Updated: Dec 14, 2020
My son is completely addicted to his devices - and who isn’t right now? I know I am guilty of it. I take responsibility because we have become completely lax on screen time during this pandemic…aren’t we all…and if you’re managing that well…what is your secret?? However, after scaring myself watching THE SOCIAL NETWORK and binging the podcast, THE RABBIT HOLE, we had to put an end to the ridiculous amount of screen time going on in this house, particularly with YouTube. We have put timers and blocks on the kids devices but over time we get busy and we become less diligent of our monitoring.
I was noticing the mood swings my son would have when he spent too much time in front of a screen, so we sat down and had a little conversation about balance. I told my son that screen time is ok, especially when doing good learning activities, but in moderation as long as he is finding other ways to stimulate his brain throughout the day. I told him to make a list of things he likes to do outside of electronic devices and then put down next to each thing on the the list the amount of time he wishes to spend doing those things - things like playing with his endless toys that go untouched, practicing his music lesson, doing art, and playing outside. We had him write down about how much time he would like to spend doing those activities so we could add it all up and see if the numbers are balanced - a great activity for him because he loves adding numbers! We then divided those things into three categories, work, play, and development. Some things he was able to put under multiple categories. He added up the total of each category and viola…life lesson on balanced achieved! I could now pat myself on the back and say, “Well done you!”…..but then of course, we get busy again and slide into old habits…but such is life.
I am just as attached to my screen as my kids and I struggle to find balance or to practice what I preach. I tend to teach with the parenting style: do as I say, not as I do - but I don't think this goes over too well with the kiddos. I am all too familiar with negative thought spirals of feeling like a failure, like a bad mom, stressing about how I need to focus more on balance myself…but then I realized - trying to maintain perfectly balanced day/week/year…is impossible - and I have decided to accept it and be okay with that.
I find striving for balance triggers this perfectionist mentality in me and from experience, this does not do well for my emotional health. Yes, some days I can plan out a highly productive day dedicating close to equal time to the different areas of my life, but sometimes I need, or even want to put all my focus and drive into one specific project, sometimes all I can do is life admin stuff, sometimes I need or want to do nothing at all but puzzle and watch TV….maybe that is balance…or is it unbalanced balance?…I don’t know what it is, but it is about finding what works for me and not putting too many expectations on myself.
Our society tends to put so much value on how busy and how productive we are which leads to these unrealistic, unmet expectations we put on ourselves and those around us. I used to feel lazy if I’m not juggling five different projects at one time or I’m filled with guilt when I think I could be doing more. I still battle these thoughts sometimes but I’m working on being more deliberate in where put my time and energy. It has become unhealthy for me to maintain such an intense level of productivity because I end up juggling too many hats to the point that all of them start to fall and I start to feel like a failure in all the different directions I'm being pulled. I wish I was superhuman - but alas, I am far from it!
I recognize I have a tendency of filling my plate, taking on more than I can handle, as a distraction from other issues in my life, and I have learned that is not a healthy place for me to be. I have to pay attention to my reasoning behind my level of productivity. I have to ask, "Am I avoiding things I really need to deal with or am I taking appropriate action to better my life situation and the world around me?" These are the questions I would rather be asking myself when planning out my day/week/life and let go of the pressure of keeping it all balanced.
I would love to hear how other people deal with the pressure of needing to be productive or how you view having a balanced or unbalanced life.