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Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
When Fia 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 more in-the-moment with my babies.
It was a different story with Fia. The web was my connection to the world. I would spend hours giving and getting advice from moms. I’d scour blogs and read everything from sleep training to reflux. I’d write about my own mental health. I’ve often said it wasn’t my husband or my therapist who pulled me through those early months. It was other moms. Many of whom I never met in person.
So it’s no surprise a recent study says that new moms who are in the blogosphere feel more connected, less alone, less stressed, even less depressed.
“That potentially is going to spill out into other aspects of their well being, including their marital relationship with their partner, the ways that they’re feeling about their parenting stress, and eventually into their levels of depression,” says Brandon T. McDaniel, graduate student in human development and family studies, Penn State.
He and his colleagues at Brigham Young University surveyed 157 new mothers who had babies under 18 months. They asked about their use of media, both in terms of blogging and social media like Facebook. The social media aspect didn’t have much impact. But writing and reading blogs did. I think therein lies the difference.
When you are texting and checking your phone all day for emails, your mind spins. You feel less-connected to just about everything. It becomes an addiction. When you’re blogging or reading blogs you feel more a part of something. I’m not tooting my own horn here. For me, the phone is my addiction, the blog is my salvation.
I think the author of the study explained it well. He pointed out several potential benefits for new mothers who blog:
- It gives moms a way to connect with family and friends who live far away.
- It gives moms a creative outlet. They can showcase their hobbies and accomplishments, especially the stay-at-home moms.
Both of these make sense to me. We moms often struggle with feeling under-appreciated. I know my blog gives me a sense of self that I may have lost otherwise.
In the study, the moms reported spending about three hours per day on the computer and using the Internet. That was only behind sleep at seven hours a day and caring for their babies at nine hours a day.
I think about the generations of moms before us. On the one hand, their lives seemed simpler. They weren’t checking iphones and texting all the time. What did they do with those extra three hours? I often wonder if they were more focused and present? Or if they were more stressed and depressed? We know by Betty Friedan’s, The Feminine Mystique
that many were questioning their purpose in life. Housewives were admitting their unhappiness and realizing motherhood wasn’t always enough. It still isn’t for many of us. In that regard, I think we are lucky to have all the technology at our fingertips. We can connect and feel connected. For many stay at home moms, blogging has even turned into a career.
How you manage it is the key.
There’s a fine line between fulfilling your life and dominating your life; between oversharenting
and not sharing enough. Should you be writing about your kids or spending time with them? I guess it comes down to finding your own personal balance. I know I’ve been working hard to find mine.
As for why social media like Facebook
did little for the moms? Here’s what I think: Social media, for all its good, is a time-suck
. I know it doesn’t leave me feeling content. Blogging, on the other hand, is writing. When I get to sit down and use my creative energy to put something organic out there, I feel purposeful and accomplished. Plus, if it helps others, I actually feel useful. Writing inspires me. It keeps my brain functioning in a way that diapers and breast pumps don’t.
But how do you embrace social media, disconnect from the internet/Blackberry, blog about motherhood, and not feel hypocritical?
I have said before that I’m going for quality over quantity. Set limits for your online time/your kid time/your wife time and stick to them. Put the phone away after a certain time of day. It takes discipline, but I think in this day and age, it’s the only way we can straddle all our worlds without losing sight of the most important one: our kids.
Image: Blog Pic via Shutterstock
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read | Tags: addiction, blackberry, blog, blogging, blogs, emailing, facebook, ipad, iphone, myspace, oversharent, oversharenting, social media, technology, texting, twitter, unplug, unplugged
Monday, June 18th, 2012
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!
Categories: Milestone Monday, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips | Tags: blackberry, depression, facebook, facebook depression, ibook, ipad, iphone, mental illness, milestone monday, narcissism, neurosis, neurotic, OCD, oversharenting, social media, tech, technology, twitter
Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
I now believe in twitter. And the power of social media. Doesn’t mean I like doing it. But I do think there is something to it.
Case in point: a few weeks ago, my editors at Parents sent me an article from the Wall Street Journal on Oversharenting. They asked if I wanted to blog about it. I did. I tweeted it out with a slew of other stuff. From that tweet, I began a “twitter conversation” (is that what you call it?) with a producer at KCBS. Next thing I know, he was asking if they could interview me for a story on Oversharenting. (click here to view.)
I connected with another woman on twitter by posting about Emmett’s reflux. She happens to be a nurse who works in pediatrics. She gave me some amazing information and now we email advice and updates.
I wrote a post about my angst over the alleged allegations of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky. I went to Penn State and grew up in State College, so the story really hit home. (His trial is going on right now.) That landed me a segment on Fox LA.
