Monday, February 10, 2014

Smarter Than My Smart Phone

On January 31st, I cracked. The whole week was hard. And rushed. And miserable in so many ways. I was running late. The kids were all late to school. I was set up to be at least ten minutes late for my first class.

I had the beginning signs of high anxiety creeping up on me. My heart was racing, my thoughts rushing and my breathing speeding up. I couldn't take it. I couldn't slow it down. I knew that it really wasn't the end of the world if I was late. I've discussed my personal situation with a very understanding professor. I knew he wouldn't be upset if I was late.

But I couldn't stop the racing.

I turned the van in the opposite direction. Headed to a coffee shop with my books. I tried to focus on what was causing my problems. I went through the long mental list of all the things the kids were doing in the morning that drove me insane. I considered all the reasons why we are regularly rushing. The Trucker says "you just need to wake up earlier." HA. Yeah. That doesn't apply with my own completely inability to actually follow through in a plan to get up earlier. I just couldn't understand it. I get up at 7. I don't do my hair or makeup, I just pull my hair back in a pony tail or clip. I should have enough time.

The kids are so hard to wake up. That has to be it. I need to crack down on bedtime.... Well, no. They actually have been pretty good at bedtime. I can't seem to get the younger two moving until 8. Why? Where does this whole hour go?

I sat there, frustrated at this particular point. I'm getting up earlier, why does it take so much to get them up?

I reached for my phone. I decided a short break from thinking so hard was in order. I opened the Facebook app. Stared at it for a minute. Closed it. Opened Candy Crush, maybe just one level...

Then I closed that app too. This is the moment where it all came crashing down. I figured out the root of my issue.

I opened up my notebook and started to write. It was that soul cleansing outpouring of words that happens every so often. A moment where the pen starts moving and I have to read it all again when I'm done because I have no idea what just poured out. Here is what I scribbled (seriously, I can barely read my own writing.):

Today I change my life.

For one month, just February, I am taking all of my usual distractions off of my phone. If it's all for no real reason, I will know very soon. But this thing is taking time away from what is important.

I read it like a morning newspaper before I get out of bed. I end up rushing because I am looking at things that are not important. These things can set the tone of my day. These things can put me in a sour mood before my feet even hit the floor. It's not worth that.

I look over the top of it and see my daughter's lonely face.  I told her that I needed to finish my school reading first and now, she's waiting for her turn to be important.

I look past it and see the Trucker roll his eyes. I say that I am playing this game because he is watching TV and ignoring me anyway, but what if he is watching TV because I'm not paying attention?

It takes time away from school work.

It interrupts bedtime snuggles and stories, at the very least it delays it.

I can't count how many times I've said "Just a minute." or how often the boys get in the van afterschool and start talking, and I'm trying to finish a level, or enter a comment, before we drive home. Then the drive home is silent, because I have squashed the words they were saying when they got in.

I want more.
I want more eye contact.
I want more Hello's and Goodbyes.
I want more kisses at the door.
I just want more LIFE and I'm taking it.
I'm taking it back.
IT IS MINE. MY life.

Since I have deleted my distractions from my phone, I've had an amazing amount of time returned to me.

I'm astounded (and saddened) by the length of battery life my phone has now. I am also feeling the same about the number of times I find myself reaching for my phone only to stop and remember that there is no reason to. It's getting better, but it's still a lot.

I have had amazing conversations with my family.
I have had a lot of focused study time.
I have enjoyed a break from a lot of drama.
I have had smooth running mornings and no fights with kids because we need to rush.
I have slept really well, because I'm not staying up saying 'just one more level,' or 'I'll just see if someone posted something, I'll be quick.'

I haven't played any of the games I was hooked on, even though I can access them on the laptop. I just don't have the desire to do it.

I am still a Facebook user, but instead of being a constant checker and connected through never-ending notifications, I log in just once or twice through the day. When I do, I do not have the desire to try to scroll through all of the missed time either. I check notifications, pop in to the groups I am involved in. Sometimes, I don't even look at the newsfeed at all.

I keep my phone in my purse or pocket while I am in the van. I make eye contact and conversation with the kids when they get in now. I am waiting for them. They are not waiting for me.

I get out of bed and start the day on my terms. By the time I look at any of these online distractions, I've usually finished the majority of my day.

I hate to admit that the problem was me. Who ever wants to say that? But it certainly was. I wake up at the same time everyday as I did before. But instead of rolling over to look at the smartphone, I get up. I get my coffee made. I crawl in beside the Angel and snuggle up. She wakes up with a smile and a big hug for me. There is no struggle to get her out of bed; she wakes up loved and happy. I go into Art's room and sit on the edge of his bed. I rub his back in small circles for a minute or two, he wakes up with a sleepy "Good Morning, Mom."
Mr. Macboy, He gets himself up these days. He is often up before me. But I greet him every morning and take a minute to ask how he slept.

I will say that the phone helped my transition to wakefulness in the morning. It was a small step on the road to resetting my body clock. At the very least, I was staying awake and not just fighting with the snooze button. For months, I was waking up nice and early and staying awake. But I'd stay in bed where it was warm and cozy for as long as I possibly could. The first few mornings without the distractions were not exactly easy, but I was able to convince myself that if I just got up and made my coffee, I could crawl back in bed and warm up for a minute. Of course, once my feet were on the ground, I didn't go back to bed.

The benefits so far, just ten days in, are real. I am confident that I will not have any trouble getting to the end of February. I am at peace.

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