Sixteen days into my self-imposed blog break, I woke up and realized I wasn’t doing it right. The break from creating content for this site was a relief, if only as an item removed from my To Do list, but I wasn’t fully doing what I had set August aside to do: listen. So I tweaked my tweaks, so to speak.
I am so tired of people telling me to put down my internet. Frankly, so irritated by people whining about Pinterest giving them perfection anxiety or bemoaning others’ facebook posts. I believe we know instinctively if we’re holding our phones more than our children’s gaze. Collectively, we can tell if online voices are shouting too loudly and we each need to power down for a bit. Why the constant guilt-sharing?
If I rummaged around in the back of my fridge and noticed a moldy something-or-other, I would not need a grave, wistfully-written blog post telling me to gather my courage and walk it to the trash. I would not need a link up of stories pertaining to one’s own trash journey. There is nothing to learn from the tears that were shed in the three steps from the appliance to the wastebasket.
So I am not here to espouse the wonders of going hands-free. In August, I didn’t even go internet-free. I’ve told you in the past about how I’ve taken facebook off of my phone or how sometimes I have to employ Freedom. But those are my issues and I leave you to yours. I’m very libertarian about how one uses the world wide web.
What I needed in August was not a break from the internet, what I needed was a break from my attitude. This summer made me very grumpy. In addition to dropping the quality parent ball, I’ve also been a rather bad friend/sister/wife, if you must know. So, in August, I made a vow to straighten up.
It’s an impossible task to get your heart and desk together in 31 days. Especially when you realize halfway through that you need to re-write your own rules (again). But I was trying. And listening. And that’s more than I was able to do before.
How I adjusted (and then adjusted again):
I got more sleep. If I had changed only one tiny thing, this alone would be a game-changer. Back in LA, my children slept better, which means I slept better. My husband does most morning duty and I forced myself to bed earlier consistently. Wouldn’t you know it that my patience increased ten-fold.
I read a lot. I’ve been reading more for months (thank you, Kindle paperwhite), but now I read without guilt that I should be doing something else. I read a lot at night, which is usually when I tinker with this blog.
I drastically reduced my calendar. We do not lack for fun opportunities, but a lot of them are obligatory in one way or another. And the stress of our life and rambunctious little family meant that my tired self just wasn’t having all that much fun. In fact, evening obligations (either social or otherwise) were making me feel so suffocated that I almost thought I was suffering from social anxiety.
I do not suffer from social anxiety. But I did start saying no. This one took a minute, and a few of the declines made me a little sad. But for the last few weeks I have stripped down where I have to be and the pressure in my chest has eased immensely. You can’t do that all the time, of course, but I bet I cut down my outside-the-house obligations by at least half. Then the few times I did go out with my husband or to see friends, they felt like treats. It felt wonderful. Gone was the feeling of just “getting through” this or that few hours.
On the other hand, we had friends over every weekend. In complete contradiction to what I just said, we entertained at our house often. I was as low-maintenance as humanly possible when it came to these afternoons. I grilled. Or we ordered pizza. Everyone got their own drinks out of the fridge. And after our friends left, we usually indulged in a family nap. I did zero frantic, stressed hostessing. And you know what? I doubt our guests could tell the difference. And we made the best memories. The difference was not in the actual food served or cleanliness of the house before people arrived, the difference was solely in me. This is a lesson I’m still turning over and over.
I started working at the library. In the last week of August, I started writing again a little bit and discovered a library that I love. I like being at home with my kids and in my beautiful office, but I finally had to face the fact that it’s a hindrance to getting real work done. I can accomplish more in two hours at the library than I can in four hours at home.
I walked. I pushed the double stroller ‘round and ‘round. I’m not big on exercise. (Fine, I abhor it.) But walking I can handle. It feels good to be moving, to be nodding at neighbors as we pass.
I ate better. I napped. I prayed. I colored with markers. I watched half a season of Freaks & Geeks. I had good days and bad days and my footing still feels a little unsure. But not like the jello I was stumbling through in July. More like...spongecake? I’m not sure where this metaphor is going.
I’m so glad to be back to the blog. I’m eternally thankful to you for reading. Always.
Spongecake feet and all.