The Carnival of Natural Parenting issued a challenge for all participants in January. We were to commit to one week of more “natural living,” experimenting with something we typically do not do. I had committed myself to simplifying our lives through an experiment in minimalism and purging “stuff” from our life. However, halfway through this experiment, I decided to tackle a second experiment. I really would like to share the results of our household purge and will do so in a second post tomorrow. Today, I will focus on going offline.
Before Christmas I posed a question to my Natural Parents Network mama friends. I was curious to find out if they felt their mothering was negatively, positively, or not at all affected by blogging and social networking commitments. Personally, I feel as though blogging and social networking distracts me from parenting even when I am physically present with Tiny.
The responses were varied and wide although most everyone did agree that they were either stretched too thin at times, found themselves distracted by blogging or social networking, or felt guilty about not keeping up with their blogs and/or parental responsibilities.
Four NPN volunteers (Amy from Peace 4 Parents, Dionna from Code Name Mama, Adrienne from Mommying My Way, and I) decided to go offline from December 27th to January 2nd to see what impact, if any, blogging and social networking really had on our mothering.
I have discussed my love-hate relationship with social networking before. Feel free to revisit Social Networking – A Mother's Best Friend, Arch Enemy, Or Something In Between. I followed that up with Social Networking – Finding Balance. Clearly, this is an issue that I have not been able to fully resolve for myself yet. I was hoping that going offline would really provide me some clarity.
And then I was thrown a curve ball – sort of.
Tiny and I woke up pretty sick on the 28th. We stayed pretty sick until the 1st. You have to get a clear understanding of Tiny sick to see why my experiment failed. You see, when Tiny gets sick she turns into a Tasmanian devil on every upper invented flying around faster than the speed of light. This is understating it a bit too. My child's energy level is beyond comprehension or explanation. In the span of 10 minutes she had completely emptied my kitchen and everything she could reach (which is lot since we have the Learning Tower available to her to climb up on). She piled it in the living room then proceeded to head to my room and empty my closet out. She literally climbs the walls. If the ceiling fan were more accessible, she would spin around on it. I have never seen anything like it. She has always been this way too. Lucky me.
When Tiny is like this, it is difficult for me to be the calm, patient, mindful mother that I strive to be. 30 minutes in to an illness and I admittedly would like to run away and come back when Tiny is well again. Since I was also really sick, I was at my wits end within about 5 minutes.
So my experiment failed from the standpoint that I have no clue if I would have been a better mother if I were not committed to blogging and the really limited social networking that I manage to do. Even if I had wanted to, I would not have been able to get online while Tiny was sick. I needed to sleep when she actually slept and when Tiny was awake, I could not be distracted even for a second. My patience was sapped, my enthusiasm for mothering stretched thin, and my desire to even try to be peaceful walked out the door after day one. I was in survival-keep Tiny from hurting or killing herself or me-mode. Although I did not resort to yelling or hitting, I did resort to bribery, rewards, and a few half ass threats. (Head hung in shame).
I guess you could say that I was very, very present (physically and mentally) as a mother during my online hiatus but again, I HAD to be due to Tiny turned Tasmanian devil. I will admit that I found it a little difficult to not check Facebook or Pinterest while I was breastfeeding Tiny but mostly it was because Mama Jorje had just given birth to her son who has Down's Syndrome and I was really wanting an update on his health as well as Jorje's breastfeeding efforts. Otherwise, I was ok not checking in on Facebook. Staying off of Pinterest sucked ass though. I will admit that I snuck on there once, ok twice. And darn if it didn't feel good! And ok – you caught me – I also snuck on Facebook on the 29th because I really needed to find out how Jorje's son was doing. But I only did it while I was breastfeeding Tiny to sleep and then I only went to her profile and nowhere else. Except to post links to the benefit to help Jorge and her family stay in a hotel near the hospital.
So I was not able to figure out how blogging and social networking has really impacted me as a mother. This will continue to be a work in progress. What I do know is that I missed the interaction with my online communities. But I did get to try another experiment that was met with a rousing success! Tiny and I used cloth tissues all week and loved it! Not only did we not have any waste but we did not get the typical dry, red nose that you get with paper tissues. Yay hoo! I had purchased our cloth tissues from TurtlesRUs, a great vendor on Etsy. I am glad I had these on hand and even though we have used them before, I still reached for disposable tissues.
So to recap:
- Going offline – successfully did so with no resolution as to whether or not it impacts my mothering due to the unfortunate timing of this viral invader.
- Using cloth tissues, exclusively – SUCCESS.
- And purging our stuff – read more about that tomorrow!
And that is all I have to say about that!
Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.com