(My) Milestone Monday: Is My Tech Addiction Making Me a Bad Mom?

Today I am partially unplugging for the week. My goal? To become more mindful and present. Here’s why:

My friend Teresa came over yesterday.  She  is pregnant and a vegetarian. I was ordering pizza. I needed a crucial answer. I texted her: can u pick the meat off or do I get veggie pizza? What kind of veggies?

She didn’t text back. I got a little indignant. I went ahead and ordered (one plain, one pepperoni). When she arrived I asked if she had seen my text. She said something that I’ve been floating through my increasingly scattered brain for a few days.

“I try and only check my phone every 2 hours. Especially when I’m with my son. It makes me feel like I’m not a good mom when I start responding and not focusing on him. I find that the more I check my phone, the more depressed I am at the end of the day because my mood is constantly shifting based on what comes in.”

What she said = gold in my book. And my brain. I kid you not: last week I had a headache for 3 days. I could tell it was from tension. Nothing made it go away. I honestly think it’s because I’m so scattered with a lack of schedule (read: Frustrated. Need to Vent) and feel pulled in a million directions that no amount of aspirin or Motrin will help. What will help is changing my behavior. Drastically.

Granted  I wrote last week about the beauty of social media. How I’m now a believer in it. But, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t put limits on all this stuff.

On any given day, here is how my crazy goes:

Fia and I are playing. I check my phone. She frolics, I text or email someone back. Then I run into the kitchen. Open freezer. Remember someone else I was going to email about something. Write them. Freezer is still open. I pull out chicken to thaw. Fia shouts, “Mama, what are you doing?” I open a cabinet.  ”I’m coming baby.” I pull out a glass and fill it with water. I check the phone. Oops–respond to an email. Cabinet still open. I almost walk into it (two years ago I did and broke my nose. No sh-t). Glance out window. She isn’t maimed. I shoot a quick text to another friend. Reply to the email. Fia asks for me again. I walk outside with my phone.  Oops. Forgot water. Back inside. And on and on.

No wonder I don’t feel “present.” No wonder I have self doubt about my mom abilities. Or frankly any of my abilities.  It’s a CONSTANT yo-yo of emotions. Even as creatures of adaptation, our brains aren’t made for that.

My mom in her crass wisdom used the quote, “If you have one foot in tomorrow and one foot in yesterday, then you’re pissing on today.” I’m going to say that when I have one foot on my computer and one foot on my kids, I’m pissing on the present. I can’t straddle the worlds anymore. It’s a lose-lose situation, and one that apparently has consequences. A recent article in the New York Times says there is a thing called Facebook Depression. And that constant texting and emailing can cause mental illness. These include OCD behavior (me) and narcissism (probably me).

As my friend Teresa said, “Bottom line: this sh-t isn’t good for us.”

I find in moments when I am down on my knees, sans blackberry, playing with Fia, helping her poop, whatever, there is never stillness. Instead of absorbing everything about her and our moments (yes, even if it’s in a disgusting public bathroom), my mind spins. Crazy sentences begin. I literally have conversations with people, thinking about what I will text or email them–which then turns into an entirely different conversation that can range from my purpose in life to my next grocery trip. I am so tired of hearing myself.

TIME. TO. STOP. THE. F–KING. CHATTER.

Here’s what I’m doing: I am going to overhaul my life and really examine how I can schedule my week in a more seamless and sane fashion. Following Teresa’s lead, I will allot myself time to check my phone and time to put it away.  I will schedule chunks of time for my kids without the phone even in reach. I think this will reduce my mom guilt too. I’m going for quality over quantity.

Like I said, I’m giving this a week. Anyone else want to join me in this venture? I’ll report back on June 25th. If you want to do this too, post comments on this blog and I can share them in the follow-up post. And not to worry; I’ll read your comments during my allotted “work time.”

Lastly, if anyone has any suggestions on how to manage time and technology better, please share!

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  1. by Courtney

    On June 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    I definitely have this problem, and I’m inspired by your experiment. I feel like the constant technological loop is messing with the way my brain works. Time to take back control!

  2. by Sara Lang

    On June 18, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    I will begin by saying that perhaps I am simply rationalizing my own behavior, which is very similar to yours! I think the technology issue is just a symptom of the bigger problem of trying to juggle too many things at one time. I’m a SAHM and freelancer as well, and I am certainly guilty of “multi-tasking” to the point that I can’t get anything done. The phone and the ipad are lifesavers for me but they are also enabling devices that feed my own problems with managing time. I have dreams of simplifying, but can’t seem to find the time to get it done! Ahhhh, irony!

  3. by Mary

    On June 18, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    I’ve never left a comment on any article before until now. You have just described me! I didnt know there was something called FB depression. I can’t seem to detach from my email, or social media. I always feel like I need to know what’s happening and by doing so I’m wasting precious time that I could be spending with my daughter. I’m going to try your experiment as well and see if my headaches and depression go away.

  4. by Amy Audette

    On June 18, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    I will follow your lead. I have been thinking about doing something similar for a while. I needed to cut back on my texting/ e-mail/ fb/ internet during the day. Especially since it seems that my 7 yr old has been telling me to put the phone down a lot lately. It is so easy to get sucked in and lose 20 minutes of time. Thanks for the kick In the pants I needed to try it. My Plan is to check every 2 hours and only respond to urgent matters. I will give myself an hour after the kids and hubby are in bed to deal with the less pressing issues. Thanks!

  5. by Sophie

    On June 20, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    This is so depressing, you just described me all over. I think it’s time to change.

  6. by Cindy

    On June 21, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    A few months ago I noticed that the hubby and I had this same problem. We were constantly on our phones. We may not have been working, but we were checking facebook, pinning things on pintrest, playing games, etc. We were in the same room, but we were not together. Our daughter was playing 2 feet from us, but we were not soaking her in, or better yet, playing with her. So, I told him that it was a huge problem. We decided that we’d put our phones down when we came in the door each day. We’d talk to each other more and play in the floor with our daughter more. Facebook and Pinterest will still be there when there is a more appropriate time, but right now it is Family time. It’s helped a lot and it really hasn’t been painful at all. We sometimes forget, but I’m thinking about having a “phone basket” where we drop our phone when we come in the door so it’s out of the way.

  7. by Jill Cordes

    On June 21, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    These are some great ideas you guys! I’m posting a follow up on Monday so make sure to check back in. I think we’re on to something!

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    Better late than never right? I am SO happy I found this article. I am going to log off my facebook on my iphone and put it on the last app screen!This is me to a T and I have been telling my doctor that I am having emotional rollercoasters during the day and I couldnt seem to figure out why. Pretty sure I just did.

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  28. [...] that’s my point:  In this day and age with app after app being developed, the assumption is we are looking for the easy way out. But the truth is, there isn’t one. Parenting puts you in the trenches no matter how much [...]

  29. [...] behavior, don’t we?), but I did decide last week to unplug for a bit. I wrote about my plan (Is My Tech Addiction Making Me a Bad Mom?) and today is the [...]

  30. [...] was born, the internet saved me. Now, it’s killing me. Lately I have been writing about how I decided to unplug and what I discovered in unplugging. In short, my mind isn’t constantly racing and I  feel [...]