My Plan To Stay Offline & On At Home

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? AmandaSignature

For more strategy ideas check out Amber's series "Finding Motivation in the Home".

Making Room, Part 4: Media


If you’re just joining us, this is the fourth post in a series discussing Making Room for God in our lives. You can catch up on parts onetwothree, and five here. 

A few Sundays ago, I was sitting in church with my family when my 8-month-old son started crying inconsolably. He was hungry and needed a diaper change, so I took him back to the mother’s room, changed his diaper, and settled in to nurse him. Once we were both settled into the rocking chair, I glanced at his sweet baby face staring back at mine for a few seconds. He smiled at me. Then his eyelids shut slightly as he drifted into a happy milk coma. With the baby no longer interacting with me, I glanced around the room instead. Nothing much to see. For a brief moment, I was bored.

My response to this slight boredom was automatic. I reached a hand into my diaper bag, pulled out my phone, and seconds later found myself surfing Facebook.

Only after I had replied to a few emails and checked up on my blog reader did I remember: I’m at church right now! In fact, my Pastor is giving a sermon! I can hear this sermon over the speakers! What in the world am I doing on my phone!?

Media in its various forms has become such an automatic distraction in my life, I hardly register it as a distraction. Instead, I view it as a good thing: my life line. My phone and my computer keep me in touch with the outside world on the days when I am otherwise stuck at home with my three small children. My television allows me to entertain the children during that half hour before dinner when I just need them to sit still and be quiet so I can get things done. The internet is a never-ending source of inspiration for projects, and recipes. It allows me to get any needed shopping done at a discount without ever leaving my house.

So what’s the problem here?

The problem is that media is such an easy source of fun, entertainment, inspiration, and human interaction, that I often find myself automatically and unwittingly allowing it to fill time that should be better spent. Maybe I should have a really good conversation with my husband, but it’s way easier for us to spend the evening staring at our separate glowing rectangles. Maybe I should fold this laundry, but look! A new blog post is up on my favorite blog! Maybe I should spend this relatively unexciting downtime thinking, dreaming, and brainstorming, but an instagram feed full of pretty pictures is right at my fingertips. The more I am in the habit of filling every single still moment with media, the more automatic this behavior becomes. The next thing I know, I’m checking my phone during the sermon at church without even realizing I’m doing so.

The Bible talks a lot about being “still” and “calm” before God, practicing patience and quiet as we seek to know Him.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. (Psalm 62:5)

But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. (Psalm 131:2)

The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. (Isaiah 32:17)

Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.(1 Peter 3:4)

it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:26)

Having grown accustomed to instant gratification entertainment, I find it difficult to practice stillness and quiet as i go about my days. Those moments I could spend in quiet communion with God are far too easy to fill with readymade distractions like my computer or television.

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)

Do you struggle with managing the time you spend on media?

This week’s challenge: Replace a time you would normally surf the internet or watch a movie with silent thought and prayer.