Just Because: “Our challenge… Putting down the phone!”

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Have you ever looked around the room and realised EVERY SINGLE PERSON is looking down… at their phone!  I know this topic of conversation has been making the rounds in the media lately, with many arguing both the positives and negatives for the change in our communication styles due to technological advances (for example:  Gary Turk’s “Look Up” video, or it’s corresponding negative rebuttal).  Believe me, I am just as guilty as many others when it comes to focusing way too much attention on my smart phone!   I have often found myself sitting on the couch looking at my phone, with MH sitting and gurgling away to herself on the rug at my feet, and the LM engaged in imaginative play in his “kitchen”.  I know it’s wonderful to have times when our children can play independently, but shouldn’t I also be basking in this peacefulness and admiring it from the outside in?  Or better still, putting my time to productive use by doing something creative myself (eg. baking – which I love!).   I know, I know… herein lies the problem.  Smart devices can also be creative and productive and a very resourceful use of one’s time.  Connecting with people via our devices can also be of absolute benefit, as can the opportunity to shop online, etc.  I fully appreciate these good points, my personal struggle is more the timing with which I find myself giving my attention to my phone… In situations where I feel it may actually be creating a negative perception for my children about what is “normal” when it comes to communication.  It’s this feeling I am not at all comfortable with.

So all extremist viewpoints aside, my fear is that we as a society are losing sight of the basic skills required in human communication – general courtesy, respect, eye-contact, physical empathy, etc.  I suppose people could argue that communication is simply changing and I need to “get with the program”, but I struggle to see how such physically alienating behaviours can be a good thing?  We’ve all seen the posts on Facebook about “Being an 80’s Kid” or “Living in the 90’s” where outside play was the norm, we rode bikes, made “cubbies”, and helicopter parenting was unheard of.  It’s this physical level of human interaction I’m frightened my children will not have the pleasure of knowing or experiencing as they grow-up.  Kids don’t “hang out” in the street with other kids anymore (I’m hoping you understand my context), some of us barely know our neighbours (and don’t really want to).  I fear we’ve simply lost sight of our innate ability to connect with others on a physical level and as a result we are (as a society) in danger of losing the ability to empathise and genuinely “be” with other people.

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It’s a tough topic to write about because I am so very aware of how diverse peoples opinions around this issue (or non-issue) are… So, with all of this in mind, the questions I’ve been asking myself lately have been:  How can I make this change in “smart device” communication sit comfortably for me?   What examples am I showing my children in day-to-day life?  What can I change in my own behaviour to ensure my children know what I value in communication?  I realised that whilst I can’t control everyone else, I most certainly can control my own behaviour around what I am physically role-modelling to my children.  A very powerful (and “common sense”) realisation!   Then I thought about how my HF and I could do this and hold each other accountable, without arguing endlessly, for the benefit of both ourselves and our family… And it was this challenge we decided to put to each other:

Are we able to commit to putting our technological devices down (be they smartphones, ipads, ipods – whatever!) for those times of the day spent with our children, and in social interactions with others, when our our quality time and attention is absolutely deserved?  

And our answer was simply… YES!

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So how about this for a plan, we are going to:

1.  Place our devices on the kitchen bench (in an allocated spot) and leave them there – ignored and unattended!  If a device needs to be looked at, we must do so standing at the kitchen bench (to make it uncomfortable – no more lazing on the couch, laying in bed, etc).

2.  Devices can only be looked at when all activities with the LM and MH have been completed.   Note:  we have agreed this includes phone calls (people can leave a message and we can phone them back), however this obviously may need to be on a case-by-case basis depending on the nature of the call and what we’re in the middle of doing.

3.  After the children are in bed, devices remain on the kitchen bench and can be checked as required.

4.  Smart devices can be placed on charge, but are not to be used, in the bedroom.

It’s only 4 simple challenges, right?  But I know that as much as I want for this to happen, I also know it’s going to be extremely hard to put into place and maintain.  I guess what we’re hoping is that sooner, rather than later, it will feel more a “chore” to check our devices, rather than the all-day-every-day default behaviour it’s inevitably become for us.  Our goal is to improve and enhance the quality and amount of time we devote to our children, and each other, and extend that experience to those we socialise with (in that our smart devices will no longer make public appearances unless absolutely required).  What do you think?  Is it unrealistic? Can we do it?  I’m not sure, but I’m sure as heck going to give it a try!  I look forward to providing you an update soon.

EDITED (31st July, 2014):   I recently saw this post on Facebook and couldn’t believe what I was reading (but then strangely, I could believe it!).  If we didn’t need proof before as to why we should be putting down our phones and paying attention to  the company, atmosphere, and life happening all around us then we certainly have it now… This is most definitely my biggest DISLIKE of the modern world.   Article link:  http://themetapicture.com/people-kept-complaining-this-restaurant-sucked-look-what-they-found-out/

Take care,

TSM… xx

 

Just Because: My New Year Resolutions…

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Goodbye 2012… And hello 2013!  Do I sound excited at the prospect of a new year?  I certainly hope so, because I am just a little excited.  I’ve decided this year is going to be significantly better for me:  as a partner, as a mother, as a work associate, as an individual.  Infinitely better and kinder than 2012 proved to be.  I’m looking forward to this year for a number of reasons, but most importantly I’ve ear-marked 2013 to begin the re-emergence of “me”.  What this image of “me” will look like, I’m not yet completely sure.  All I know is that she will be strong, capable, and more grounded than ever before (and I wish I could say with less wrinkles, but I don’t think that’s going to happen).

