they have their mother’s attention. Isn’t that the main thing kids want?

  13. 13
    Holly says:

    For my parents generation it was soap operas. For mine it is blogs and social media. There are always distractions from the important things.
    I like that you don’t cut them out altogether, since they are good and useful tools, but instead are trying to put them in their proper places.
    I found this on pinterest yesterday and laughed and repinned because some days it seems like it is so true!
    http://pinterest.com/pin/72550243967252367/

    • 13.1
      Rachel says:

      Very true – if it’s not one thing, it’s another. It’s all in managing the distractions!

      And that Pinterest sign is too true :)

  14. 14
    Tiffany says:

    I pray God continues to give you strength to do it! I am right there with you, I had to give up Facebook for awhile because I was looking at a screen all day instead of my daughter, it is a hard battle to fight but well worth it!

  15. 15
    Nichole says:

    I don’t usually comment but this time I have to. You have no idea what perfect timing this post was for me. I know you ultimately did it for yourself, but I think it is amazing how God is using it to touch so many others. A while back I realized I was addicted to Facebook. It was taking time away from my kids and LOTS of time away from my marriage. My husband was patient with me and helped me see how serious it was. I deleted my Facebook account and never looked back. Until… I got my iPhone. I have been fighting the urge to start a new account. It’s been weighing heavily on my mind because I know what it can potentially lead to. This has come at the Perfect time for me. Thank you for being willing to share your journey with all of us. God Bless You!

    • 15.1
      Rachel says:

      Thank you!! I’m glad it meant something to someone – that was certainly my hope in putting it out there. I completely understand your struggle – everything is just so EASY when you have an iPhone!

  16. 16
    Dawn says:

    I recognize this problem in myself as well. Thanks for your honesty. Setting boundaries around yourself is a good way to approach this issue. Way to go!

    • 16.1
      Rachel says:

      Thanks! Yes, it’s really hard to keep those boundaries by oneself, but setting them AND putting them out there for the world to see – makes it kinda hard to mess up too badly.

  17. 17
    Ashley says:

    I am reading your blog while I have a kitchen counter stacked with groceries needing to be put away…I can’t even unload the ice cream before checking online! It’s a sickness. Thank you for sharing with such transparency. I think I need to go ahead and shut down my computer for the day. If anything, for the ice cream’s sake. ;)

  18. 18
    Chelle says:

    Wow. This is so true. I just got an iPhone on Friday and I had to really really work at not checking it every 5 seconds. I had an opportunity to spend the weekend doing something I love – cross stitch – and I only spent about half the time I wanted to because I couldn’t stay off my new phone. I’m a little afraid of it, actually, because I know it’s going to be one more temptation.

    Remember that AOL “You’ve got Mail!” ding? I was addicted to that when social media was just forming back in the late 90′s and have been fighting it ever since. It’s an uphill battle, because it’s everywhere. “Like” us on Facebook! “Do you play Words With Friends? Send me a game request!” “Instant message – ping!”

    I have way too many blogs I am reading and way too much facebook time with people I don’t even know while I ignore the house and the kids and the things I truly enjoy. I have also been thinking about not blogging anymore and I haven’t ruled that out. I have cut way down on how often I post though. When it starts to make me feel bad, then I have to wonder why I’m doing it.

    It’s like food. If you are a food addict, you still have to eat, right? You can’t get away from the social media world, but we are all becoming those people we get ticked off at in restaurants who won’t pay attention to their kids because something more important is on their phones. (And this happens to me every time my son and I go out to eat – he is constantly checking his phone. So now I don’t go out to eat with him anymore.)

    Balance is probably the answer. I just don’t know how to find it!

    • 18.1
      Rachel says:

      Yes, you are correct – it definitely all started with AOL. Or perhaps before that, Compuserve. And before that, BBS systems – do you remember those? Okay, I’m a bit of a nerd.

      And yes, I’ve considered what it would look like to just completely “drop off of the internet”, but it is virtually impossible, and I don’t think it is the answer. It’s just a matter of learning to control the world that we now find ourselves in.

