A couple of years ago we decided to get rid of our TV

We noticed that not only had it become a crutch for me with my kids, they were crankier and had complaining attitudes the more they watched it. We sort of tucked this observation in our back pocket, but didn’t do anything with it except “try harder” when it came to not letting our children watch as much TV.

But I was tired, and TV was easy, and it took care of my kids so I could sleep or be or breathe or whatever I felt like I needed. When I didn’t feel like mothering, I sent them to the TV.

One day, while in the car, we were listening to an audio book on composers, and the featured one was Beethoven. We listened to the story of his life and were all enamored with his talent. And I got to thinking, “I wonder how many kids never discover their talents because they are too busy being entertained with TV and video games?”

I told my husband my thoughts and he said, “Let’s just get rid of the TV” And so we did. We took it out of our house and gave it to our in-laws.

I was nervous, but resolved.

The first two days my kids asked to watch TV, but after that, they were fine. They would play and use their imaginations and do puzzles and we realized, they don’t need TV and they don’t need me to entertain them either. Also, their attitudes changed. They didn’t whine or complain as much. Sure, there are days that are hard, and there I times I let them watch a show on the iPad, but overall, getting rid of our TV made a huge difference in our daily lives. One day, as they get older, we might bring it back, but for now, during these years of cultivating imagination and talents and play and childhood memories, we’ll leave it put away.

I find that I am a lot like my children.

The more time in front of a screen, particularly online, the more crummy I feel, which leads to me being more whiny.

I get discouraged easier, I feel depressed, and I generally just feel like junk. Spending too much time connected to the Internet leaves me feel super disconnected to the real world all around me. Some days, when I have a lot of work to do online, I have to make myself shut my computer, go outside, and take a walk, just so I can clear my head and think deeply.

Shallowness has become the consequence of too much time online.

Do you struggle with feeling crummy when you spend to much time online?

Do you struggle thinking and communicating on a deeper level?

How is your attention span these days?

If you’re like me, you want to be able to enjoy the gift of the Internet without letting it consume you. You want to spend some time online, but you don’t want to give your days over to it.

So what do we do?

I propose a few things.

We Stay Alert

I find that when I’m being most wasteful with my time online is when I’m not being alert to the time. I haven’t set a timer, been intentional, or made a plan. I really believe the way to waste your life is to not pay attention to it. If you want to live well, mother well, and not give in to escape, you’ve got to be alert. And not just alert to yourself and your online time, but alert to what is happening while your attention is towards a screen. Remember who is prowling around just waiting to devour your family.

We Give Ourselves Permission to Peruse

There is nothing wrong with getting online to interact on social networks and engage with your online community. I love sharing my life on Facebook, interacting, getting advice, and finding interesting articles and funny anecdotes. It’s enjoyable to me, just like crafting is enjoyable to someone else (so not me). I allow myself permission to enjoy being social online, just as I’m social “in real life.”

But I have a timer. It’s an app, actually, that allows me only 40 minutes of Facebook and Twitter time a day. It’s wonderfully helpful, allows me the freedom to still play online, and it forces me to pay attention to how I am using my time. I can use 5 minutes here or there to get to 40 minutes, or I can spend the 40 in one shot. But when it’s done, it’s done, and the sites are blocked.

Permission to peruse, with boundaries. Win!

Read a Real Book

With attention spans dwindling in the digital age, pick up a real book and read it. Settle in a little each day to give yourself to deeper reading and thinking.

Get Together With Friends Regularly

Real life friendships keep us grounded, and they bring us joy. Don’t neglect your friendships. Set up times to get together with friends, enjoying real life conversation and food and laughs.

Get Apps

There are applications you can get for your computer to help you control your time online. My favorite is called, “Anti-Social.” It allows me to block all sites I want to block for a certain amount of time, so I don’t get distracted when I need to work on my computer.

Control Your iPhone

Ah, the additional appendage to our bodies, the iPhone.

It’s kind of a part of us, isn’t it? If you have an iPhone, I have some ideas for you to keep your iPhone Internet time in check.

  • Turn off your Wi-Fi when you don’t need it (you can do this in Settings).
  • Turn off all email, Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking alerts. I 
promise, you will live if you don’t know right away that someone tweeted you.
  • When you go somewhere with your husband or your babes or a friend(s), keep 
your iPhone in your car, or turn it off all-together. You will automatically be more engaged with the life around you.

Set Work Hours

Instead of popping on here and there throughout the day, set work hours so you have a block of time to do what you need to do. Look at your day realistically, and figure out what work hours are best for you and your family. This way they know what to expect, and you have opportunity to focus and work freely.

Stay Grounded

If you have a laptop, keep it in one set place during the day. For me, that place is my desk in my bedroom. If it isn’t constantly around me, I am less likely to “hop on for five minutes.” 
 Keep your computer “grounded” and you will find the old adage is true, “Out of sight, out of mind!”

Now go forth in confidence enjoying all of the gifts this life offers!

ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS

  1. Does being in front of a screen (whether it’s the TV, iPhone or computer) affect your mood and attitude?
  1. Do you have boundaries in place to keep yourself from getting sucked down the rabbit hole of social media and the internet? Which boundaries from Sarah Mae’s list do you think would help you the most?

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