In an effort to achieve this, I thought long and hard about what my goals should be.  Whilst thinking through each goal, I made a very conscious decision to make each of them small and achievable (or “baby steps”).  I didn’t want to set the bar too high because more than likely this would result in my failing to accomplish anything and just feeling worse about myself.  So… “small and achievable steps” was the motto, and I’m hoping the list I’ve put together will enable me to move forward more competently this year – without the unrealistic expectations!   Wish me luck!

Weekly Meal Planning

meal planning Interestingly, the most difficult thing about my postnatal depression experience has been my inability to think about more than one thing at a time.  Many a “melt down” has occurred  due to my  feeling completely overwhelmed with the amount of information being received.  It’s a feeling I’d never encountered before, I’d always been able to multi-task effectively and thus pride myself on getting a great deal done on any given day.  However, such multi-tasking abilities are a luxury for me no more.  When it comes to cooking, when your brain needs to co-ordinate many things at once, I’m at a complete loss… And cooking was something I used to love to do!  The biggest let down is my inability to plan ahead for meals, or think on my feet with regard to what to cook for lunch, dinner, whatever the case may be.  My poor HF has been so understanding, yet I’m surprised he hasn’t withered away with malnutrition.  If it hadn’t been for his very kind culinary assistance during the worst times, that may well have been his reality!  So, this year I have decided to start meal planning.  For 5 nights out of every 7, I will plan meals and structure my shopping list accordingly.  The other 2 nights can take care of themselves, be it leftovers or take-away – whatever we may fancy!  By doing this (and I’m now 2 weeks into it), I feel I’m able to gain back just a little of the control I feel I’ve lost over this particular household chore.  And by gaining back some of that control, I’m now re-discovering the joy I’d long since forgotten that preparing and eating quality family meals provides.  It’s a small victory, but one I’m hoping continues and becomes second nature by years end.

Family Mindfulness

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Why is everyone so busy these days?  I ask myself this question all the time, especially when I feel I don’t even have quality time to spend with my own family!  Everything’s just busy, busy, busy… rush, rush, rush… and I for one am tired of it.  So this is the year for me to focus on making the time I have with my precious family and friends really count.  And by “really count” I mean learning how to exist with one another in a space removed from phones, ipads, ipods, computers, TV, and any other mind-fizzling technology that may throw itself in our way.  It would just be nice to get back to basics, which I believe we do quite nicely from time to time anyway, and really start enjoying each other’s company again.  I found a fantastic tag on Childhood 101’s blog entitled, “Best Life” and it’s filled with wonderful ideas to create the best family environment you possibly can (and I’m sure friends count in this too).  Be sure to have a read for yourself!   Such focus on the quality of life will be a refreshing change and one I’m certainly looking forward to.

Date Nights

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Date nights are something my HF and I try to do regularly anyway, so to have this as one of my goals for 2013 is not too difficult (had to put an easily achievable one in there somewhere, right?).  My biggest frustration from date night has come from my HF’s lack of attention to planning them.  Now it may be said this is my issue, not his, but if left up to him our date night’s simply do not happen.  And given we’d both agreed this would be his area to take charge of, this has proved a bit of an ongoing problem.  So in an effort to rectify this little issue last year (feeling very unloved because we hadn’t been on a date night in a while), I decided to make it easier for him.  I logged onto all the wonderful “cheap deal” sites (you know the ones:  Groupon, Living Social, Cudo, etc) and started buying dinner deals in my local area when they took my fancy.  I would then print off the voucher (ensuring to highlight both the contact details and use by date), and leave them on the fridge.  Of course my plan was communicated to my HF, I didn’t expect he would simply pick up on what I was trying to do, and I must say it is working very nicely for us.  Every 2-3 weeks, my HF organises a babysitter, rings the restaurant on the next-to-expire voucher, and organises our date.  It’s fantastic, and the best part is that my HF doesn’t get stressed about where we should go!  It’s a win-win situation and we always have a really nice time so am hoping we can keep things the same this year.

