In my first post on this topic I talked about the many ways social media can be used for the good. I’m going to qualify that now: All the good done online isn’t worth your compromising your home life. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I think for a lot of people it can be a real challenge. And by a lot of people I mean me.
Frankly, this internet-usage thing snuck up on me. I wasn’t so interested in being on the computer at home until I started staying home more. Then, with the vast expanse of time laid out before me, and all that housework just waiting to be procrastinated, well, it was a natural move.
It would start by me looking up a recipe, or ways to get rid of fruit flies or something, and then I would think to myself,
“Well, as long as I’m here, I might as well check my email.”
And then it became,
“Well, as long as I’m here, I might as well check my email and my Facebook.”
And so on until it was,
“Well, now I’m here so I can check my email, Facebook, blog, Twitter, forums, networking sites, blaaaaaaah.”
And that would be a lot of the time, even when my kids were up and husband home. Not at first, but gradually. Now, I’m not saying that it’s wrong to be online when your kids are up and/or husband is home (I know I’m old-fashioned and all, but still). I’m saying that I realized that I was missing out on opportunities to connect with my loved ones because I was so busy connecting with the internet.
I mean, I’m not neglecting my kids or anything (no, really, I’m only neglecting my housework), but I do think that I could be enjoying them more. Everyone tells me that they are going to be grown up before I know it, and I will be seriously annoyed if instead of watching their cute antics, I was checking my Facebook status. As far as my husband is concerned, if I’m careful to not be on the phone when my husband comes home from work (yes, I actually do that), why isn’t the computer subject to the exact same rules?
My approach won’t work for everyone (I can just picture the WAHMs shaking their heads), but I think that everyone can find boundaries that work for them. Try inserting “non-work related internet sites” whenever I say “internet,” and maybe my idea could be adaptable to your life.
When setting these boundaries, I tried to find the happy place between idealism and realism. I wanted to succeed at this, not to feel guilty for failing. So, I needed to find limits that would provide me with ample time to accomplish what I want/need to do online, but which would provide for plenty of time without the internet to distract me from what I feel I should be doing in my “real” life.
What I Do
My first boundary is that I’m not allowed to go on the computer for any reason until I’ve davened in the morning. If davening is not currently on your agenda, you could use sending the kids off to school, or a load of laundry being done, etc. as your boundary. Basically, take something that you struggle with accomplishing in the morning and make the internet an incentive to get it done. I’ve found it very effective.
Lately (as in, since last week), I’ve added an extra time constraint. I am no longer using the internet between 2pm and 8pm. At all. Even if the kids are napping and my husband is at work.
My first instinct with this particular boundary was to make the no-internet time zone applicable only when the kids were awake, but my mom pointed out to me that I will get so much more done when the kids aren’t underfoot (ain’t that the truth), so I should take advantage of the time that they are sleeping to do things around the house, not to sit in front of the computer. And she was absolutely right (as usual).
A final boundary is how late I can stay up. I’m a night owl by nature, and I struggle with going to sleep at a decent time. I like to write my posts at night, when I can actually (kind of) concentrate, and it can be tempting to stay up really late. But, as you can imagine, I really feel it in the morning. So, I try to go to bed at a reasonable hour, even if it means not finishing something. I’m still working on this one, though. It’s a little tricky.
A way to stay off the computer even when there’ s an idea or post that I “just have to share/jot down” is to keep a pad of paper handy (mine is on the fridge), and when an idea strikes I write it down there. With a pen. You know, with ink. Then, when it’s time to go online again I haven’t forgotten.
If you’re not into having an internet-free time zone, you could always check Facebook (or your email, or twitter, or blog comments) only at certain intervals. Let’s say every hour, or every two hours. Chances are, whatever the notification is, it can wait for a couple hours. If it’s extremely urgent, I would hope the person has your phone number to get in touch with you.
What I’ve noticed in the short time that I’ve implemented my internet boundaries is that I am far more productive. It’s actually astounding. The house is cleaner, the laundry folded in a prompt manner, toys picked up and rotated, and I’ve actually finished projects that have been sitting around for a while. I’m more patient with my kids because I’m less distracted. Really, I’m just much more present in whatever it is I’m doing, and that makes me happier. And who doesn’t want to be happier?
Also, since the amount of time I can spend online is diminished, I tend to be more focused and productive when I am online, which is a good thing.
Those are some ways I’ve set boundaries for my internet use. What are some boundaries you’ve set for yourself?
image via Wikipedia
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