It’s Time to Put Down My Phone and Stop the Scroll

It’s Time to Put Down My Phone and Stop the Scroll

I kept wanting to write up how my Break Up With Your Phone Challenge went, but it never flowed the way I wanted it to.  And now, with the craziness that is the world and our personal lives right now, I feel like I’ve completely undone the work that was detoxing from my phone.  Last week, I spent on average just under 5 hours a day on my phone, with almost 7 hours on Sunday- yikes! And my anxiety at the end of each day was there to show for it.  

It is so easy to get dragged into the scroll of social media and news headlines in general, and it’s almost impossible to get out of it right now following this crazy Covid-19 pandemic.  Between that and the fact that *spoiler alert* we’re planning to move back to Minneapolis in the very near future, I’ve been trying to “take control” by getting all of the information possible so that we can make all of the right decisions.  But at the end of the day, the time on my phone has been taking me away from peace and leading me right into anxiety. While I may have *some* answers to my questions, and it is good to know what’s going on in the world, diving too deep into the details is only going to lead to a downward spiral that nobody needs. 

Luckily, I have the tools from my phone break up to navigate this crisis without diving too deep into the screen abyss. Hopefully, by sharing some of what I’m going to attempt to get myself back on track, you may be able to break away from your phone or whatever screen you’re also doing the scroll from, and we can refocus on what is happening right in front of us that we can actually control. 

Set Those App Timers

The thing that has helped me most so far (at least before the world got crazy) is setting timers on certain apps so that I can only spend so much time a day on each.  I’m able to do this through a Digital Wellbeing setting already in my phone, but there are also many apps that you can download to help with this.  While it is shocking many days to go in and see how much time I’m spending on certain apps, it’s important in taking control of that time again.  I’ve been able to stick to my less than 30 min each on Facebook and Instagram (especially with only being able to be on them after 7pm due to my Lenten fast!), but I think I’m going to need to add timers or a block on my CNN news app and my Chrome search engine since those are my biggest time wasters the last few days! 

To help with my social media Lent fast, I’ve also downloaded an app called Block in which I can create blocks of time in which I’m not even able to open up different apps during that time.  This has been super helpful in that I don’t even have the option to screw up- unless I check through my browser which I’m really doing my best not to do! By setting up my phone for success, I am able to be more intentional with my time, and actually do what I want to do in my social media rather than get sucked too far in.

Get Your Phone Out of the Bedroom (And the Dining Room!)

Setting up physical boundaries was one of the earlier steps in my phone detox challenge- starting with moving where you charge your phone.  I used to charge my phone right next to my bed so it was the last thing I did before the lights went out and the first thing I did when I woke up.  At first when I moved where I charged it, I tried to do it at our kitchen counter.  However, the way that our space is laid out, it was right within reach of my spot at our dining room table, so I ended up spending mealtimes that were just me and the kids on my phone rather than paying attention to them. 

Instead, I’ve started charging it in the bathroom overnight. I can check it for anything I might’ve missed (which is usually nothing), but then I try to leave it where it is for as long as I can instead of taking it around the house with me.  Throughout the past couple weeks, I’ve gotten back in the habit of using it during kid mealtimes, so I’m going to have to find a new physical place for it to live during those times so that I’m not tempted to use it then!  While this might seem like a good time to check out, I get super ornery with them when they’re “distracting” me from my phone, and that’s not allowing me to be the kind of mom I want to be. 

I might also try to take the physical boundaries a step further in the coming days and give my phone a “bedtime” and “wake-up time” as the How to Break Up With Your Phone book suggests.  That way, I get some wind down time at the end of the night that doesn’t include my phone, and I don’t have to start my day with yet another anxiety-inducing headline. 

Turn to Activities Other than Your Phone

During my phone breakup, I put together this list of activities that I could do rather than my phone.  For me, these are things like reading, making time for prayer, and sudoku puzzles, among others. I’ve been able to incorporate a few of these activities pretty well, but I haven’t been as great at setting myself up for success as I started out.  I’ve found that if I want to read during the day rather than be on my phone, I need to have the book that I want to read in my normal sitting spots and not stashed away somewhere.  Apparently, I’m too lazy to get my book from my bedroom when I’m in the living room, so I might as well just hang out on my phone instead. 