  19. 19
    Terram says:

    I love this post, especially since it’s something I struggle with and question myself. But I also think that parents have ALWAYS had a lot of distractions and perhaps even with these technological marvels, we spend more one-on-one time with our children than previous generations. My great grandmother, like many or most women of her generation, had 9 kids, and no dishwasher or washing machine. Her days must have been spent almost entirely cleaning, cooking, sewing, gardening (for food, not fun) and nursing babies (probably at the same time). I wonder if she ever had the luxury of relaxing in the yard while her kids played. My grandmothers had fewer kids and a washing machine, but they cooked 3 meals a day from scratch, sewed for the family, hung their clothes out and spend hours each week ironing. The concepts of play dates, baby-and-me classes and children’s museums hadn’t even been invented. Are we really spending less time with our kids, or are we simply filling the child-care hours in a different way? Or am I simply justifying my addiction? Maybe a little of both?

    • 19.1
      Rachel says:

      You really make a good point, and I like your point. We do have a much easier life than those before us – an easier life in which we can fill with more time with our children AND more time pursuing more lazy, self-centered desires. We do a lot more of both, for sure. I guess it’s just a matter of making sure that both are balanced.

    • 19.2

      On the other hand, I know for a fact that my Grandmother (and great grandmother) didn’t do these things in isolation. The children had greater responsibilities from a young age. They were also less isolated from one another (neighbours, family etc).

      I mainly blog to stay connected to the parts of my family that live far away (especially my own parents who live the better part of a week’s journey away). In my grandparents’ time, this intersection would have been only by mail once a month or so. So I’m grateful for this technology, even while I sometimes think the effort is too much. Having read my paternal Grandmother’s diary with similar effort though, I know my daughter will appreciate it!

      Other social media is addictive for me though. I think it’s partly because I feel isolated “IRL”. Partly people here are too busy to get together. Partly it’s exhausting being so different. Online it’s easier to find like-minded folk (and differences are easier to explain and accept because of the geographical / cultural differences). Certainly tricky topic! We put devices away during meals, which helps. I can’t put it away entirely though; I’m self-employed and able to shift my hours so I can do fun things with Elizabeth but my customers need me to respond to them during their work day. So email and VoIP free me so I don’t have to wait by the phone and computer.

      • Terram says:

        You make some great points. I think that what the media calls “helicopter parenting” is a response to raising our children in a more isolated social environment that previous generations have. Kids have fewer siblings, cousins and neighborhood kids to play with, and moms have less of a support group; even our own moms are likely to be working during the day. When my oldest child was born I was so anxious to join a playgroup just so I could make some like-minded friends and talk “mommy talk.” For that same reason, I turned to the internet for interactions like this. Now, a few years later, we have lots of cousins and grandparents nearby, but the adults almost all work and on weekdays I still find myself feeling a little lonely for adult interaction when I’m home alone with my toddler.

      • Rachel says:

        I completely agree – the value of the life-recording we’re doing is absolutely worthwhile – and I too have family out of town that stays feeling connected to our family because of it. I could never give it up for these reasons – it’s just something I have to make sure stays in the right spot of priority in my life.

  20. 20
    Rachel says:

    I think this is a struggle that most people in our generation deal with. This got me thinking about why I am addicted…it’s not for self-affirmation because I definitely don’t have a fan base. Haha:) I think for me it’s the feeling of being in the loop. My whole life I’ve always felt like I’m the last to know, or not quite up to date on stuff, but FB and blogs and apps make me feel like I’m right there with everyone else, knowing stuff the minute it happens. I guess that’s the reason??

    My big problem with my phone is that since my kids see me doing it, they want to do it. Both my girls are constantly asking me “Can I play on your phone? Can I play on the Tablet? Can I play on the computer? Can I watch a movie?” It’s all day long! I get so frustrated that they won’t play with IRL things, but they see me doing it so why wouldn’t they? I have my little rules like no checking my phone during meals, but my husband doesn’t and it drives me crazy. I might have to make one of those places where we drop our phones at the door and don’t check them other than calls or texts.

    Thanks for giving me something to think about. This is a big problem in our house and I’ve let it go long enough. I need to stop worrying about it and do something about it! Thanks for the kick in the pants. :)

    • 20.1
      Rachel says:

      Yes, and our kids are five and under!! Can you imagine when they’re 13? How addicted are they going to be? Best to deal with this now.

  21. 21
    Kristina Franklin says:

    I think about this all the time too!

    • 21.1
      Rachel says:

      I’m certainly glad I’m not the only one!! It’s so easy to get sucked in when they’re babies, because it’s not like they’re talking back or anything. There’s a lot of silence waiting to be filled…

  22. 22
    Elle says:

    Love this post! I struggle with this a lot, too. I have a cup of tea after breakfast in the morning, and the boys know that’s my 15 minutes to check e-mail, read my favorite blogs, etc. But it’s hard not to sneak a peek at other times. I find our days go much better when they know they have my full attention. As they get older, I’ll feel less bad about checking out Twitter for five minutes while they play on the jungle gym. Good for you and welcome back.

