This morning I read a blog post from Adventures In Mommyhood: Mommy Outnumbered that really resonated with me. Entitled “Popcorn Brain”, the author Christy writes beautifully and honestly about how her uses of the internet and smartphones are negatively affecting her parenting, and how these things are actual addictions for many of us.
Christy, I’m right there with you.
My name is Imogen, and I am an iPhone addict. My iPhone is with me 24/7. I struggle not to repeatedly check or update my Facebook, Twitter, email and myfitnesspal every half an hour. I can often be found ferverently huddled over my iPhone, guiltily snatching 5 minutes between chores to scroll through my news feed. I will often let Monkey watch more TV than I am comfortable with, so that I can snatch some blog-reading time.
The laptop is a similar addictive substance. Being a WAHM, I do need to spend a little time on the computer every day – maintaining the blog, writing posts, and looking for freelancing work – the problem lies when I end up spending 20 minutes on that, and then aimlessly surfing the net for another hour whilst my kids watch TV, climb all over me or repeatedly ask me to do stuff for them.
Yeah, I know. I sound like a crap mum, don’t I? But I’ll bet that 80% or more of the people reading this do the same on a regular basis. And, according to this article on CNN, the overuse of smartphones activates the dopamine cells in one of the main pleasure centres of the brain – the same centres stimulated by addictive drugs.
I’ve been aware of my social networking addiction for a while now, and I have really tried to curb it, but I didn’t realise quite how hard it was going to be. However, over the last few weeks I have been thinking more and more about it, and Christy’s post today absolutely sealed the deal for me – I have to kick this habit, and I have to kick it right now.
I don’t want my children’s memories of their mother to be an image of her huddled over her iPhone, saying “hang on, I’ll play with you in a minute…”. I don’t want to waste every spare minute I get checking facebook, when I could be playing with my children, looking after my home or actually relaxing properly. I don’t want to miss out on any more of the real world in favour of the easy, enthralling, mind-numbing world of the internet.
So, this morning, I decided to make the change – for real, this time. After a brief period of thought, I put in place the following rules for myself:
1. The iPhone is to remain in my zipped-up handbag for the entire time my children are awake – the only exceptions are answering calls and texts (I don’t get too many of these, so this won’t pose an issue), and 10 minutes of catching up whilst I am walking up and down the kitchen with Squish in the sling, trying to get him to sleep. I will also permit myself to use it when I am nursing Squish to sleep at bedtime – providing he is actually asleep.
2. All work to be done when the kids are in bed, apart from one half-hour session to be used when Monkey is watching his favourite TV programmes in the afternoon. HOWEVER, this time is better used for catching up with housework. Only use it for laptop time if you are behind and absolutely need that extra half an hour to work.
3. In the evenings, work is to be completed before catching up with social networking. And if work takes a while to complete, everything else should be ignored in favour of spending time with the husband.
It’s only been one day but already the difference is astounding. I cleaned my house. I did three loads of laundry. I played “seek-n-boo” with my kids under the duvet on my bed. And I was (mostly) the kind of parent I want to be. I only raised my voice once, which was when Monkey was having a meltdown over Squishy trying to take pieces of his build-and-take-along Ninky Nonk – and that was purely down to the fact that, over his screeching, he couldn’t hear my suggestion that he took the Ninky Nonk to his personal play space (problem solving whilst trying to pry his beloved toys from his brother’s vice-like grip is, unsurprisingly, not his forte).
Like Christy, I have noted that the majority of the times that I raise my voice to the kids or am otherwise impatient with them, is when I am trying to get on with something. Obviously things like housework and cooking are non-negotiable to a degree, but ‘getting on’ with checking my various iPhone apps is not necessary, and quite frankly is a waste of our precious time. This whole time I have been missing out on real life interactions with my children and the world around me, and although cutting down is going to be hard, it’s already showing to be well worth it.
Tonight, instead of diving straight into social networking the moment Squish latched on for his bedtime feed, I waited a while. I watched him fidget and pummel my breast until the milk came, then I watched him relax and feed heartily. I watched his little eyelids flutter, and leant down to kiss his soft cheek. I breathed in his scent, and stroked his fluffy head. That totally beats tweeting, hands down.
Have you got a tech addiction? Come on, be honest!