Turning the Screen Off
Disconnecting from social media helped me reconnect with my children.
Being a Stay-at-home Mom can feel isolating, especially if you have young children at home with you.
There was a time, when my youngest was a baby and my other son was no bigger than a grasshopper's hind leg, that I felt alone in a sea of diapers and burp cloths. The days would drag on between naps and nursing and I needed a network of people that I could reach out to.
Social media became a lifeline for me at a time when I needed a connection. Between finding friends from my past, new friends, and eventually blogging friends, I felt a sense of community whenever I logged in.
At first I only checked in when the kids were napping. Grabbing a handful of minutes to read everyone's updates to get a sense that I was an active part of the world outside of my home.
Slowly but surely, I spent more time on the computer and found myself escaping my children to get my Facebook fix. I started looking for validation that I was important to my cyber-friends. I fell into the dreaded trap of leaving a comment then obsessing about checking to see if someone had commented on my comment, so that I could leave another comment about their comment.
It was a pretend conversation in an alternate universe that simply was not tangible, and sometimes my day depended on it. Not to downplay the connections that I've made on Facebook, I've really enjoyed the friendships found and maintained there, yet as time went on, I noticed a shift in how it made me fell about myself and my life.
The truth is that Facebook actually makes me feel kind of lonely. What started out as a place to feel a sense of community often leaves me feeling more alone than ever. You can't reach out and get a hug through the computer screen. Seeing the lives that my friends present on their Timeline can make me feel listless. The funny thing is that I go there searching to feel full but in the end, I am often left feeling empty.
I recently realized a simple truth: what you pay attention to thrives. It's all too easy to look outside for validation, especially if you feel alone in motherhood. Yet, all of the love and attention that I've needed has been right here with me this whole time. I can actually reach out and touch it, hold it, smell it, kiss it.
When I've started to feel the isolation creeping in, I turn off the screen and spend time with my kids.
The results have been amazing. We are playing games, snuggling, reading books, and having a great time together. I still check in with my Facebook friends but I make sure to engage with children first.
I never anticipated that my life would one day be summed up by the lyrics of a bad country song but it's true. I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I feel that turning the computer off switched on all the love in my life.
Do you use social media? Does it ever get in the way of time you could be spending with your children? Do you feel that you can find real connections online? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.