How to LIKE your real life
A manifesto for real-life parenting in a digital era of distraction.
Parenting in the digital age is tricky, and that’s before we’re anywhere near the stage where we have to negotiate our children’s screen time and navigate around their social media access. It’s tricky for us, as parents, because the digital age is so darn distracting! We at OHbaby! don’t claim to have it all together, but we are all committed to doing the best job of looking after our families (including ourselves!) as we can. And we’re aiming for realistic, rather than idealistic! Here are ten efforts we’re making to look up and rise above digital distraction.
I will see my phone for what it really is – a handy communication tool and a massive distraction. When I’m with my kids, I will use my phone for the essentials only. When they’re asleep or not in my care, I will scroll, browse and swipe to my heart’s content.
But, actually, the digital world will never make my heart content. I will embrace this truth and accept the limitations of technology. Real people, real experiences, real food, real books, real views, real rest – these are what really feed my soul.
Everything in moderation. Knowing that swiping and scrolling can do me more harm than good, I will set myself a time limit. Modern technology has worked hard to distract us from any limits, but I still have the power to look at the clock on the wall … or set a timer on the microwave, if I’ve fully moved on from analogue.
If I enjoy using technology for recreation, be it social media, YouTube or Solitaire (no judgement here), I will get some stuff done before I treat myself to a break. Ticking things off on an actual to-do list is uniquely satisfying. I will reward myself for being so productive while at the same time overcoming potential Word Cookies addiction.
I will document family life with photos of milestones, everyday moments and once-in-a-lifetime adventures, but I won’t let my camera dictate my vision – if I miss capturing a moment in pixels, I will be satisfied to capture it in my memory.
I will celebrate the lives of others as I scroll social media – smiling at their wins, feeling compassion for their losses. But if I struggle to stay in celebration and feel the tempting tug of comparison, I will log off. Comparison is the thief of joy and highlight reels are not the same as what life is really like behind the scenes.
I will champion ‘real’ and celebrate truth – sometimes my house looks beautiful and sometimes my kids are remarkably advanced award-winning achievers, but sometimes my house looks normal and my kids behave averagely. I’ve accepted that this is totally okay and if you scroll my social media profile, you will see us making the most of what we’ve got – our strengths and our weaknesses.
I will remember that my little people are watching and they will copy what they see. My normal will become their normal. I will therefore straighten my posture and adjust my focus so most of my attention is directed – with intrigue and delight – at their beautiful faces, their clever hands, their capable bodies. My bent-necked, screen-grabbed focus pales in comparison to real life with my real people.
I will close some tabs, both virtual and otherwise, and aim to do one thing at a time (for the most part – let’s be honest, mama-life demands some multi-tasking). I may have got used to juggling a whole heap of tasks at once, but the results are better when I do one thing at a time. I’ll make a cup of tea, then I’ll read my child a story on the couch, then I’ll reply to the email, then I’ll Google the recipe, then I’ll switch off the screen and finish the cold tea. And then I’ll be fortified to attempt the double-duty of cooking the recipe, with the help of the child.
I will treat myself with the grace and respect I deserve. I can pledge to reach all the idealistic goals I like – heck, I can even post my good intentions online so my friends can be equally ‘inspired’, but I will not beat myself up if I fail. I will Google proven ideas for sticking to one’s resolutions and effectively establishing change in one’s life. No I won’t – I will have a good honest laugh about myself over a cuppa with a friend, and then I will move on. Refresh, reboot, restart. With or without a status update.
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 45 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW