Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Self-control with the computer—it CAN be done!

Confessions of a stay-at-home mom:

I recently put myself on a "computer fast." Yes, a fast. As in no computer. For 3 weeks.

You see, the computer is both my friend and my enemy. It's a great way to keep up with friends and family—as well as research various books, homeschool curriculums, and bargains on clothing for my family. However, I have struggled greatly with the computer absorbing my time, energy, and interest at the neglect of my calling (my calling as a wife/mother).

I have tried numerous times to put boundaries around my computer usage with little success (if any)—even going so far as to make a formal commitment to the Lord... which, sadly, I broke. :(

This time is different. I knew I had to take drastic measures. Lest you think I developed some fantastic self-control, I confess I had to have my husband remove the mouse to prevent me from using the computer. My biggest stumbling block is thinking, "Oh, if I could just check out just this one thing..." and then getting distracted by a multitude of other things. So I will make a list of those "just things one thing"s... and check into them in three weeks.

I chronicled my journey on little sheets of paper and typed it here today—mostly in case someone struggles with the computer as I do, that they would be encouraged that victory can be won!

I frequently walk past the computer and glance at the screen to see if it's on. Nope. Computer fast. Keep walking. In the evening after the kids are in bed, Jon jumps in the shower and I grab my Bible & journal and head out to the patio for some peace-filled time with God. It's been eons since I've had more than 1 quiet time between sunrise and sunset—feels good to wrap up the day with the Lord this way.

I just got home from errand-running and my first thought is I should check email. Then it hits me: computer fast. And I'm OK with it. Actually, I'm more than OK with it. I feel like I am physically AND mentally present in my home, and it feels right. I'm even finding "extra" time on my hands for cleaning and organizing!

Just finished Brandon's homeschool lesson, but realize I can't record it—spreadsheet is on the computer. So I resort to doing it the old fashioned way, with a pencil and paper! Oooh... how novel! I'll transfer it into the spreadsheet when this fast is over.

My almost-6-year-old son finds me and says, "Mom, the mouse is gone." Uhh, what? Oh yeah, the computer mouse. In simple terms I describe to him my hiatus from the computer. His frown and furrowed brow show his displeasure at how this situation affects his own computer status. With a reluctant "OK..." he leaves the room to go turn off the computer... then goes outside to ride his bike instead!

I had a fantastic time outside this afternoon... the boys were having "room time" after lunch, so I grabbed my books, journal, etc. and headed out to the patio... gorgeous day, hot but not too humid, and me sitting under the shady canopy of our maple tree admiring God's creation... the bluest sky with occasional billows of clouds drifting by, birds singing, the deep green of the trees... so peaceful... and my eyes fill with tears as I think, "This must be what heaven is like!" (And I would have missed this moment if I'd had access to the computer!)

Today would have been a good day to have computer access. Two small segments of sidewalk chalk (apparently hidden in my son's pocket) made it into the washer... and the dryer... leaving behind a light blue tint on the ceramic walls of the dryer. The heat must have sort of "sealed in" the color. I tried soap & water, alcohol, Goo-Gone, and a Magic Eraser. No luck. Would've been nice to consult Dear Heloise or Crayola customer service... but I'll survive.

DAY 13
A precious friend who lives on the west coast had twins prematurely about a month ago, and I have been wondering how things are going—so I request brief access to my email, just for an update from her. To my surprise there were 127 new emails in my inbox! I was able to quickly sort through and delete about 85 of them on the spot. (No email from my friend, though. Bummer.) I did open one email from the public library system—a book I had requested was being held—until today—but of course the library closed two hours ago. Rats. :(

DAY 15
So far I have absolutely no regrets about this decision—and no longings to [ever] be connected to the rest of the world on the web! I feel like I have never been a more devoted mother than I am now—I'm not distracted, I think more clearly, I can focus and finish tasks more easily, and spend time with the boys and enjoy it! We've been reading together more, playing & tickling more, homeschool has been going great, etc. I am 100% HERE, at home. It feels right—like this is how it should be... like I am closer to the woman/mother I am called to be. My conscience is clean, and I feel good!

DAY 18
I read an article in "Family Circle" magazine about how technology affects the family. (I didn't even know it was in the magazine when I purchased it for leisure reading while the boys played at the park!) Very insightful about how family members can easily get tuned in to all their gadgets, connecting to everyone else on the planet except the people in their own house!

DAY 21

I'm finally checking my email. It is taking me quiet awhile to sort through my inbox, although the majority of the new mail is notices from advertisers or organizations. I took some time to remove my name from several lists. Was on the computer for over an hour tonight, but all productive time—paying bills and looking things up that were my my "list"—I did what I came to do and then turned the computer off. Feels great!

This has been a good experiment. I have loved getting that monkey off my back! So I've made a resolution: going forward, I will check email only once per week. Anyone who knows me knows they can reach me on the phone if it's urgent. I just know I need to do this—in this season of my life—to honor God, and to benefit my husband and children (and myself!).

Hebrews 12:1-2
...let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus...


Chris said...

Hi Sara - for whenever you see this!

I've enjoyed staying off my blog this summer. I'm starting to miss it, just a little, recently; having a few thoughts of what I could post. But I not sure yet of my status with it all.

I'm inspired by your computer fast. I do the exact same "just check one thing" - mostly every day! And it does get a mom distracted and absorbed away from her home and the people in it.

Once school starts I have a goal of not getting on the computer until after school is finished (not even to check the weather, which would be hard for me!) But you've given me food for thought about the computer in general. thanks!

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

TheUnSoccerMom said...

That sounds awesome!!

I don't get on the computer much at home since I have be on the computer so much for work.

Yay for your self control and Yay for all the fun you've had sans computer! :o)

Sara K. said...

Thank you, friends, for your encouragement! :)