Parental Tips to help with Technology Addictions in Children

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I have such a love/hate relationship with all of it – social media, the internet, the world wide web – THE WHOLE KIT AND KABOODLE, especially with the onslaught of doom and gloom and opinions that constantly barrage our minds and souls and suck us dry in our mental capacities because we just don’t have enough brain cells to encompass it all.

As a newbie writer I’m repeatedly told that no one will ever read my words if I don’t have a platform, but as a person, I’m not really into the platform concept!  I’m extremely introverted. I get all bunched up in knots if someone doesn’t agree with me or like me anymore.  I don’t so much mind sharing pieces of my life with the world, but I do mind when strangers begin to throw rocks at my words or my family because they don’t agree with something or they are simply in a pattern of self loathing and decide to take it out on me.

I do participate in the online world in a pretty large capacity especially with shopping as it offers an extremely appealing convenience factor where I live. I order at least 50% groceries online through Walmart of Amazon.  I also order (and sell) lots of kid’s clothes through different apps.  I buy makeup and oils and diffusers and castile soap and mailboxes and pillows and anything and everything that won’t spoil, and I love it.  Not only do I save on gas, but I also save on time and by ordering in bulk I earn free shipping and additional discounts.  Love, love, love this part of the internet.

I also love the accessibility the internet offers for anything and everything.  Yoga classes, there’s an app (or a hundred!) for that. Online cookbooks? Done. Online books?  Got it. At your fingertips.  Want to learn a new skill?  Youtube has you covered.

Social media has also been really good to me for the most part.  I’ve been able to reach people and audiences and cultivate meaningful relationships through this venue like no other but… social media has an ugly down side as well, and it is known as addiction. I never really considered myself an addict until I had my last baby, and I nursed her. A LOT. Like half of my day I had a baby stuck to my chest. When I nursed my other children I sat on the couch and watched Oprah or Ellen or soap operas.  When I nursed Annabelle I stared at my phone, which had the convenience factor of being able to go anywhere with me, and for many (MANY!) nights this ritual went on for hours on end. Scientifically speaking, our social media habits release dopamine, a feel good high, just like drugs or sex or alcohol, and every time we see another like or a positive comment or receive a text, we are feeding into our addiction. Two years after having  Annabelle, (so basically a few months ago), I recognized this unhealthy trait in myself and decided it needed addressing.   I couldn’t go anywhere without my phone or tablet nearby.  What if one of the kids did or said something cute and I had to show or tell the world? What if I had a thought I had to write down? What if someone sent an email? Or a text?  What if another person commented on my photo on Instagram, and I didn’t see the comment within the appropriate two second time span?  Oh my goodness, the world may stop!

Seriously.  My brain was in full blown addiction mode, and this is what I noticed about my behavior.

1.      I was highly anxious.  I believe that with the ability to have social media at our finger tips 24/7          comes also the ability to (unfortunately) know way too much at all times.  My brain was on                absolute overload with the amount of information I was obtaining via social media.  Every                  disaster, every high, every celebrity commenting on anything.  TOO MUCH INFORMATION.

2.       I was suffering from bouts of depression. I believe this stemmed from a lack of being present             in my own life. I couldn’t truly enjoy anything: baking bread, sweeping leaves, watching the               kids play, or reading a book, because I was constantly on high alert with my tablet sitting right           beside me.  What was I missing in the online world?  I was pretty sure something was                         going to pass me by because I wasn’t fully engaged at all times, but in reality, my life was                   passing me by because I wasn’t fully engaged!

3.       I was always running out of time.  Social media is a big honkin time sucker. I found I could               easily spend hours on my phone or tablet – especially while nursing a baby who did not really             enjoy sleeping.

I’m not completely healed of my addiction to social media and the internet in general, but I have found a few coping mechanisms which I have implemented that have helped to rewire my brain back to a semi normal state of being.

1.       Absolutely no phones or tablets after 8:00 pm. The kids all go to their rooms at 8:00 at night.             Some read, some watch a movie, some are actually told to turn out their lights and go to sleep,           but Ryan and I have down time together from 8:00-10:00. No kids, no phones, no tablets.  We           talk about our day, watch a show, and enjoy one another’s company.

2.       I eliminated all social media apps from my phone.  This has been extremely helpful when I’m             on the go.  I’d like to say I never picked up my phone to check out something while I’m in the           car, but that would be a lie. Red light taking too long? Better check out Facebook.  Slow line at           the stop sign?  Good thing I have Instagram to waste time with. Need gas?  Better take these               five minutes to check out Twitter rather than clean out my car.  You get the point. I’m                         considering eliminating my smart phone altogether and buying one of those pay as you go                   deals, but I’m not quite there yet.

