We have hung up the pictures, emptied the bins and boxes, washed the linens for baby #3's arrival next month and I'm starting to wake up feeling like our new house is our home. For the last month and a half our lives have consisted of little to no routine with packing and unpacking. My conscience has told me, "Oh big deal. It's summer! This is what it's all about." As much as I love spontaneity and adventure there is work to be done. Sorry, Peter Pan. During a time of change with kids, boundaries get tested and new ones need to be made, consistency needs to be in place as much as possible, naps and decent bed times are ideal to avoid melt downs... but our hopes don't always meet reality.
Sure the meals are made (eventually!) and we get sleep (at last!) but the necessary one-on-one time with my little ones has taken a back seat as mommy finishes up just one more thing from the to-do list. The best thing I have found is trying to get them involved in the work as much as possible. Do I need to wash the cupboards? I'll give them a bucket and a washcloth. Do I need to make dinner? I'll have my 5-year-old measure, grate the cheese, and set the table. Do I need to weed the garden? I let the kids play nearby outside or weed too. They like to be little helpers most of the time but its true that sometimes their "help" is really more work for us, right? If I have this mostly figured out, what's the problem? I have to be honest. It's not my kids.
The to-do list gets longer throughout the day:
- get batteries
- reupholster dining chairs
- wood glue for desk drawer
- weed garden on South side
- wash the siding
- find charger for phone
- contact internet service AGAIN
- garden hose holder
- get magic erasers
Besides the large amount of things to get done I have found that something else is plaguing my to-do lists. The rectangle glowing in front of you and I right now. The computer! The internet!
I am not addicted to cigarettes but let me tell you when I need a break or have an idea, the internet is my satisfying puff of smoke. I sit in front of the computer and scroll through the Facebook feed or our Amazon wish/need list, research product reviews on the baby changer to see if there are any toxic smells, compare car insurance quotes, look for recipes, get directions... all hoping these will make my life more convenient (which they ultimately could) but I have allowed my drifting on the internet to getting little done.
Then it happens - the whine! an item gets broke! the child gets hurt! I grit my teeth in frustration as my kids have distracted me from... my distraction... wait? Yes, I said that right. By this time, my 5 and 2-year-old are bickering or need something and I'm trying to look up just one more thing and nothing has even got done from my list yet!
I have said it before and some of these Hens could quote me, "Facebooking while parenting is like texting while driving!" Now replace Facebook with Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Craigslist shopping... you get the idea.
So what to do?
With our latest move my limits have been tested. I have come up with new boundaries for myself - not just the kids.
Here's my plan: - Installing StayFocusd. It is an internet app for Google Chrome. It starts a timer when I am on a specific website and when my times up it blocks me from it. As their website says, "StayFocusd increases your productivity by limiting the amount of time that you can spend on time-wasting websites." I really only need to be on Facebook and other social media 20 minutes (tops!) a day. No more perusing and reloading feeds to see if anything new has popped up since I looked last. Ain't nobody got time for that.
- Picking a time period to look on the computer during the day. One or two times. Not a bunch of little "quick" searches. I have chosen my time to be after the kids are sleeping in bed. I'm going to print a little sign on card stock and tape it to the top of the computer that says, "Stay off the computer." If the kids are sleeping I can flip the paper to the back of the computer - voila'! If you want one too you can print a 5x7 copy by clicking here.
- Actually turning the computer off and not just putting it to "sleep". For some reason pushing the button and waiting for the computer to turn on seems that much bigger of an inconvenience than just slightly moving the computer mouse or hitting the space bar. It's the little things. :)
- Continue making lists throughout the day but keeping them in a high trafficked area like the kitchen counter. If any items need to be done on the computer they can be crossed off the list during my computer time only.
I do not have a smart phone but I have heard that those are equally if not more tempting to be online throughout the day. If that is the case for you check out this new app called Moment that helps you "put down your phone and get back to your life."
Instead of endless opportunities online where I am momentarily entertained, I find that having a focused time online makes me more effective in getting items crossed off my to-do list. Woot! On top of that I have more quality time during the day with the children, quality time with my husband at night, and maybe even some time for myself to take a bath and let my swollen ankles during this last month of pregnancy chill out! Sitting with my feet under the computer desk won't help there.
Will you join me? How do you fight the internet taking a hold of your time at home?
For more strategy ideas check out Amber's series "Finding Motivation in the Home".