For some time now I’ve noticed an unwelcome change in my relaxation habits. In the brief snippets of time when I’m not cooking, cleaning or wrangling a small child, I spend my freedom checking Facebook and becoming not a little obsessed with the pages dedicated to Tumblr.
I knew when I got my first smartphone (only a year ago would you believe!) that this was likely to happen. That placing the internet at my fingertips was the foundation for an unhealthy obsession. I don’t think I’ve quite reached the need for an intervention yet, but I’m getting there… one unnecessary click at a time.
Having my Son has actually compounded the problem. I find myself escaping into the simplistic, nonsense of social media as a way of giving my super-alert Mama brain a break. When he settles in for a feed its rare he will be calm enough for me to read a book so I pick up my phone instead. The only reason I no longer spend hours each night trawling my various Facebook groups is because the light has started distracting the little Munchkin from his night feeds.
But I keep telling myself that this isn’t a problem. That I’m allowed to indulge this need for no-thinking as a balance for the high-energy, high-intensity of parenting. This is of course a spectacularly flawed excuse; the glare from the screen and the impact of bright images and tiny text on my brain is doubtless just as (if not far more) intense than he ever could be. The difference is it feels less taxing. But even that isn’t real, just as illusion of relaxation.
The trick of social media seems to me to be that, like fizzy pop and tubes of crisps, it just leaves you wanting more. Hence as soon as you put it down you’re itching to be back, checking every few minutes for any new update or notification. The satisfaction received is not real, it has no longevity, its a quick fix. And as I am discovering recently, in the face of the madness of parenting (or any intense situation), a quick fix just isn’t going to cut it.
I’ve received various messages over recent weeks – some direct, some less so – telling me that I need to find a way to regain my down time. For the sake of my self, my health and my little one I need to start finding and using real ways to relax and recover when the opportunity arises. Then this morning I say this on my Facebook feed:
That’s when I realised that my excuses were just that: excuses. Weak and flimsy reasons to take the easy route whilst ignoring the fact that the easy route is perhaps doing the most damage.
I talk a lot here and at WtW gatherings about the importance of taking notice, being present and finding moments of connection in life, no matter how small. I realised today how futile it is of me to encourage others to do those things if I can’t at least attempt them myself.
This is not about me being an expert or guru or anything so vain. It is simply about me offering my own wisdom and advice to myself and taking it. Apparently I needed to hear it from a meditating frog for it to really sink in but, hey, why judge?!
So I’m trying to step back to my Self, to put the phone down and be in those moments when I feel most tired or most in need of escape. Instead of Facebooking I’m breathing, feeling the weight of my boy in my arms, watching his determined attempts to crawl across the duvet and imagining the sky outside how it might look through the closed curtains.
And in the moments between those breaths and that imagining I am finding feelings and images and thoughts all flowing into the space that once felt so desperate to be filled with memes. Now I am exploring what its like to fill myself with the sky, to feel the clouds wrap around me, to dig myself deep into the earth and rest there until the Boy is ready to feed again. I realise that this is meditation. Not a rigorous practise that feels like one more pressure in an already high-pressure day, but a moment in time to take notice, to be with my Self and to be inspired by my imagination and the World around me.
And do you know what? I already feel better for it.