    • 22.1
      Rachel says:

      Thank you! yes, I have every day at naptime to do everything I need to do on the computer. That should be enough – I don’t need a million peeks in between!! Now to enforce it, that’s the hard part.

  23. 23
    Donna George says:

    I was also struggling with internet addiction, except it was for facebook games. I would spend HOURS after work playing them, to the point of not even seeing my hubby or child. I finally just had to go cold turkey, delete them from my profile, and wrote a note informing all my FB friends that I would no longer participate. It was the only way I could stop. As an older parent, I know the time we have with our children is limited, and you probably seek adult interaction, which these comments and likes are. So I suggest that you have your own work time set aside (maybe after kids are in bed) and set a timer for replies and responses to all those social media it is easy to be lost in.

    And I totally agree with Amy. Why do we think that the world would end if we aren’t constantly checking in with our tweets and status updates? Is there really someone out there who is relying on you to get your tweet out or else? I purposefully have stayed low-tech with my phone. I can only make calls on it (well, it could text, but it is an old flip phone model, and texting takes too long and I*’d rather talk to real people anyway) and it isn’t very “smart”. But I find myself only needing to look at it if it rings. That means that someone is calling me. Ta-da!! A phone call- probably from hubby, kids, or best friend. Otherwise, It just sits in my purse, battery slowly dying, until I remember to charge it again. I feel so FREE!

    • 23.1
      Rachel says:

      The thought of a non-smart phone is a tempting one, but a frightening one all at once!! I think it’s awesome that you can do it, and it may eventually need to be something I look into.

  24. 24
    Morgan says:

    Love your post! Our church did 21 days of Prayer in January and I gave up facebook, it was so refreshing because I didn’t realize how much I was on there through my phone. I swore I wouldn’t let it take over again at the end of the 21 days of prayer but it slowly has. I’m like you though and DON’T want to be 1 of those people always looking down! Cheers to you, maybe I’ll just start doing the same thing today!

  25. 25
    Tonya says:

    Hi Rachel! Thanks for your honesty. I, too, have this struggle every single day. I struggle to find balance because that is really what this is all about. Last summer I went to Europe for over 2 weeks and I left my phone off the entire time….it was one of the best experiences ever. I felt so much freedom. I didn’t realize how consuming it was until then. It is time for me to have another detox. :)

  26. 26
    Eleanorjane says:

    Thank you for sharing, I think you touched a lot of nerves in various people with this. And very well done for your detox!

    I had a similar issue at work – faaaar too much time wasted on the internet. For me it’s cos I’m feeling lonely and/or like my work isn’t fun/is too difficult. I’m going to be working from home soon, so I think I’ll install a programme to block my fav. sites until after work time. It’s going to be tricky, but hopefully I can stay focussed for most of 7 1/2 hours a day.

    Anyway, thanks again. :)

  27. 27
    Julie says:

    I’ve been taking an unplanned blogging break and I realized during it that I am also what another commenter called “an affirmation junkie”. So much of what you wrote really clicked with me and I’ve been reexamining my “relationship” with my smartphone, my blog and all other virtual media. Not sure what my takeaway will be yet but I think you will only be happy and grateful with the choices you are making now when you look back on it later.

  28. 28

    I don’t even have a smart phone, but I’ve had to choose to leave my laptop closed until after lunch when the bulk of the home school day is over and it’s my work time, otherwise I too am carried off by the time frittering that is the internet.

    Good for you. :)

  29. 29
    Shannon says:

    The first cut is the deepest. :) It will get easier, I promise! Eventually you’ll think “WHY was I so involved with all that nonsense?” and the freedom will taste like candy. :D I gave up cable TV many years ago – mostly because I couldn’t afford it but also I hated that as soon as we walked in the door, the TV went on. And just recently I broke away from an email group of very good friends because I was so compulsive about checking email every 5 minutes (or less).
    I feel a physical sense of relief, and release from a feeling of …obligation.
    So GOOD ON YOU! Keep up the good work – you’ll be sooo glad you stuck with it even though it is so hard. :)

    • 29.1
      Rachel says:

      It’s so true!! Every time we get really into a TV show and can’t wait for the next one to come on, we wonder how we could do without it. But then if we miss an episode or two, we never get around to watching it again. Things are so not as “needed” as they seem.