3.       I also unfollowed almost everyone on Facebook – including friends and family.  I know,                     extreme, but I didn’t necessarily want to know what perfect strangers (or anybody for that                   matter) did all day long.  I don’t want to be bombarded with news (good or bad) that I’m not               mentally prepared to deal with, and I was sick of forming judgements because of something               that was shared out of context on social media. Now, if I like or comment on Facebook it is                 because I was thinking about that particular person and decided to see what they were up to by           going to their page and investigating.

4.       I narrowed down my social media load.  I like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest but never               really got into snapchat or twitter or a bunch of other ones.  I’m a creature of habit, and when I           figure something out, I tend to stick with it. I decided to focus on the ones that I enjoy and let             the chips fall where they may with the rest.  I can’t do it all.  I can’t be on every social media             platform and still be a present mom, wife, and all around person. 

5.       I turned off notifications.  No more being bossed around by the ding indicating a new text or               email, and I turned the ringer off.  I check my phone for texts and calls on my time. 

6.      We haven’t implemented this one yet but it’s coming for the whole family this Sunday.  We are          unplugging. Phones, tablets, computers, done. Taking a day of rest for our eyes and our souls.            Most of us will be okay with this act but some of us will really struggle (Tate, Caleb, and                    myself). I trust, it’ll be good.  I hope to connect more as a family, enjoy one another, and laugh            together as we watch football or some silly movie.  Stay tuned.  I’ll post on this specifically in            the coming weeks and how we’ve been affected. 

Those are my takeaways so far, but admittedly, I still have a ways to go to get back to a healthy state of mind, and I have crossed a few boundaries in the last week or so as I’m organizing a re-launch team for my book Sunlight Burning at Midnight – which (shameless plug time) if you’re interested in being a part of, fill out this application,  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc_Q7rO2BEfqhB1CjSIU4_5TcuUkedvNeGzYlR6pBNK9CfAYw/viewform and we’ll see if it’s a good fit.  I’ll be picking my team on October 30th. Anyone else struggle with any of this?  Any suggestions for what works for you?  Let me know!  I think we could all benefit from a little less media madness and whole lot more mindfulness in our lives. 

Just keep livin!

Mother’s Day Sale and Interview

Just a few items for consideration as you go about your week.

First – In honor of all of the wonderful mothers, grandmothers, and motherly figures in the world, I’m offering a Buy One / Get One 1/2 off sale on all autographed copies of Sunlight Burning at Midnight ordered here on the blog and also at Facebook/jessplusthemess.  It’s the perfect time to buy one for yourself and then gift another to that special someone in your life. This sale will be honored all the way through to Mother’s Day – May 14.  If you’d like the books sent to different addresses, please send me a message at jessplusthemess@gmail.com, and I’ll be happy to accommodate those requests.

Also – If you missed the big WCRV (100.7) For Life and Liberty interview that aired the other day, feel free to check it out below as I talk about grief, raising chickens and children in the middle of nowhere and how my husband has absolutely no problem sharing all his feelings.

http://www.jessplusthemess.com/audio/05-01-17_For_Life_and_Liberty_Jessica_Ronne.mp3

 

Just keep livin!!

Cartful of Marriage Drama.

Hello friends,

I’m here to interrupt your regularly scheduled Facebook drama to involve you in an ongoing debate between me and my husband and this innate object –

You see, this controversy began on our second official date when Ryan brought me to his hometown in Oklahoma, and we ventured out to the local Walmart where he asked me to “grab a basket,” and I actually grabbed a basket, you know the smaller receptacles used if you only need to get a few items instead of the bigger receptacles (called carts) used if you have lots of items to purchase.  That was my first experience with a cart being referred to as a basket. While we lived in Michigan, our debate was limited to these two terms (cart or basket), and then we moved to Tennessee where I called the object a cart and was looked at like I had lost my mind, and Ryan called it a basket and he was looked at the same way and that is because apparently folks out here refer to them as buggies.

 The cart/basket/buggy issue needs some resolution once and for all so let’s visit dictionary.com to help us out.

Cart – 

1. a heavy two-wheeled vehicle, commonly without springs, drawn by mules, oxen, or the like, used for the conveyance of heavy goods.