What has surprised me most with having activities that aren’t my phone while the kids are playing is that they will self-entertain much longer if I’m reading my book or Bible on the couch than if I’m on my phone.  The same happened when I was in a habit of doing yoga during Charlie’s nap/Nora’s quiet time- Nora would play around me with little interruptions compared to if I was just hanging out on my phone, expecting her to play. So if nothing else, finding something that you can do other than your phone *may* help your kids play by themselves longer.

I also need to find good activities that I can do with my kids that also keep me entertained- and in writing this sentence, I remembered that I wrote a post about this– go me! We’ve been doing a good amount of coloring, lots of reading, and dabbling in board games for Nora during Charlie’s naps. We’ll see what else I come up with during these few weeks of not really leaving the house (except for the occasional nature walk?) If you’ve got other ideas of things to do with your kids that don’t involve being within six feet of other people- send them my way!

I Think it’s Time for Another Phone Fast

The third weekend of the break up with your phone challenge included a 24 hour phone fast.  I kind of cheated and did it at a time that was convenient for me/ Tony had my phone in case I missed anything.  I think I should probably do another true phone fast one of these days. In truth, we probably should all take the same day away from our phones as a society and just sit inside and do something else that brings us joy. But maybe that’s the introvert in me talking. 

I found that taking that time away from my phone was both freeing and also shocking in how often I wanted to reach for my phone just as a distraction or as a time filler.  I would like to give it another shot so that I can truly reset my brain, my mind, and my soul on the things that really matter and that are happening right in front of me. After the last few weeks of letting the anxiety of the world control me, I think it’s time to take a step away, even if it’s just for 24 hours.

Give Yourself Permission to Just Be

All of this being said, I think one of the biggest things I got out of my break up with your phone challenge was the permission to just let go and *be*.  How often do we take the time to sit back and allow there to be quiet.  I’m definitely not great at it.  So maybe during this time of social distancing and anxiety inducing headlines, we can use the time to allow ourselves to be mindful, to feel what we need to feel, and then to move past it and just be. Allow yourself that quiet that your soul needs and don’t fill it up with all of the things that social media and the news are throwing at us right now. Or at least take a few moments away from it to recenter.

 

I hope that something in here will help you in this crazy time- as one of my friends texted me the other day- WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE! So here’s to a better relationship with my phone this week than last! (And hopefully a much lower average of hours on it per day.) Here’s to social distancing looking like an overreaction rather than coming too late.  And here’s to not going too crazy with our kids bouncing off the walls with nowhere to go.  All I know is my phone isn’t actually helping me get through the days, so it’s time to try other things that will.

Read More: 7 Easy Ways to Start Being a More Present Mom

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10 Activities to Do Instead of Getting Sucked Into My Phone

10 Activities to Do Instead of Getting Sucked Into My Phone

I shared in my last post that Tony and I are working through a 30 Day Break Up With Your Phone Challenge.  It’s going pretty well overall, though I am definitely still very addicted to my phone. I’m noticing the addiction though, so that’s a start 😉 !  On Saturday, our challenge for the day was to figure out some activities to do in place of getting sucked into our phones. It’s Monday night as I write this, and I have yet to truly sit down and figure those out for myself yet (which probably explains the waaaaaay too much time that I spent on it today. Oops).  

I’ve shared before that I often get sucked into my phone in those moments of quiet right after putting Charlie down for his nap or when we finally get both kids down for bedtime.  I usually just need a break where no one is touching me or asking me to do something for them. Sometimes this ends up with me sitting on the couch for almost an hour without resurfacing. When I look up that hour later, I hardly remember what I was even looking at and I don’t usually feel all that refreshed.  Since, I’m on a journey to use my time, even my veg time, more intentionally, I am working on figuring out the activities I can turn to instead of my phone that allow me to veg in a way that’s way more refreshing.

In saying this, I don’t think that taking a brain break on your phone is necessarily bad.  I think it just needs to be a little more intentional than what I’m currently doing.  My phone background now states “What do you want to pay attention to?”  Sometimes that is the posts on Facebook or Instagram, but often, I’m just looking for a way to relax.  Since doing the social media scroll doesn’t often leave me feeling more refreshed, I need to find activities instead of my phone for these moments.  Then I can save the scroll for when that’s what I actually want to do so that I can be a little more intentional in that time.  

I checked out quite a few lists of activities to do instead of my phone online, and many of them included ideas outside of the home.  Since I stay at home with my three and one year old, there aren’t a lot of times I can just leave the house and do something by myself.  That being said, going out somewhere with my kids does prevent me from using my phone as much as I do at home!  Plus, in general, I am a much better mom when we are out and about than when we’re just hanging out at home.

So here’s my list of activities that I can do instead of getting sucked into my phone.  I hope to incorporate these into the times I usually pick up my phone while I’m just hanging around the house with the kids, as well as in those quiet moments where I’m just needing something to occupy my hands while I relax.  Most are activities that I can do at home with minimal prep work. And also minimal cleanup since my toddler’s hands tend to get into EVERYTHING.  I’m thinking about posting this list somewhere in my house so that I can turn to these and have a plan for what to do rather than going straight to my phone. It’s time to start some new habits and hobbies!

1) Reading

I have a goal to read at least three books a month this year.  The last couple days, I’ve been attempting to read an “easy reader” novel (in book form!) while the kids are playing instead of going on my phone. Then at night or when I’m able to focus better, I have a book that I need to pay a little more attention to (I’m still reading Dorothy Day’s A Long Loneliness from Advent).  I figure if the kids see me reading, they’ll just want to read more too!

2) Prayer Time

I really do try to incorporate some sort of meditation/prayer time into my every day life. With that being said, how often do I sit down on my phone for an hour, but only take 15 minutes (if that!) to pray? I definitely could switch those times around and grow so much more spiritually and as a person. 

3) Yoga/Pilates

I’ve always been pretty into yoga, but I’ve never kept up with it regularly.  Since starting this challenge, Tony and I have been attempting to do a 20-30 minute YouTube Yoga video (I’m a big fan of these ones!) every night right after we get the kids to bed.  It’s been a great way to start our night and keeps us from falling into the phone/TV trap as soon as we sit down. I’ve also been pulling out my yoga mat some afternoons while Nora is awake during Charlie’s nap. She’ll sometimes do some things with me, but often will just play on her own, and I get a little exercise in.

4) Coloring

I have a couple of Adult Coloring Books that are so relaxing when I actually get into them.  I’ve actually forgotten about doing this, so I’ll have to pull them out of our guest/now Charlie’s room so that I can actually do them when the feeling strikes.  What’s nice about coloring is that you can see what you’ve done with your time, but it’s still pretty mindless. Plus, it’s a good thing to do while chatting or listening to a podcast! 

5) Sudoku/Crosswords

I saw this idea when I was doing a quick search of my own for ideas of activities to do instead of my phone.  I used to be very into Sudoku puzzles, and I have an app for it on my phone, but I haven’t done a paper one in quite some time! I’m thinking I’ll go out and get an activity book or two with crossword puzzles, word searches, sudoku puzzles, and whatever else to work on during my downtime. Building up my brain is never a bad thing!

6) Cross Stitch/Knitting/Crafting

This one requires a little bit of prep work to get the materials ready, but I keep seeing people doing cross stitch lately, and I’m very interested.  One of my friends said it’s not too bad to do around kids, so I’ll have to look into that. Knitting is another crafty thing that doesn’t require too much brain power (once I relearn how to do it!).  I’m finding that I need to exercise my right side brain and get that creative itch taken care of a little better, so what better way than to start a new crafting hobby.

7) 15 Min Declutters

While not quite as relaxing, I’ve been really getting into doing 15 Minute Declutters.  Sometimes I set a timer, but more often I just sit down and take whatever time it takes to go through a small area. Tonight, I sorted through the kids socks, sweatshirts, and shoes, and now everything is in its place.  Decluttering is one of those things that I have to force myself to start, but I usually enjoy the process, and I definitely enjoy the end result. 

