Having my own business, I am fortunate to have flexibility in my schedule. I can’t imagine how full-time working moms do it all. Even working from home, there are days when I don’t know how I’ll get it all done. I suppose society has made life easier in some regards, with online shopping, 24-hour grocery stores and “Smart-phones” so you can contact your partner any time of day to pick up milk on the way home.
There are no excuses anymore! Electronic devices allow us to get more done in less time, so theoretically it shouldn’t be hard to fit in the important things in life, like spending time with our kids.
Unfortunately, sometimes the go-go-go of modern society has its drawbacks. Rather than having down-time, people are constantly tweeting, texting, surfing and blogging, but there is something to be said for having “nothing” to do once in a while. For my birthday this year, my husband kept asking what I wanted to do, and my answer was “Honestly? Nothing!” The idea of staying home without checking email all evening was a gift in itself.
The problem is that “high-speed” everything has taken over our lives. Kids and adults alike are entertained with Wii, Nintendo DS, and Netflix. We’ve forgotten what it means to “chill”. We need constant stimulation and instant gratification.
With all of this technology at our fingertips, I find it interesting that my favourite childhood memories are of being at my cottage. With not so much as a television, we kids spent the first day up there staring at the rectangular wall-unit heater, pretending it was a television and turning the knobs. After a day or two of withdrawal, we forgot about the make-shift “TV” and instead started playing cards, reading “Archie” comics, building forts, and swinging into the lake like Tarzan. We didn’t need any devices – we used our imagination and enjoyed being together without any distractions from the outside world. Roasting marshmallows or cooking breakfast on a campfire with our parents was the highlight of the holiday.
I once heard a boy complain to his dad that he was bored and there was “nothing to do”. The man’s reply was, “Don’t be ridiculous. Only stupid people get bored”. While a little harsh, he had a point. We’ve lost the ability to sit alone with our thoughts while waiting for a friend to arrive. Instead we push buttons on our “Crackberries” to fill the time. Even when people are out together, you see them emailing and texting, which begs the question – why are you with this person if you’d rather be communicating with someone else? We just can’t seem to stop or ever turn off.
I have to say that I am fairly disciplined in that I don’t check email on the weekends. I devote that time to my family and to letting myself re-charge. During the week is a different story though. I spend my days finding little slots of time here and there to get things done. The afternoon is generally my time to catch up on email and get my “office” work done, while the kids are in school and my Salsa Babies classes are done for the day.
The other day my daughter was home from school with a fever during my “work time”. She asked if she could watch a movie, so I got her all cozy and settled in front of the T.V. We were in the same room, and periodically she would ask if I was going to watch the movie with her. I said “Yes honey, I’m watching it with you”. I thought that as long as she could watch her movie, she would be content and wouldn’t mind me typing away on my laptop. She insisted and kept saying, “But Mommy, I thought you were going to watch it with me”.
I realized that it was very important to her that I stop multi-tasking and put all of my energy into being there with her.
I got the message loud and clear. We need to unplug. We need to spend time together that is really together. Our kids deserve our undivided attention once in a while, and we deserve the time out. Sitting there with my daughter in my arms and thinking about how important it was to her that I watch “Nanny MacPhee”, I realized that I had to make it a priority to slow down more often.
So, this summer when I’m on vacation, I hope you’ll bear with me when you get my “out of office” reply, as I won’t be answering email or phone calls. I’ll be busy roasting marshmallows.
Archived from June, 2011.