I still don’t have that many followers, but it’s growing. I have a woman helping me navigate the waters and she’s great. She isn’t putting pressure on me, but what she does is point out articles I’m interested in. I’m a huge fan of Nicholas Kristof’s columns in the New York Times. He takes on the bravest of topics, often writing about the impoverished women and children of the world. She helps flag some for me to retweet to my small flock. You hope over time, you start to make a difference.
This all sounds like a big, gross blog on self-promotion. But it’s not. It really comes down to my resistance of trying something new. Then, getting over that resistance, embracing it with baby steps, and seeing first hand results.
Does it mean I get a better spot in the universe? No. Do more followers mean I’m more important? No. But if the point of my career is to write, it’s nice to have readers, conversation and feedback. When Parents posts my blogs on their Facebook page, I get to see real-time responses. Two years ago I didn’t even have a Facebook page.
I am quickly realizing in the digital age, it takes a digital village. The key is how to manage it. There is definitely an art to this, and it does take time. I’m not ready to let it rule my life, but I have seen it work.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips | Tags: facebook, Fox LA, Jerry Sandusky, KCBS, oversharent, oversharenting, penn state, twitter, Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, May 16th, 2012
I know I overshare on my blog. Hell, I even posted during pregnancy about my ugly vag problem. I’m sure my pious mother-in-law was horrified by that one, though we’ve never discussed it. I keep thinking maybe she didn’t read it. I know my husband only reads posts I flag for him. Otherwise I think he’d be horrified too. He’s a private person. So private in fact that he, get this, doesn’t even have a Facebook page. Yes, you read that correctly. He will occasionally go on mine to surf and post obnoxious comments that I then have to go undo/overexplain to my “friends.”
All this to say that there is a new term. It’s called oversharenting.
I cringed when I read parts of this Wall Street Journal article. As in, “God I hope I’m not oversharenting everything I post.” When it comes to my kids, I’d like to think they won’t be horrified by my blogs in 15 years. I keep telling myself that since everything is so instant, everything is also instantly forgotten, right? But what if it’s not?
Will Fia care that her first boyfriend can find a picture about her first poop? Will Emmett care that the world knows he’s not circumcised? I don’t dare ask my husband this because I think his gut feeling is I reveal too much. He would probably be okay if my blog went away. He’s supportive of my writing—he just doesn’t want our family to have anything to do with it. But I’m a mommy blogger. So what line do I walk? My family is my blog. And it gives me a creative outlet that I cherish.
When it comes to social media like Twitter and Facebook, I’m pretty lame compared to most moms. I have less than 600 twitter followers (please follow me! @jillcordes) and I have a small fan base on Facebook (please like me!). I’m so bad at putting my links up that I have someone helping/teaching me to do it. As ridiculous as it sounds, somehow this makes me feel like a superior parent in the online world. Well, I may be posting naked pictures of my babies, but at least I don’t live on the computer all day.
Ahh, we humans can justify anything, can’t we?
I have no right or wrong answers for oversharenting. I don’t know if anyone does because we don’t know where the digital age is leading us. Will our kids and grandkids be more open about issues? Will there be less passive aggressive behavior in the world because we call everyone out on everything? (That would help many an in-law relationship, no?) Or will we end up raising robots? Or worse—kids who hate us for all we’ve revealed?
I joke that when Fia and Emmett become tweens, we’ll all move to rural New Zealand and become sheepherders. But something tells me there will be a wireless connection there, too.
Where do we draw the line in dealing with online? Tell me. Help me. Share your thoughts for the world to see.
Picture of mom and baby on computer via Shutterstock
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Must Read | Tags: current news, facebook, internet, modern parents, news, online, over sharing, oversharenting, social media, twitter, Wall Street Journal
Friday, June 24th, 2011
Hey everyone. We have gotten some great comments (and some not so great ones, and some downright nasty ones) on the My Sitters Are Driving Me Crazy posts. I think it’s all good though, to have this space to comment, give advice and tips to each other, or for some, to blow off steam (and maybe an anger issue or two).
When a new blog goes up, Parents often puts it on their facebook page. But I will also be posting the new links on my facebook page (click here) which you can “like.” That way you’ll know when a new one comes out (I think. I’m kinda bad on the social media front). Check back often!
You can also follow me on twitter. My handle: @jillcordes (click on to follow).
Both of these icons are on the right hand side of my blog page, if you scroll down past my bio, etc.
Thanks everyone for taking the time to read and comment. More to come!
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, The Sitter Chronicles | Tags: blog, facebook, facebook page, follow, follow me, follow me on facebook, follow me on twitter, handle, new blog, new post, Parents, post, twitter, twitter handle