  30. 30
    Kristi says:

    Sigh. Yes. I’m guilty too. I hate that I do it and my kids deserve better. Even when I shut off everything, they start being super cute and I reach for my camera aka my iPhone because it’s there, it’s simple and it’s at ready. In the mornings it’s even harder because I’m checking and rechecking.
    Thank you for putting yourself out there. For saying what we are all thinking. Nothing is more important than the time we have with our kids. And they deserve our full attention just as we expect theirs.

  31. 31
    Ashley says:

    Hi, just wanted to quickly say thanks and I totally agree. I’m guilty as charged. This is inspiring me to make some changes too! Thanks. :)

  32. 32
    Mommy Boots says:

    You’re not alone. I, too, have come to the harsh realization that I am often more engrossed in my net-life than my real-life. I wrote a post about my own social media detox last year. I’ve fallen back into old habits somewhat… I LIKE social media. I like blogging and tweeting and all of those things. But it IS an addiction. One that’s hard to kick because technology is EVERYWHERE. Thank you for writing this post.

    • 32.1
      Rachel says:

      Exactly – it’s a very likeable addiction, and it’s just so easy to fall into it. Even this week has been hard all over again – just a quick check here and there. But the accountability has definitely helped!

  33. 33
    Robin says:

    http://gratitudesinsite.blogspot.com/

    First time reader. Love this blog post though. I realized my dependency of my phone when my husband left me. I don’t use my phone nearly as much as what it sounds like what you have, but even just the interaction that I was sooo used to on a daily basis, his good morning text, his lunch time phone calls, his calling after work to see if anything needed picking up and those were just from him, and not my text to him and his replies. So when he left, that phone was the most SILENT sound in the world. I joined a support group and purposely made it so that replies went to my email and my phone w0uld get alerted just so that it wouldn’t be SO silent. In time, I got used to it and after I while, I actually found myself FORGETTING about my phone. Walking out of the house without it, forgetting to charge it, it just became a thing that I no longer was so dependent on. Of course it made me mad, when I was out and about and realized I had forgotten to bring it., AGAIN. Also, I frustrated my kids and others who were trying to get a hold of me and me being so used to not having it with me, never thinking to even check my phone at all. I often kept it on vibrate but would leave it in the other room or something and never remember to check it until the end of the night sometimes.

    Now my husband and I are seeing where things “are”, but I am very, very aware of not wanting to get ‘hooked’ back on my phone. I have found I have reverted back to checking my phone first thing when I wake up to see if he has texted me. Ah … such a slippery slope!

    • 33.1
      Rachel says:

      I am so sorry about your husband. I hope that you are able to work things out! I know what you mean about associating your phone with relationships, etc. There are times that I have definitely experienced that as well.

      Best of luck to you!!

  34. 34
    Marty says:

    Good for you!

    Interestingly, I’ve noticed that for me working has actually dramatically changed my habits around my kids at home. I check facebook on my phone during my lunch break at work. When I’m home with my kids, I genuinely want to be WITH my kids (I missed them!!). I also find bringing a camera along and spending the whole time taking pictures *really* helps me at places like the park and museum (where the temptation to sit down and play on the phone is especially high) to stay focused on them.

    • 34.1
      Rachel says:

      I can totally see that. It’s much easier to get lost in the every day, day in day out, than if you don’t get to be with them everyday. I think that’s why Chris struggles less with this than I do.

  35. 35
    Shelly says:

    Like, like, like…it’s a problem we all deal with to some degree, I’m sure. I like the idea of always going to God’s Word first in my day rather than checking F/B, or email. It’s hard, though, for sure!

    • 35.1
      Rachel says:

      Yes definitely! And it’s a problem that can get worse and better depending on the day, week, or month – it’s just something I realize I need to consciously stay on top of.

  36. 36
    Christie says:

    Lovely, thought-provoking post. I, too, struggle with the technology addiction. I also am a part-time freelance writer from home so sometimes I “need” to tend to work-related, but really those things could wait as well. I justify it in my mind that the technology allows me to multi-task, allowing me to do more in less time so that I can be around my kids more but I’m not sure that is the right approach. Your post has inspired me to try to cut-back a little myself. We’ll see if that helps. If not, I may need a detox as well. Thanks for writing.