8) Baking

I’m currently deciding if I want to get into baking. I love baking (and the results from baking), but I have a lack of people to bake for/ I probably shouldn’t eat the entire batch of cookies every time I make them.  I’d love to learn more about making my own bread, or maybe some “healthier” baking. Or I just need to make more friends/babies to eat my baked goods.  Either way, it’s another slightly mindless activity that results in something much better than what my phone can bring.

9) Call a Friend

While I often want to just relax and talk to nobody for awhile once the kids are in bed, I do have days where I just need a little extra adult chatter time.  Especially now that Charlie is actually sleeping at night, I have a good chunk of time available to catch up and build relationships with friends and family that I’ve not been as good about keeping in touch with over the past year.  While I use the phone in these conversations, it’s much more intentional than the social media scroll.

10) Nap/ Go to Bed Early

And for my last activity I could do instead of going on my phone. I can just use that time to sleep.  Pretty self explanatory 😉

10 Activities to do Instead of Getting Sucked Into My Phone

So that’s my quick list of activities to do instead of getting sucked into my phone. I’d love to hear what ideas you have or if there’s anything that has been working well for you! Find me on Instagram and Facebook or send me a message here with your ideas!

Read More: Why I’m Breaking Up With My Phone

Read More: Self Care for the Mom That Thinks She Doesn’t Need It

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Why I’m Breaking Up With My Phone

Why I’m Breaking Up With My Phone

My husband texted me the other day asking if I’d consider doing the 30 day break up with your phone challenge from his book with him. And for the first time that he’s asked me to do something like this, I didn’t take it personally- it was actually something that I had been thinking about.  And so, I just said that I was interested in learning more about it. When I got home, he handed me the book “How to Break Up With Your Phone” by Catherine Price. Upon reading the introduction, I knew that breaking up with my phone was something that I needed to do.

Why I'm Breaking Up With My Phone

During the introduction of the book, the author leads you through the Smartphone Compulsion Test developed by Dr. David Greenfield which basically shows that any person with a smartphone could probably be diagnosed with a psychiatric addiction worthy of meeting with a therapist.  How scary (but probably true!) is that? She also touches on the effects that smartphones have on our brains, mental health, relationships, attention spans, and so much more. I had kind of known many of these things before reading it, but having them all listed in the same place was quite eye-opening.

A couple weeks ago, I lost my phone from 10am until that night when my husband got home and could call it for me.  I kept trying to look for it, but to no avail. And the way that my youngest likes to hide things, it could really have been anywhere.  At first, I felt so anxious- what if something happened to my husband and he needed me? What if I needed to contact someone myself? How was I going to take pictures of the cute things my kids were doing? What if one of the people I followed on Instagram posted something really interesting and I *gasp* missed it?  I say this slightly facetiously, but I actually thought these things. And I know that I’m not the only one who feels this way when their phone is lost. It’s kind of silly when you sit down to really think about it. 

I read an article recently comparing parents’ phone addictions to secondhand smoke and felt so convicted.  Instead of having the physical effects that secondhand smoke has, our smartphone use may have social and developmental effects on our children.  And just like society had a hard time kicking smoking to the side, we’re going to have a hard time kicking phone addiction to the side too.  What’s so sad is that our children are not getting the eye contact, communication, and emotional support necessary to help them learn and develop important social skills because we’re too sucked into our phones (Read this article too!). Plus, how can I expect my children to not watch their screens when their mom is so obviously on her screen?    

via MEME

And it’s not only affecting my children, but my own life as well. The New Year brought its onslaught of resolutions into my life.  I’ve begun to do yoga more regularly. I’m trying to really incorporate more book reading in my life. I want to be much better about having a daily prayer time.  There are so many things to be done around the house. I’d like to call my people more, invite our friends over, and go out to see them. And maybe I’d even like to pick up a hobby, get a little crafty?  Start baking more? Get really into organizing? But who has time for all of these things? Me, probably, if I wouldn’t waste all of my free time on my phone.  

And finally, if my word for the year is truly going to be “Quiet,” it seems that God is calling me to truly dig a little deeper and find more opportunities for that quiet.  Breaking up with my phone seems to be one of those opportunities.  Our phones give us such a source of disquiet every time we look at them. I feel the pull of more more more every time I go into it. I’ve got to check my email, my Instagram, my Facebook, maybe I’ll pop over to Pinterest, oh, what’s the weather going to be this week, that’s an interesting notification from CNN, I should get that thing from Amazon. And on and on it goes.

And not all of it is bad. I do need the mental break to just veg sometimes. Plus, I really do learn so much from the articles, Instagram captions, and blog posts that I read.  I feel more connected to my loved ones when I see the pictures that they share. I love receiving the Blessed Is She devotionals, theSkimm news updates, and so much more to my inbox daily. These things are good, and I find joy and learn from so much of them. But at the same time, I’ll really be okay if I miss something.  So it’s time to start being intentional and break up with my phone.

Why I'm Breaking Up With My Phone

So, my husband and I are starting in on author Catherine Price’s method to break up with our phones. We’re currently on Day Two and my favorite thing about it so far is that she’s not calling us to completely quit our phones, but instead to use them as a tool rather than letting them use us. I’m excited to see how we get there. In the meantime, this break up might mean that I write less, or it might even mean that I write more. Who knows?! But it should be a journey. And it’s a much needed journey for both my husband and I.  I’m excited to share how breaking up with my phone truly goes with all of you in thirty days.

Read More: 7 Easy Ways to Start Being a More Present Mom

Read More: An Advent of Quiet- Finding My Word of the Year

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An Advent of Quiet- Finding My Word of the Year

An Advent of Quiet- Finding My Word of the Year

Happy New Year! It’s a new year and not only that, a new decade. And with that, it seems that everyone is really taking the time to look back over the past decade and then figure out their words of the year or resolutions for the next. While, I like to say that I’m not one for most resolutions (we definitely ate Taco Bell at 8pm on New Years Day), I’m a sucker for a good opportunity to think about the things I would like to grow in in the upcoming year. And so I’ve been reflecting on the past and looking toward what I’d like to change in the future- thus entering the Advent of Quiet. 

An Advent of Quiet

At the beginning of Advent, I was starting to think through what I wanted my “word of the year” to be for 2020. I’d never really done a word of the year before, but it seems to be all the vogue along with making a resolution right now.  As I was praying about it, the word “quiet” kept coming up.  I laughed at this at first, since I have a very loud house with two rowdy toddlers, a silly husband, and two vocal cats. But as I took the time to think about it, I realized that all of this makes the quiet that much more important. 

After thinking about it some more, I checked out Jen Fulwiler’s random word of the year generator, just to see if something better would come. I got the word “Comfort.”  And then I heard about Dayspring’s word of the year quiz and took that too. I got the word “Rest.” So I think the Lord is trying to tell me something this year.

You see, I am someone who tends to worry too much about things that I cannot control. I put expectations on myself that nobody else has for me. I say I’m a perfectionist in recovery, when I’m actually still just a perfectionist. The past five years have consisted of us jumping from life change to life change, getting married, having babies, and moving all over the place. Between that, unreasonable expectations of how much I can get done in a day and then filling up the little quiet time I have with social media and other junk, I’m tired.

And so going into Advent, I decided I didn’t want to be all of those things. I wanted to slow down and not do every thing that people say you “have” to do during the holidays. I chose the few things that I wanted to do with my kids.  We only did the activities that brought us joy, and we went right through Advent and Christmas with hardly any stress. It was groundbreaking- I didn’t have to take my kids to see Christmas lights or do a million little Christmas crafts if I didn’t want to. Instead, I took the time to pray and reflect on the past year, on what Advent really meant, and what I’m looking forward to in the future. And it was so good.

We’re at a crossroads in our family right now, so there’s a lot to pray about. We will probably be moving soon, and that might mean living in a real, adult house. Which means we’ll be first time homeowners with no idea how to do that. We also are starting to think about if/when we want to add another child to the family.  Do we want to fill up our minivan or slow it way down? We’re figuring out what we want to prioritize in our lives and how we’re going to get there.  We are deciding what we want our family to look like, the values and traditions we want to start, and what kind of people we want to raise. All of these big changes and decisions seem to be coming at us at once. 

Normally, the Type A planner in me would be freaking out at the fact that we have no true plan for what is going to happen over the next year. But God is doing good work in me, and I feel a lot of peace instead.  I think my slow, “quiet” Advent has a lot to do with that. And so, I want to bring that into the New Year. But because I am a Type A planner, I do have a little bit of a plan for how I want to make quiet my word of the year. 

Make More Quiet Moments

This will be my greatest challenge this year- making more quiet moments.  I’m finding that if I am not intentional in creating the quiet time that I need, then I don’t get that time. And as I’m learning more about myself, I know that having that time is important to my mental, physical, and spiritual health. As we are in a transition to no naps with our almost three year old, this is getting a little tricky.  At the same time, our one year old is finally sleeping through the night so that opens up a whole new world.  The following are the times that I am trying to block off for quiet time.

1) Nap time

Even with our three year old not napping as often anymore, we all need our break during the day.  So whether it’s quiet time in our rooms or a little extra screen time for the toddler, nap time is the best time to get a dedicated block of quiet every day. 

2) Post Bedtime

Up until a month or so ago, Charlie had his first wake-up within two hours of going to bed, giving us little to no time at night to settle into any sort of quiet. While, my husband and I like to have time at night to catch up and hang out, it’s nice every couple of nights to have intentional quiet time on each of our own parts instead.

3) Weekly Holy Hour

This is my biggest change for this year- adding in a dedicated time of quiet prayer every week. It takes a little more planning ahead of time with my husband, but the couple of times I’ve made it work so far, it has been such a fruitful and refreshing time for me. 

Making My Quiet Time Intentional

The step after creating the time is actually using the time “productively.”  Sometimes, that looks like prayer time or reading a book. Other times, it looks like taking a nap myself! I took quite a few naps during Advent and it was so good. Often my prayer time or book reading will turn into a nap and that’s okay too.  The point of investing in a quiet time is to refresh and rest up so that I can go back at it again with a full spirit, so that I can be more present.  

I also struggle with filling all of my quiet, me time with chores or things off of my to do list rather than taking the time to rest and to invest back into myself.  One of the things I’ve been working on lately is fitting many of my to do’s in while the kids are awake and self-entertaining (or at least not actively getting into trouble). That way once they’re down for naps or bed, I can take that time to do the things that fill me up instead of chores. 

Limiting Social Media

Social media is my biggest detractor from intentional quiet time.  Many times, as soon as I get the kids down for their naps/quiet time, I sit down on the couch, start my scrolling on social media, and sometimes don’t look up until I hear a cry from one of their rooms.  There are so many beautiful things that people are sharing and not enough time to read and see them all. I so want to be a part of the different groups and conversations that I see happening, but as I get more involved and sucked in, I lose the quiet time that I really need for myself.  So, I’m figuring out where my personal boundaries are with social media. 

I’m also finding that starting this blog did not help with figuring out those boundaries. Some of you may have noticed that I took a step back from posting during the holidays, and that’s because I was so bogged down with the social media updating that tends to go along with blogging that I got lost in it.  Now that I’ve taken time to quiet everything and refresh, I am working on finding the right balance to how much social media I do with the blog. I’m hoping to just do what’s bringing me joy, helping others some, and only as God’s calling me. 

An Advent of Quiet

So thanks for sticking with me! I’m excited to see what God breathes into this year through my quiet time. And I hope that you will be able to find some quiet time for yourself as well- even if your “word” isn’t quiet. Let me know what your resolutions or words of the year are over on Facebook or Instagram!  It should be a good one- 2020. Here’s to the Advent of Quiet!

Read More: 7 Easy Ways to Start Being a More Present Mom 

Read More: Self Care for the Mom that Thinks She Doesn’t Need It

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