I have a love-hate relationship with my smartphone.
It helps me so much it is hard to imagine how I got along without it. I can check the weather without turning on the TV in the morning. I can look up a recipe while at the supermarket so that I won't forget any essential ingredients. I can text my husband to say "Where are you?" when he wanders off at Costco (the answer is electronics). I can pull up a saint or prayer to match my need or situation. I can keep a grumpy two year old entertained when dinner is delayed at the too-fancy-for-toddlers-what-were-we-thinking restaurant. I can access an email to remind me of the address of my destination, and then just touch the screen to make that address turn into a map and directions on how to get there. I can find the location of the nearest Starbucks. I can check Goodreads to find a book recommendation or to enter a title I found while shopping so that I can later look it up on the library website. I can check my library website! I can chuckle at something on twitter, follow a link to a new website or interesting article that inspires me or gets me to think. I can see what my friends are up to on Facebook. I can take pictures when I've forgotten my camera and email the pictures to my husband at work. I can even use it as a phone to call my mom.
All of these are good things. I would even go so far as to say that make my life smoother. Easier. Better.
I am finding it difficult to be AWAY from it. I have a bit of a "my precious" Gollum thing going on and it is becoming a problem.
Some days of being a SAHM to three boys are so busy I hardly have time at all, let alone any to waste. Other times...well, my days can involve a lot of waiting around. I wait for school to get out, for practice to be over, for scouts to be done, for the last minute warning on the playground to expire...you get the idea. I still think these are great times to use the smartphone. Why not? The perfect way to kill five minutes when no when needs anything from me anyway. The problem is that I am finding it hard to stick to these five minutes. It becomes a habit, you see. A habit that begins to creep into other parts of my day. Parts that I intended to actually use for something else, whether it is reading or writing or exercising or interacting with my child.
Seriously. Did I just type that? Have there been times I have actually shushed my not-going-to-be-a-baby-forever two year old so that I could check twitter? Yes.Yes there have. Not just one or two times but enough of them that I am sitting here writing about this on a Wednesday night. There have also been plenty of afternoons when I've put the baby down for a nap, sat down with my phone and suddenly realized it was time to wake the baby to pick up the older boys. The horrible realization sinks in that NOTHING was accomplished. Nothing. An hour and a half of my day gone with nothing to show for it. I read some twitter and followed some links, checked out Facebook and got a little jealous of friends who seemed to be having a fabulous week compared to my fairly drab one. It would be different if I felt particularly relaxed or refreshed for my wasted time, but I don't.
Now. There are good things about twitter. And Facebook. I enjoy being able to connect with friends who live far away. I enjoy the fact that I've met new friends on the internet and can cheer for them when good things happen or pray for them when they need it. I don't think the sights themselves are the problem (although that last little bit about my friend's fabulous week is a bit telling, isn't it?). The problem is my tendency to fail to maintain moderation. Not every day, not all the time, but enough that it has started to bother me.
So what to do? Luckily, the Church has a solution! Who would have thought something as old as the Roman Catholic Church would have a solution for such a 21st century problem? (Well, lots of people but that's a topic for another day...) LENT is my solution.
My first reaction was to get rid of the smartphone all together. I'll unplug completely! From the computer too! No email, no Facebook no Twitter! Cold turkey baby! I'm going to be so old school! I'll finish novels! I'll knit baby blankets! I'll send people snail mail and they will love it! Hey...I did say I sometimes have trouble with moderation. I actually do need to be able to check my email...people expect me to respond, after all. Sometimes they are telling me where to be and when to get there and it is pretty handy to be able to look up where I am going on a map instead of just getting lost. I honestly have no idea how I would ever be able to get anything from the library with a two year old in tow without reserving it first. The internet, and the smartphone can be extremely helpful. It is a tool and when put to purposeful use a pretty good one. No need to throw the smartphone out with the bathwater.
I'm still working out the details. Maybe no twitter, Facebook, blog reading or other time-sucking activities on the phone at all (I haven't even gotten around to mentioning Words with Friends!). I could only let myself indulge in these things when I am willing to take the time to sit down at an actual computer. Maybe even with that I'll limit myself to 1/2 hour a night. OR maybe not at ALL except on Sundays. Then I'll give myself permission to catch up with everything (if I still want to...there is certainly a limit to how long I am going to care about reading a random tweet from four days ago and really is that how I am going to want to spend my Sundays? I doubt it.) I'm not sure what it is going to look like. I've still got some time to figure it out with Lent starting so late this year but I do know that my overall goal is to be more PURPOSEFUL with my time. It seems to be so limited these days. If you can tell what is important to a person by how they spend their time, then I want to make sure that the way I spend my time reflects what is important to me. While I do think my kids can handle me having a little personal time and it is unlikely I will stop "shushing" them anytime soon as they are LOUD and seem to be ON ALL THE TIME, I don't want them to confuse "my precious" with what is actually precious to me: Faith, Family, Friends, Books...not the smartphone.