    • 36.1
      Rachel says:

      Yes, the work stuff is difficult – because it needs to be handled, but then once I have the phone in my hand, it’s so easy to just check a thing or two here and there. Good luck to you!!

  37. 37

    I loved this post! Thank you for sharing–it’s so very important that in this age of social media we make a firm commitment to be conscious of our priorities and live them. Our children will only be small for a few years–thanks for reminding all of us to pay better attention!

    • 37.1
      Rachel says:

      Thank you!! Yes, it goes by way too quickly, and I don’t want to be more enjoying of it when it’s the past than when it’s the present, if that makes sense!

  38. 38
    Rachel says:

    Thank you for your honesty, I often feel the same way and have to force myself back to the present moment and away from my iPhone, book, or whatever else is commanding my attention.

  39. 39
    Alissa says:

    Great post. I see kids getting a lot of the back of their parents head here too. My fear is that someday a kid will get lured away while their parent is engaged in a conversation or webpage on their phone.

    It’s a good reminder to all of us to keep our chins up and to not miss the everyday simple moments with our children.

  40. 40
    Lori T says:

    This is something I definitely struggle with, too. While I don’t have a smart phone or do text messaging, I do sit in front of the computer a lot. I read a quote that hit home; it said, “Things you won’t hear your kids say: I miss seeing my mom look at her computer screen.” Ouch! I need to be better at this. Thanks for the encouragement.

  41. 41
    sarah says:

    Amen! And, knowing the struggle I have with just avoiding the laptop (that sits in the only place we have available, which is the dining room in the center of the house where I pass no less than 1 million times a day) is exactly why I will be one of the last people on the planet to own a smartphone. I know myself all too well. I would be on that thing constantly.

    Just today, I took the laptop outside while the big kids played and the baby napped. I got so engrossed that lunch was 45 minutes later than normal, which added up to meltdowns for everyone (including me!) Nothing good ever happens when mama gets on the computer while kids are awake. I have no self control when it comes to social media. My own personal rules are 1.) no computer when kids are awake and 2.) no computer after 9pm. Otherwise I ignore my children or stay up WAY too late which makes me a terrible mommy the next day.

    • 41.1
      Rachel says:

      Good rules!! I completely understand, and good for you to not have a smartphone!! It really makes it so much easier – you’re never tempted unless you’re at home! I bet you didn’t know how nice that was. :)

  42. 42
    MamaHen says:

    I think you are a very wise woman.

  43. 43
    Angela in Arizona says:

    Such a timely post! I’m trying to set boundaries and also wonder what my children are learning from watching me watching a screen! Plus, I wonder if it’s worse for stay at home moms of young children and babies. Personally, most days the only real adult interaction I get is through Facebook! But boy, a two week trip to Europe sounds like a great way to kick the habit! Thank you for your honesty! We all relate!

  44. 44

    Love, love, love this post. I waited all day to come and leave a comment that would be worthy, but really, it’s just that I love it. :)

  45. 45
    Brandy says:

    I relate to this so much. A huge pet peeve of my husband’s is that I spend way too much time on my iphone or my laptop or the ipad, etc, etc. You’ve inspired me to turn off all of the notifications on my phone!

  46. 46
    Stacey says:

    Thank you for being honest about your addictions as it helps me face mine; I used to read those things called books but now its all about Facebook, or, blogs ( I love your blogs and many others and always check to see who has written a new post!)
    Because of how bad I am with FB I refuse to get on Twitter or Pintrest because I know how badly I would be addicted to them. I don’t get on FB on my phone much but I am always on there playing Wordfeud.
    I had a rule about turning of my computer once my girls came home from school; I did pretty good for a bit but I have slacked on it a so seeing your post here has made me recommit to spending more face time with my girls and not my laptop, thank you!

    • 46.1
      Rachel says:

      I understand!! It’s amazing how quickly social media has changed our world. Facebook has been around for less than a decade, I believe – yet all of us have changed the way we live. It’s got a lot of great points, but also a lot of distressing ones.

  47. 47
    Wade Kwon says:

    I’m proud of you. You are taking steps to curb something that interferes with how you want to live your life.

    As you may recall, I’ve been working with others to help them with their time-consuming habits.

    • 47.1
      Rachel says:

      Thanks, Wade!

      Yes, I’ve read your efforts, and every time I did, I had a nagging feeling in the back of my mind.

      It takes work, but it’s worth it!

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