Love Story

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stay at home moms and screen time - Guest post

There was once a stereotype of stay at home moms that included eating bon-bons and watching soap operas all day. While I'm not sure if that was ever really something women did, I think the new "stereotype" of stay at home moms being glued to their computers is actually more common then the previous statement. I read one post that said that as many as 25% of stay at home moms admit to spending more time on the internet than they do with their kids, some spending as much as 5 hours or more surfing the web. I know that I personally have been convicted by how much my screen time plays a part in my day. When I recently saw a friend announcing a self-imposed ban from the internet before 7pm each day, I asked her to write a little bit about it for us. She bravely shared her story and I am thankful she did because I think there are many who are going to be able to relate. Here is what she had to say:

I’m breaking my own rules already.  Just a week ago, I had come to a point where it was my life or Facebook.  I was staring down an enemy every bit as formidable as the cigarettes and coffee I gave up two years ago.  The symptoms of withdrawal were surprisingly the same.  I would find myself staring out the window in my living room, feeling like time was going by painfully slow.  I felt lost, without a cause.  I knew inside what the cause was…my family.  The very same reason I gave up cigarettes….my family, my children.

Today is not a great day, yesterday wasn’t either.   Both days I had carelessly left the computer on the night before and “well if it’s on already, I might as well just check it really quick”….These thoughts are the death knell of any productivity I might have had.  

Last week was amazing though.  I believe it was Tuesday I swore to myself, I will NOT turn on the computer at all until after 7 PM.  These were the new rules…these were the battle lines.  I had toyed with the idea of deleting my Facebook account all together, because I know I have a problem, have had one for some time.   My husband assured me that this alone would not solve my problems, I had an addiction far worse than just some social networking site.  It was a screen addiction.  Often while my Facebook is open, I would peruse news sites and crime blogs for the worst news stories I could possibly find.  I would rationalize that it kept me vigilant, kept me hyper aware if one day I ran into a situation where I could spot an abused child, or heaven forbid spot someone trying to hurt my own children (child abuse stories are king in my news search problem).  So this wasn’t just some Facebook issue, this was an internet issue.  An internet addiction.

Every once in a while I would swear off news sites, and I would do well for a month or two.  But I always go back.  Facebook is another matter entirely.  I don’t think I’ve gone over 24 hours without checking my Facebook in over a year probably.  Facebook is the knarliest of opponents in my screen addiction.
My husband and I decided timed parameters were the only way I could face this problem of mine.  And for the first week it was wonderful.  I absolutely would not turn on my computer until after 7pm, and I got so much done.  My house had been cleaner than it had in months, I was planning my dinners (more out of boredom because I felt like I had no life all day), and I was spending more time with my 3 year old, it was fabulous.  I took a whole morning to visit a friend at her house in person.  I called friends on the phone, actually listening to their voices and having real conversations.  I was living my real life, not my false internet life.  Then came Sunday. 

After church I had come home and thought to myself, well “Sundays shouldn’t count!”…so I fired her up and immediately checked Facebook.  After about 20 minutes I felt a twinge of guilt.  Maybe Sundays should count?  I ask the husband.  He says to me “if you make an exception today, it will be easier to on other days”….he’s RIGHT!!  So I do what any good addict does and rationalize.  I set my timer on my microwave for 35 minutes and swear I won’t go over.  That day I didn’t. 
This is the beginning of a new week and it’s not going well.  Yesterday I indulged in my sweet screen all day.  I did get a couple loads of laundry done, so all is not lost I tell myself.  Today is going no better though.  Not even laundry has gotten started yet and it’s almost 1:30 in the afternoon. 
The rationalizations begin:  “Oh, the baby has a cold, I probably wouldn’t get done much anyway”,  “Maybe I just can’t really do this”….”Maybe I should just delete my Facebook account and see if that helps”.

Of course there was a time that this wasn’t a problem for me.  There was a time in another life where I lived by myself, owned no computer, no cell phone, and had no cable TV.  It was a grand time.  Then I started dating my future husband.  He likes all the toys.  I liked his computer.  I could live to this day without all the other things, but the computer has me hooked.  I often fantasize about getting rid of internet, how much easier it would be, but unfortunately, we live in Canada and still have many bills in the States, so I must handle money with online banking.  Therein lies my problem.  It’s a gateway.  I don’t know how many times I find myself turning on the computer to balance the books and think, oh I can just check my Facebook really quick.   It’s almost never “really quick”.  

My name is Adina and I have a screen addiction.   It’s not pretty.  It’s not harmless.  My family suffers for it.  But I will keep trying.  And as Chrystal reminded me yesterday “Tomorrow is a new day”. 
Indeed it is.

Wow. Does this strike a chord with you? It does with me. Can you relate to this on any level? Honestly, I can. If you can too, what are you doing to take a stand and regain control of your life? I would love to hear your thoughts, opinions, stories. Maybe Adina has inspired you and you would like to write a post to share me with your story and I would be glad to post it. This seems to be a growing epidemic so I know that some of you reading this will have something to say...hope you chime in.

1 comment:

  1. I never ever get in my computer..I have a 15 month old and a 3 year old so sitting on a computer with them crawling all over me is quite hard, I do jump on my phone right now I'm cooking dinner and on my phone :) I honestly don't see how stay at home moms with multiple young children have time to surf the net all day but maybe it's just me? Now if I was at work all day I'd be stuck behind a computer screen 8 straight hours so that might be a different story!


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