A few months ago, I wrote a post called Eat It, iPhone! (Putting My iPhone in Its Place). I felt excited for a few days, maybe a week, about implementing the ideas I wrote about for putting some boundaries around my iPhone usage.
But I have to tell you...after a few days, there I was again, back to same habits, mindlessly scrolling Facebook when I had a free moment. Hiding from my kids in the bathroom, on Pinterest, feverishly searching out my next improvement. Checking my phone as soon as I woke up.
I'm not saying at all that I shouldn't be on Facebook or Pinterest or my phone. I think you know that. But I honestly just feel like my brain (and my heart) keeps turning again and again to find something to fill me. To fill the void of boredom, of the monotony of life, of the routine moments. To escape from the grind of life. I'm looking for entertainment. I'm looking for rest. I'm looking for something to rescue me from it all.
I'm finding that this issue goes a little deeper for me than I originally thought.
My husband and I have been having some honest conversations about these things that I'm feeling. I feel tired. I feel like the day is a never-ending list of tasks. And that's part of why I'm looking for some kind of rest, and some kind of filling, when I'm flipping through my phone. But I'm finding that it's not restful at all. It's actually more cluttering to my mind and my emotions.
It's kind of like how I think I'll be more fulfilled if I have more stuff, buy more things, but then I actually just end up feeling more weighed down by the material things cluttering up my life. Or when I think junk food will be so satisfying, but I end up feeling sick and gross.
So, yes, we've been having these conversations, my husband and I. We've been sitting out on the porch after the kids are in bed and I've been trying to unravel what I feel inside.
And some of the things we're discussing now are subjects like: what really is restful for me. And how I tend to think that if I'm resting, then I should feel lazy, and therefore guilty. I think I've bought into the lie that my worth is linked to my efficiency and productivity. And so I haven't been intentionally resting, playing, relaxing. I then find myself trying to escape through my phone. Trying to get away from my kids and my family because I'm just so stinking tired.
So, practically, some of things we're trying out are:
- Me getting up early. I know this doesn't sound 'restful,' but, for me, it really is. I find I really need the space to be disconnected from my children's needs and voices and hands. I need the time to think and process. I feel like I'm drowning throughout the day if I don't have time to think. And be quiet. And be alone. So this includes, right now, time for me to do some kind of connection with God, some kind of thinking about my own emotional state, some kind of exercise (because I also have issues where I end up fluctuating in my emotions about myself and my physical body very extremely if I'm not exercising. Exercising is one tangible way I manage a more healthy perspective about my body), and a shower. All before the girls wake up. The way we've entitled this space in our talks is 'scheduling in margin.' If I don't have 'margin' in my day, I'm finding I just don't do well. I look for it unhealthy ways.
- A few small technology shifts, such as when I read a book, I'm going to try to read an actual book, instead of reading it on my Kindle app on my iPhone. This helps create needed space between me and the iPhone. And it helps my brain do 'resting type things' that are related to a screen.
- Setting boundaries around cleaning. This may sound completely unconnected, but, for me, it's in the same stream of consciousness. I end up feeling like nothing is ever clean, like I've never done enough, and that's not very far from believing that I'm never enough. Which leads me to want to disconnect, escape, get away from my family because the tasks are never done, there's never a place for rest, and I'm never good enough (that line of thinking has a name: shame). Pretty nasty stuff. So we're finding that I actually, for now, need some pretty strict boundaries on when and how much I can clean. Crazy! Here's what we're doing: every morning, I set the timer and clean up (and do other cleaning projects) for 30 minutes. Then, after dinner, we set the timer for 30 minutes again and both clean for 30 minutes. So that gives us about 90 minutes a day of 'house-cleaning time.' Whatever gets clean, gets clean. And then we just label the house (whether it technically IS or ISN'T) as CLEAN. It is DONE. It is CLEAN. Regardless or whether I think it's perfect or good enough...it's CLEAN. And this creates an atmosphere for me where I can feel like my day is no longer a never-ending series of tasks that never end, and never get done, and I'm never enough. That just helps me not want to turn to my phone for rest because Im always working to prove that I'm NOT 'not enough.'
- A technology sabbath and a regular sabbath. I've always kind of felt like I 'couldn't sabbath' because...'I'm a mom.' I couldn't stop working for a day because 'I have children,' and that's my job. But I've started having this conviction that part of my tiredness is connected to my lack of intentional sabbath (or stopping). My lack of sabbath mentality (as well as sabbath practice). So, honestly, I've only tried two sabbaths so far. But the first one was a wonderful success. I'll tell you why I label it a success. First, I decided that I wanted to make my sabbaths also 'technology sabbaths' (where I'd give my phone to my husband, and tell him, "Could you be in charge of anything pressing that anyone texts, but otherwise, I don't want to see my phone at all today?"). That was so good for me: all week I've felt like that simple act in itself of disconnecting from my phone created the space that I've wanted from my phone, but haven't been able to do on my own willpower. The day of being away from it severed my need for it. I don't know if it will always be that way, but this week, I haven't really had the same draw to my phone that I previously did. And it was SO GOOD for my soul to be reminded that everyone in the world would get along fine without me, without my input. My friends, my family, would be fine without me. God is plenty sufficient for all their needs. It was like my mind had to rest in the bigness of God, simply by letting go of my phone and instant connection to everyone for that one day. I didn't anticipate that. And the regular sabbath part of the day was just plain old good for me. To let myself take a nap without guilt. To read happily. It actually made me want to connect with one of my nieces when I was with my family in a way I wouldn't normally, because I'd typically feel too drained. I had extra space in my heart.
So there you have it. Some of the things that we're trying to implement for me to dig deeper into this issue of rest and where I find it. Carving out intentional spaces for rest, so that I wouldn't constantly be longing for it and looking for it in unhealthy and non-restful ways, and coming up exhausted.
If you're at all interested in a few more blogs or resources that I, myself, found helpful in my journey, I'll list some below. They're just regular blogs of regular people:
A mother's thoughts on how technology is influencing her child:
Both of these two blogs are commenting on the need for technology sabbaths:
A mother's thoughts on how busyness is influencing her family:
Focus on the Family's brief comments on the cultural phenomenon of mothers staying so busy:
A few blogs of mothers wrestling with the issue of Sabbath: