Miscellany

Maybe I Shouldn’t Have Internet in My Home

So, it’s Elul.  It’s that time of year for introspection, and thoughts of self-improvement, and taking a good, hard look at what’s been working for us and what hasn’t been.  Rosh Chodesh came and went, and amid the hubbub of moving and having all my kids home with me all day, I was feeling kind of “meh” about it, really.  It’s not that I didn’t care, per se, about this extremely important month, I was just tired and overwhelmed, and there was no room in my head for even thinking about anything.  Full stop.  The end.

I know I’m not the only Mommy out there who feels somewhat disconnected to this time of year.  My daily routine now is a far, far cry from my daily routine as an idealistic girl in seminary.  Anyways, before I get stuck reminiscing about the days when I was able to daven in the bomb shelter on Neve campus, in relative quiet and with more concentration that I can usually muster these days, let me get back to my point.

The challenge

On Shabbos, my husband and I were discussing what goals we would like to work on for this year.  I have a certain challenge which has been bugging me/us for a about a year and a half now.  It’s been gradually becoming more of a challenge, and I’ve been working on other things, so it’s become an overgrown weed in the garden of my character traits.  And I think this is the year for pulling it out.  But I was wondering what incentive I could use that would actually work.  I’m really, really good at talking myself out of things, and rationalizing, and all that kind of stuff.

We brainstormed and came up with the idea that whenever I slip up, I don’t get to go online on my laptop for the rest of the day.

Duhn duhn duhnnnnnnnnnn,

what?
what?

The incident

Well, around 11:30 on Sunday a slip up happened.  It was pretty minor, but it still happened.  And my husband was working until 10 pm that night, which would have been PERFECT for spending some quality time on Pinterest, or whatever.  But now I couldn’t.  My initial reaction was dread.  What was I going to doooooooo all night?  I didn’t even have a good book to read, and I couldn’t go to the library with all my kids and reasonably find a book for myself.

My next thought was how to somehow find a loophole, but I knew that this was a litmus test of sorts.  If I didn’t stay strong now, at the beginning of this challenge, there was no way I was going to eradicate this behavior from my life.  So an internetless night it was.

The hard truth

After the kids were all sleeping, and I was facing the formidable silence of my house, I realized that this “punishment” was what it took to get me to be productive in my house.  For the past week or so, I’ve been talking a big game about how it’s so hard to unpack after a full day with the kids, and how I’m just so tired blah blah blah.  Really, what a lot of it was, was that I just wanted to vegetate online and not do anything else.

Lame.

Relaxation is super important, and everyone really does need to unwind and recharge.  Yes.  Do that.  But that’s not what I was doing.  What I was doing was an impressive amount of time wasting.  And I was embarrassed to admit it (and so grateful to my husband for not giving me a hard time about it).

So, in just that one night, I unpacked quite a few boxes, cleaned some dishes, put away the toys and, get this, rearranged the living room furniture.

Can you imagine how much I would accomplish if I weren’t constantly distracted by looking up videos of goats yelling?

The takeaway

At the end of the day, we’re not getting rid of the internet in our home, and that’s okay (but seriously, ask your LOR, don’t go by me).  I have met some amazing women online who I am so thrilled to know, and I hope to get to meet someday.  I’ve gotten encouragement; I’ve laughed really, really hard; I’ve cried.  You know, I’ve emoted online a lot through this computer.  But really, I miss emoting in real life, too.  And as a SAHM whose entire afternoon is blocked in by nap time, it’s hard sometimes to find other humans to connect to outside of my computer, so I’m happy to have you all at this point in my life.  Awwwww.

IMG_2206

But I don’t want to be sucked into the vortex of online and forget how amazing it feels to be productive IRL.  I’m toying with the idea of just having certain times that I go online, and if I don’t get everything done, I don’t.  It will most likely still be there tomorrow.

What do you think?  Is it also hard for you to not cross the line from relaxation to vegetation?  

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48 thoughts on “Maybe I Shouldn’t Have Internet in My Home

  1. Good point, my wife is constantly harping on me for spending too much time online, I happen to be a blogger, but you’re right sometimes we just need to unplug and relax :)

  2. Hi Rivki! Great post- I really relate re: the internet- it can be somewhat useful OR a total life-waster. I just moved, too. And I loved what you said about the garden of middos.
    Miss you,
    Shosh

  3. I just spent the whole week doing pretty much nothing after having been quite ill and completely not in the frame of mind. I was surprised last night at how great I then felt when I got through washing my dishes, finished sticking into my recipe book and wrapped several gifts all of which stuff has been lying around for ages. So I definitely get your point! I decided that I would come home from work, relax for half an hour, and then potter around the house gettting stuff done until dinner time when I could relax some more. And it felt so great getting some of the stuff I’ve been needing to do out of my hair. Setting boundaries as to when you are going to relax and when you are going to get stuff done is, I guess, what it’s about for me and is particularly of the moment given last week’s parshah. Of course, there are those moments which are supremely enjoyable when I spur of the moment do the opposite of what I intend and I can’t discount the deliciousness of doing that.

    1. I’m glad you’re feeling better! It sounds like you also experienced a whirlwind of energy and productivity! Love it. It does feel great. I’m so glad you also made the point of how delicious it can be when we step outside our boundaries sometimes to do something spontaneous. Life’s a balancing act that way.

  4. Yes, I often cross that line. I’m always exhausted, working full time then coming home to a messy house, need to cook and clean, laundry, etc. I admit, sometimes, under the guise of relaxing, I sit down in my room, and don’t get up to do a thing. I guess that’s veggying (sp?) Out.

    1. Exactly. We’re exhausted and doing anything just feels impossible. Sometimes, when I’m more in the motivated state of mind, I can convince myself to just start doing one thing, or just clean up for ten minutes before I start to veg out, and sometimes that’s enough to get me going. But sometimes I’m just too tired!

  5. I use the seven weeks before Easter for being online at certain limited times only. (In that case I wouldn’t be writing this comment now, for example.) And it’s always – so hard and still such a relief, and yes, RL suddenly becomes far more exciting. I always hope it will affect the other 45 weeks of the year, but it never does. Well, it does, a little. Maybe your text is an additional help. :-) (On the other hand, it makes me want to read more of your blog. It’s all your fault! Hmmm… No, I’m not going to ask you to stop blogging,)

    1. Haha, it’s a catch-22! Are those seven weeks the Lenten season? We always do hope that times of heightened spiritual practice will leave their impression on the regular year, but spiritual growth is usually a slow process, so sometimes our progress is not so discernible.

  6. I soooo relate to this. I use Internet to procrastinate from doing my homework. It’s one of the things that really bothers me. If I really want to relax, I will read a book, but if I’m on the computer supposed to be doing homework, I will constantly check out websites, read DIY blogs… I would love to be able to focus!

    1. It’s really tricky! Sometimes I want to filter out all the other sites when I’m online so I can’t get as distracted. I would make it so that my husband would know the password and I wouldn’t.

    2. Lenten season, exactly, that’s what it’s called. Originally, you’re supposed to fast during that time, many people don’t drink alcohol or eat chocolate for seven weeks. I don’t do that (I don’t drink much anyway, and I don’t see a positive meaning in a life without chocolate…). I do without other things that I’m addicted to. It’s always a rewarding time.(Elul is something similiar…?)

  7. I know that the times I’ve been without my laptop or even Internet have been crazy productive. I definitely need to start imposing times for myself when I just get stuff done around the house. Thanks for the inspiration/reminder!

    1. And how. I wonder about the blogs who get a ton of comments – at what point do you stop commenting back? I love how interactive it can be (and you have great comments on your blog!), but at what point does a blogger’s success work against that sense of give and take? You know?

  8. This is SUCH a good post!
    It’s so easy to sit down for “just a few minutes” and then before we know it the clock ticked so quickly and we wonder where time went.
    And I’ve found recently that there are a lot of nice ways to relax-without a computer and without the internet.
    It’s easy to get pulled in…and it’s hard to pull ourselves away. But with little steps, we can get there. And I like the idea of doing something productive so you have something to show for yourself at the end of an internet-free night. Good for you!
    Thanks for the inspiration! :-)

      1. I never responded to this one-I’m so sorry!
        Yes, we can relax at the computer-no doubt about it-but time moves faster than we can imagine…going on a walk (in the afternoon or if it’s safe in your neighborhood at night), reading a real book/magazine that ends when you’re done (and doesn’t continue with never ending links from page to page :-) ) and even organizing can also be a nice way to relax and feel accomplished when you’re done. I also love baking by myself when the house is quiet. I find that very relaxing and it feels good to have a finished product when I’m finished. Hmm…what else?
        When all else fails, if you need to relax, go take a nice hot shower and go to bed early! That is way more relaxing than spending time on the computer and watching your night run away!