2. a light two-wheeled vehicle with springs, drawn by a horse or pony.

3. any small vehicle pushed or pulled by hand.

4. Obsolete. a chariot.

Interesting…  number 3 seems to fit the description of the above object perfectly.

Basket –

1. a container made of twigs, rushes, thin strips of wood, or other flexible material woven together.

2. a container made of pieces of thin veneer, used for packing berries, vegetables, etc.

3. the amount contained in a basket; a basketful: 

4. anything like a basket in shape or use: 

5. any group of things or different things grouped as a unit; a package; package deal: 

6. the car or gondola suspended beneath a balloon, as for carrying passengers or scientific instruments into the atmosphere.

I suppose an argument could be made for number four, but I think we’re pushing it a bit there. 

And lastly,

Buggy –

1. a light, four-wheeled, horse-drawn carriage with a single seat and a transverse spring.

2. (in India) a light, two-wheeled carriage with a folding top.

3. baby carriage.

4. Older Slang. an automobile, especially an old or dilapidated one.

5. a small wagon or truck for transporting heavy materials, as coal in a mine or freshly mixed concrete at a construction site, for short distances.

6. Metallurgy. a car, as for transporting ingots or charges for open-hearth furnaces.

7. any of various small vehicles adapted for use on a given terrain, as on sand beaches or swamps

There you have it.  Feel free to draw your own conclusion. Thank you and you’re welcome.

Now we can all get on with stressing over the bigger issues of life.

Just keep livin!

Thankfulness in ALL Circumstances

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Life –

Has really beat me up lately.

Has disappointed me.

Has been exhausting.

I have everything I ever wanted – a beautiful family, a country home, a book that my own two hands wrote on the verge of publication, a dream job teaching at a community college – the only thing left on the ole’ bucket list is renovating a villa in Tuscany.

But I ache for some reason.  Ache for peace.  What in the world is this about?  I sound like a spoiled brat don’t I? I’m anxious, short with my family, on edge over everything I should be doing but just can’t seem to find the time to do ( I’m pretty sure my youngest plays a role in this problem #hugemessmakeralldaylong…) Why? I ask as I trudge along my familiar walking path.  Why do I feel this way? Why can’t I be more present rather than constantly obsessing about what is not happening? I pause to listen as the carefree birds chirp all around.  I pick up the pace, stepping into thick cobwebs woven through overgrown trees that stick to my body like silly string.

One foot in front of the other – up and down the rocky, red terrain, therapy and penance serving the same purpose as I question these feelings.   

Ryan and I are not our best selves nor at our best togetherness right now.  I often expect him to make me happy which he can never do, and I know this, but knowledge doesn’t eliminate expectation.   I can’t even put my finger on what exactly is going on with us, but there is this need to just get through another day.  Exhaustion over the past few years has definitely crept into our life.  Our hard, simple life has caused conversations between us, the words softly asked, “Is it worth it?”  Causing us to question a life we were so excited to start only three years ago but now feels difficult in the midst of sleep deprivation and so many responsibilities. He and I still talk, often, but instead of whispering sweet nothings it’s more common to hear bickering and short choppy answers to questions riddled in reality such as,  “honey, can you pick up some more chicken food tomorrow because we ran out three days ago…”    

I adore my baby, but she is one.  Is there a one-year-old on the planet who is easy?  Man alive, I dare say she is more difficult right now than the other seven kids combined, and speaking of those other kids,  they attend school, and I take care of their basic needs: cooking, cleaning, laundry, tucking into bed at night, but there aren’t many opportunities for real connections lately. 

The same could be said for my spiritual life.  My prayers are short whispers, “Lord give me grace, Lord give me strength, Lord hold my hand as I walk this weary path.” I’m holding on for dear life in this season and it doesn’t feel right – it doesn’t feel authentic – it doesn’t encompass peace, and it certainly doesn’t feel like “just keep livin!” – it feels fraudulent to even end my posts with this exclamation lately.    

And I think – how do I replace the weariness with gladness? With joy once again? With peace?  How do I get to a place of energy and engagement? Am I supposed to change my thinking through the weariness?  Change my heart?  Change my perspective?  How Lord?  I ask, as I pluck the beautiful wildflowers out of their natural habitat and place them in the stroller.   

Be Thankful.

Thankfulness.  Gratefulness.  Could it possibly be that simple? I whisper to the Heavens.  

Thankfulness brings peace – at least what the Word says. Do I choose to believe this?

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:21

Thank you Lord. 

Just keep livin!