10 Thoughtful Seconds

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I’m not sure about you, but I tend to say things sometimes without quite thinking about it first.  My biggest problem would be, I think, my tone of voice.  Quite often I don’t intend to say things with a particular “tone”, but invariably it happens and usually the downfall is I may sound fed-up, bored, indifferent, angry, sarcastic, or just not interested.  Whilst I’ll be honest and say my tone does imply the truth at times, it is not always necessary and tends to hurt those it’s inflicted upon.  It is this lack of forethought I find inexcusable and not very fair at all.  So another of my goals this year is to take 10 seconds to think about what it is I’m trying to communicate before I actually say anything.  Now please don’t get me wrong!  This is not an attempt to hide my true feelings, but more to teach myself to be patient, kind, and tolerant – all things I’ve found myself lacking in throughout my PND journey so far.  When speaking to others, regardless of the message you are wanting to communicate, you can do so in a respectful manner.  My most difficult time with this, I’ve now realised, is when I’m feeling overwhelmed and flustered by what is going on around me (and at times, in my head) and thus just “snap” in reply to something being said to me.  The look on people’s faces when I’d do this (and yes, it was usually those closest to me and the ones I care most about) is not something I’m proud of.  Hence my desperately wanting to take the steps this year to improve this negative behaviour.

“Me Time” Weekends

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These past Christmas holidays, I was fortunate enough to be blessed with four days of pure “alone” time, a luxury many mummies out there do not receive often.  My very understanding HF took the boys to holiday with his parents, leaving me with silence my only companion within our home for the first time in nearly two years!  I didn’t know if I’d enjoy it or hate it, embrace it or repel it, but what I did know for certain was that I absolutely “needed” it.

Whilst I missed my boys enormously and couldn’t wait for them to come home, I found the time on my own completely rejuvenating… I woke when I wanted, ate what I wanted, watched what I wanted, read books, drank wine, and went to bed at whatever time I wanted.  It was (and I hope other mum’s out there won’t think I’m terrible for saying the words out loud) PURE BLISS!  Not because my boys weren’t with me, but because for the first time since I’ve had the LM and been diagnosed with PND I was able to operate on my own time, without having to think about anyone else.  Selfish?  Perhaps.  But what I do know is that my family and myself are a great deal better off for this time on my own to re-charge.  This experience has improved our lives significantly.

So much so that my HF and I have since discussed that perhaps this should be something we do maybe twice a year.  A weekend for me, be it either at home while the boys enjoy a weekend away camping, or maybe a weekend by myself in a unit by the ocean somewhere.  Wherever it may be, I think we’ve both now realised such alone time actually makes me a better mum, a better partner, and an innately better person.  It’s perhaps confronting to admit, but the opportunity to shut my mind off from the routine of every day allows me to relax in a way I simply don’t find possible at home when everyone’s around.  Not a bad thing, just different, and for us it seems to work.

And there concludes my goals for 2013!  I’m hoping beyond all hope they are small enough to achieve, but infinitely meaningful enough to make a significant difference in my life.  I’m very much looking forward to where this year will take my wonderful family, but also where it will take me on my journey to becoming a stronger person.

Thanks so much as always and please be sure to share any of your new year resolutions if you have them, I would love to hear about them.

Take care,

TSM… xx

Just Because: My life in numbers…

There’s a little blog roll happening over at G*funk*ified regarding “My Life In Numbers”.  I love this concept and as such have felt compelled to write my own little list and add it to the roll… Here goes:

38 – number of years I’ve been on this earth (I’m only 37 but you have to count that first year, right?)

4 – number of primary schools I went to (one only for 2 weeks)

2 – number of high schools I attended

1 – number of universities I have studied at

6 – number of times I thought I had fallen in love during my life

3 – number of years it took being on my own to understand the importance of self-worth, self-love, and self-respect

1 – number of times I KNEW I had fallen love

5 – number of years I have loved my Handsome Fiance

11 – number of months it took us to conceive

512 – number of days our Little Man has (so far) filled our lives with sunshine

5,329 – (approx) number of times the LM has made me laugh for no particular reason

102 – (approx) number of times he has made me cry

42 – number of times per day I remind the LM to use “gentle hands”

37 – number of different solutions we tried to cure the LM’s eczema

1 – number of allergy tests it took to realise that egg and dairy were the culprits

311 – number of days since admitting I needed help for my Postnatal Depression symptoms

4 – number of people closest to me I felt I could tell straight away

83 – number of days since I’ve felt the weight of my depression may have lifted somewhat

157, 943 – (approx) number of times I have berrated myself for not being “good enough”, trying “hard enough”, or simply being “enough” for my son, family, and friends

157,944 – (approx) number of times I’ve told myself I AM enough, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks 🙂

6 –  number of therapy sessions I’ve gone to this year

2 – number of amazingly inspirational women I’ve personally met who’ve shown me the value in what I’ve so far accomplished

4 – number of words in the name of the organisation I’ve found to be the most incredible support for women experiencing perinatal mental illness… Peach. Tree. Perinatal. Wellness.

84 – (approx) number of connections I’ve made through blogging with women all over the world sharing the same PND  journey

3 – number of days per week I go to work, start my day with a “child-free” coffee, and simply “be” in an adult world

3 – number of days per week I miss the LM like crazy

1 – number of dogs we own

5 – number of times per day I ask the LM to please NOT sit on the dog

1 – number of cats we own

4 – number of times the dog thinks he can take on the cat each day… and loses!

2 – the number of tattoos I have (what?????)

And on that note, I might leave it there… This list could go on forever!

I hope you’re all enjoying a wonderful day and will post again very soon.

Take care,

TSM  xx