One of my 13 year old’s favorite sayings right now, when I’m on my cell phone in our hometown of Flower Mound, Texas is, “Mom, get off of Instagram!” And often, more often than I’d like to admit, I am on Instagram and I do need to log off. It’s kind of funny because she’s the whole reason I’m on it in the first place It was the next big thing when she was entering middle school, and our rule is that any of the social media accounts that she would like to have, a parent (often this one right here), has to have it too. So, we both joined Instagram, and then she proceeded to teach me how to use it!
I have been on Facebook for years, as most moms my age are, but earlier this year decided to figure out how to use it for work too (here’s a shameless plug for my FB and Instagram business pages). Anyway, as I’m often on social media for my business posts, etc. my response to the, “mom get off of Instagram (or Facebook)” comment is to say, “but I’m working.” However, how many of you have noticed that if you’re on social media for personal or work purposes, it’s still a huge time sucker any way you look at it? You jump on for a few free minutes and before you know it, you’re lost in social media land and an hour of your life has suddenly disappeared looking at who can remember what?
Here are some tips that have helped me and my family set some much needed boundaries around our electronic usage:
- Turn off the notifications on all of your devices! This includes alerts for social media, groups, email, apps, etc. This was so freeing for me when I first started doing this, as I stopped being controlled by the dinging of my phone and feeling like I needed to respond to it immediately. A little disclaimer here, I do keep the alerts on for my text messages and voicemail when my kids are not with me, as well as my work email during the workday.
- Set time limits! Our kids get one hour on their electronic devices after all schoolwork and chores are completed. They set a timer and then they can play games, watch a show, etc. I try to do this on social media as well, and give myself a time limit, usually about 10 minutes, if I’m checking it during the day.
- Make it a fun game! I like things finished, so for the longest time I’d be on Facebook or Instagram trying to look at all of the posts in my feed. I eventually realized that this was taking way too long, and was getting to be a next to impossible task to complete. So, I turned it into a game instead. I come up with a number of posts I get to like or comment on, depending on how much time I have, and when I’m done I have to log out. I also do this with articles I come across, and usually allow myself one that I get to read, so I need to make sure it’s a good one!
- Plug your electronics into outlets in a room where you don’t sleep! This was a hard one for me personally, but it was already in place for the kids. They each do a short, guided meditation before bed (this can work wonders if your kids have trouble winding down and relaxing before bed), and then we say our goodnights and the electronics are gathered up and plugged in downstairs in the kitchen. For me, someone who loves to read, I was surprised to find that before bed instead of reading on my kindle app, I could be found reading social media feeds night after night. So, I also started plugging my phone into an outlet in the kitchen as well (and yes, we all have old fashion alarm clocks for morning wake ups). On my iPad, I kept my kindle app, and deleted EVERYTHING else, and yes, even Facebook and email. So, I now read my books before bed again, which is great nightly self-care for me!
- Shows and movies need to be watched together! Have you looked around lately and noticed that everyone can now see their favorite shows and movies right on their devices. I totally understand this when you’re traveling, but now, something that was once considered family fun time together is becoming a very individual experience instead. So, we made a house rule that outside of the hour a day of “free” iPad time, if someone wants to watch a show or movie, they need to find someone to watch with them. The kids have to agree on a show, the parents have to agree on a show after the kids are in bed, and family movie time means that we all have to agree on a movie together. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard, but the bottom line is that it’s really about connection and spending quality time together.
- No phones allowed! When we’re at a restaurant, during meals at home, play dates, date night out, etc. we want to be connecting with those we love, so the phone becomes less and less important. It’s here simply for emergencies and to take fun pictures!
What are some ways that you can reel in your electronic usage, so you can be more present, more grounded, and more emotionally connected to the people you love the most in your life? Setting these boundaries is hard, but most definitely worth it!