        1. Oh my, if I could master taking a shower and going to bed early my whole family would benefit! I think I’ll put that on my self-improvement checklist and try to do it at least once a month (I like to start small). :)

  9. You took the words out of my mouth….and I’m typing this as I still need to pack up the entire house in a week and a half! Oy vey, vegetating online has stalled my life out. I need to have more self control…

  10. Davening at Neve, those were the good old days… I don’t think I will ever have kavanah like I did then. I totally relate to the mindless Internet time. After I put my girls to bed, I tell myself I will sit down for 30 minutes and then get up and do someting productive, but I usually never get back out of bed. Its a mindless trap of sitting and clicking. Thanks for the little push of a post though… maybe I should keep the iPad near the dishes and toy strewn floors instead of the quiet of my room, and I too will get something done. Good luck with your internet challenge.

    1. Neve was a world apart, that’s for sure. Good luck to you, too. You could always just set the timer for 20 minutes or something, and be productive during that time. It’s usually enough of a push to quiet the yetzer hara for long enough to overcome the initial urge. :)

  11. Great post! I would love to make a day internet free in my home (well, another one, aside from Shabbos) but it’s so hard. Especially with my husband’s work being mostly internet-based and my school year starting soon and there’s so much to order, set up, plan… My tiny goal instead this summer was not to be online when my children are awake. Which means I only get on after they’re asleep or if they’re napping/at a friend’s house. It’s been working ok, but now the closer I get to school starting, the more I want/need to get on and finish working on my start-of-the-year lesson plans (and spending time on other teachers’ blogs and Pinterest and the thousand other things I can justify as “preparing for work” but are really time-wasters). Also night time is when my husband is home and we usually watch something together (again, ask your LOR =) ) in the evenings so I get less done at night than I’d like.

    Anyway, I think my takeaway from this is limits. Set them, stick to them, and see what happens. You might even surprise yourself! Thanks for a(nother) terrific post!

    1. It’s hard to draw the line between preparing for work and wasting time. It’s not so clear cut! When you’re spending time with your husband, that’s for sure getting something done! Yay for shalom bayis! :)

  12. this is great rivki. just emailed it to a bunch of women who were in a class with me last night. we were talking about the dangers of “idle time” and how we all say “we’re so busy”…but with what, exactly? So many times I’ve considered leaving Facebook (and I know I’m a Facebook crazy woman) but I really do think there is more good than harm that I am achieving thereby. I hope I’m right :)

    1. Thanks, Ruchi! I wonder what people wasted time on in the shtetl, you know? I’m seriously curious. And I guess we’ll find out in 120 how productive we really were online. Oooooo. Scary.

  13. I got away from my usual many hours of Internet time when we went on our cruise three weeks ago. The Internet on the ships are incredibly slow and expensive. I did suffer some withdrawal. Give it up? Never! Reduce, that’s OK.

  14. Oy, this resonates for me. I’ve often imagined sending my power adapter to work with my husband every morning, so that I have to finish all computer-dependent work within the two hours it takes for the battery to die. I’m also a habitual internet time-waster. Maybe it’s time to cut the cord. Thanks for reminding me!

  15. Hi I’m a lurker who occasionally swings by. After years of vacillating between “spending time online is relaxation, and I need relaxation!” and “I am wasting my liiiiife, and I can’t stop myself” we blocked off the internet through the router and it’s only available at certain times. This helps a lot, and kills many birds with one stone.

  16. Hi Rivki. First, I want you to know that I love how refreshing your blog is, how candid you are, and how you deal with stressful situations with such grace and humor!

    Relating to your problem, I am very empathetic. I am job searching and spend most of my day on the internet. It is so easy, even when you think you’re being productive, to get distracted and let the whole day go by. One way I’ve tried to curb this habit is by making myself a schedule for the day. Once I get all the tasks I need to do done, I give myself 1 hour of “fun time”. When that hour is up, my computer turns off for the night. I’ve also started assigning myself various household tasks (cleaning the bathroom,etc.) during the week so I am forced to get off the computer.

    I hope we can both conquer this bad habit and make this new year one of positive changes. A belated Shana tova to you!

    1. Hi I.H.! Amen, and thank you for the suggestions. I can imagine that working online would pose a great challenge to most people’s willpower.

      Since I wrote the post, I’ve found it easier to be offline more and more frequently, and I think I must be getting some siyatta d’shmaya in that area. May we both be successful!

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