Chopping Vegetables

We got home from the beach this afternoon. It was all action stations, unpacking, tidying, dinner preparation. I managed to find half an hour where I was inside, alone, chopping vegetables for dinner (with an empty fridge an a kitchen full of bags, tonight it was roast veggies and tuna for the kids and tofu red curry for the grownups). The kids were playing happily in the backyard and there was a brief moment of blissful quiet.

I poured a glass of wine and, out of habit, I set my laptop up and went to youtube, to check the channels I like to watch and see which had updated while we were away. This habit of watching a screen while I’m cooking, using it as a reward, has become such a compulsion I whipped my laptop out before the third child had closed the back door on their way out. I realised how slow it had made me at dinner time, forever stopping to search for the next clip to watch, pausing to listen to whatever was being shown or said, forgetting where I was up to with my cooking.

Clogging my mind with more: more junk, more thoughts, more noise.

I thought of my 2018 intentions and I closed the laptop. I put on some classical music, this, and was amazed by the beauty of it, by the way my thoughts – actual real-time thoughts – flowed, by the way my thumb whipped and curled around the curves of the potatoes as I peeled and chopped, grit collecting underneath my nails and noise releasing from my head, dissolving into the air around me.

Over the years I have slowly but incessantly become reliant on screens to entertain me, to fill me up, to add bulk to moments of natural quiet throughout my day. Sometimes I enjoy it, but I am increasingly feeling frustrated at losing my train of thought, at turning on a screen before I even realise what I am doing, at feeling foggy-headed and full, just so full of other people’s thoughts and lives and details. Sometimes by the end of the day I feel so overstimulated I can barely think. It’s something I’m trying to be mindful of, to be aware of what is happening for me when I’m reaching for my phone, for entertainment, for external stimuli. It’s time I thought about my own screen time, not just that of the girls.

Dinner was served at 6pm. The hoards came inside. The next wave of the day began.

I survived

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So it turns out I am perfectly capable of living a normal life outside of social media, without turning into Gollum searching for The Ring. After the first few days, I actually didn’t miss it at all!

The other day I downloaded Instagram onto my phone again. I’ve clicked the app maybe five times in the last three or four days, as opposed to five times in an hour that I was capable of previously.

I can now sit down and think, my mind feels clear, my feet are on the ground.

I was sitting at the traffic lights during the week and I looked into the window of the car next to me. I saw a two year old in his seat, tapping away eagerly on a screen of some sort. This time spent away from social media has really made me think (again) about the place screens play in our lives. How seamlessly they slip, unassuming, into the fabric of our homes.

We bought an iPad last Christmas for KB’s work. I have used it a handful of times and actually forgot we had it until about six weeks ago, when the girls asked if they could watch ABC KIDS on it. They sometimes have a go on one at their Nan and Pa’s place, and surprisingly (or not?) they knew how to use it better than I did. Since that day they have asked to use it constantly, and being so bedraggled I started to say yes. Before I knew it they were having iPad time every afternoon and started to cry if I said no.

What have I done!?

I think it’s unrealistic while I’ve got such a small baby that I ban screens altogether (I’m actually just not willing to put myself through that right now… for better or worse) but I am so conscious and conflicted as their world is saturated with technology, unlike my own childhood… it just doesn’t feel right.

We’ve got some thinking to do, that’s for certain.

time without

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It’s been almost a week since I deleted Instagram, Twitter and Facebook from my phone and decided to take a break from the noisy world of social media. I’ve been monitoring myself and my behaviour which I’m pleased to say has changed over the past six days. Countless times initially I went to pick up my phone to check Instagram, or I thought of something I could take a picture of to post, or someone’s account I should go and look at. None of these actions or thoughts seem particularly sinister, but when I’m having them in the middle of doing something else (cooking dinner, eating, playing with the girls, doing the washing…) and would normally interrupt myself to act on them, I have realised what a disruptive role it is playing in my life.

On Sunday I was home alone with Peach. I sat on the couch to feed her and watched the entire sunset through the window. It made me feel grounded, real. It made me realise how being attached to screens all the time makes me feel flimsy and disconnected.

It’s interesting to sit back and observe sometimes. And funny that today I barely gave Instagram a thought. I do miss it, but I want to be able to enjoy it without the compulsion to be on it constantly. I hope that I can reflect on all this and decide how I want my relationship with social media and my phone to move forward. There is so much more I want to say on this topic but I am typing left handed in bed with a baby sleeping (finally!) on my chest…

On another note I’ve got the dreaded cough/cold large (again) and have this sitting on my kitchen bench. It will be ready tomorrow morning and I really hope it works! I’m also sipping away on ginger, turmeric, lemon, apple cider vinegar and honey tea. I pour it into my drink bottle to sip while I’m out and about. Any other (breastfeeding friendly) tried and true home remedies for me? I always like to add new ones to my list.