Doing an online job and a very public social media job like mine means that my phone is never very far from me. It also means it’s very hard to shut off and not think about work. It wasn’t until one of my children ran into the bathroom while I was going to the bath (yup, that’s life of a parent) and handed me my phone in case I needed it that it dawned on me, “this is not right, where is my balance”.
I have wrote a lot about how to find balance with working full-time from home and balancing the kids over the years. And I think I do a pretty good job at being equally focused on both, sometimes at the same time and most of the time separately. I set work hours and I set family time.
But it really sank in that I don’t want my kids to associate my phone with being so important they have to chase me to the toilet to give it to me. Without exaggerating, I do work on my phone a lot because I don’t have time to sit in my office during the day, away from them. But also I am doing other things on my phone that isn’t work.
So while I feel like I am being good at setting work hours and separate family time, my phone is also how I multi-task a million errands at once. I might be scheduling their sports activities through our gym app, or checking the school newsletter to see what they need for school trip that day. I might be ordering the groceries while shopping on amazon for a new filter for the fridge. My phone controls the lights and heating in our house too. I might be chatting to my mom on facetime while typing an email to a client. You get the picture, my phone is handy and helpful.
I sat down and thought about all the things this amazing technology can do for me but how it also hinders me! Is it making it too easier for me to keep on working, and constantly doing two things at the same time? How is it affecting me? It’s a great technology for multi-tasking, sure but am I multi-tasking too much?
Can a person multi-task too much??
Yes, of course they can. I am one of those people that packs her days as full as possible and tries to stretch hands into every basket I possibly can at one time. I like to think I use every minute of the daily allotted 24 hours, usefully and productively, right down to my sleep. But I think even for me I can push multi-tasking to it’s limits and therefore push myself to my limits.
So while my two weeks without my phone was slightly forced in America, it actually got me reflecting on a lot as a parent, as a wife, as a friend and even as a person. Am I living my best life through a screen?
I know I multi-task too much!
Because I multi-task so much it has a cause and affect result. Of course, first on my list is my kids. I sat them down and asked them some general questions about life in our house. With a few simple questions about mommy working, technology and phones, and what they think is important as a family, we had a conclusion, I need to do less and be present more. Sounds deep but you will be surprised what my 6 and 7 year old understood and came out with in their answers.
Ultimately while I want to give my kids things I didn’t have and the opportunities to do sports, activities, and travel that I couldn’t do as a child, I don’t want our busy schedules to take away good, quality, home life together. I’m grateful that we afford for them to do gymnastics, golf, and swimming lessons and sports club, I really am but what about time spend together? Am I pushing my go-go attitude onto my kids and not teaching them to just be in the moment and enjoy life?
It’s also a knock on effect, if I am constantly busy and running the kids around, I have to fit in work and house errands on the go. I tend to stay up way too late trying to work through my emails and work load so I can give Baby O attention during the day. While he isn’t old enough to care if I have my phone in my hand working along side him playing, I don’t want him to associate it with me as my older kids have.
Yes, there will be times when I simply need to do something for work or an errand on my phone. In the big picture, I starting working from home for a few reasons and I need to write them down and read them every morning before I start my day. Get back to the basics and why I am doing what I am doing.
Knowing my personality and the job of an influencer, they are not actually compatible. I have to try twice as hard to shut off, pull myself away from my work, and step away from the online world. I have an ocd, type A, perfectionist personally with the general anxiety, and worry to succeed. Adding in that an influencer literally could work 24/7 and always have something to do, post, like, commenting, share, or research means it’s hard to do set “work hours”.
Lately after six years of long days, and working weekends, I find I am just exhausted from the constant doing. I am exhausted as the chase. I want to be informative, helpful, useful, entertaining, and fun. I want to be the blog and channels my followers pop by because they are getting something from reading and following. I feel like I have lost sight of the online world and myself and somewhere we got on a hamster wheel together both trying to run the opposite directions at the same time.
Will I regret my job choice in years to come?
When I look back at raising my three children. Will I regret becoming a blogger and social media influencer? Will I regret all those hours I worked on a Saturday or Sunday for deadlines because Daddy was home to play with them instead of just me. Will I think it’s worth it and feel like I succeeded?
Obviously I have to pay the bills and work and I am forever grateful for being able to work from home so I can do school runs and pickups and school activities. Having had a mother with two or three jobs and never being able to be at any school function I know how precious it is that I can be there. But working and caring for our family at the same time. am I neglecting them both by not giving each my undivided attention, separately. I sometimes feel like I am not being the best worker and the best parent because I am trying to be both at the same time. Anyone else feel like that?
I am not saying I ignore my children completely and sit endlessly on my laptop, phone or computer. I spend time with them, of course I do. I soak every moment I can up with them. But with a busy schedule and anxiety over finding the right balance, I also have in the back of my mind, what about me. Selfishly, I also worry that I will look back in years to come and think, “why didn’t I do this or that”. Also, like my kids, I am only young once and for almost six years solid I have worked days, nights, and weekends. I have poured myself into this blog, my youtube channel, eat and breathed instagram (haven’t we all) and my other forms of work outlets to build my brand and make a career out of it. I am proud to say I do better than I ever did working for someone else but at what cost? To myself?
Has it cost me memories? Have I missed out already? Is it too late to find a new balance of work and life that won’t leave me with regrets down the line?
My readers and followers, I direct this to you. After all without you this space wouldn’t have blossomed into what it is today. Recently, I asked what do you want to see more of moving forward in this space and you all said more personal posts. You wanted deeper thoughts on parenting, thoughtful posts about life, and me opening up more about myself rather than just my children so here I write to you my biggest anxiety about what I do for a living and how it affects me personally and possibly my children.
So in the two weeks I shut off completely, how did I feel SO different?
I felt more relaxed. I felt free. I felt like a 100% parent. I felt like me again. I didn’t miss a thing, not a tantrum, not a giggle. My baby learned to walk. My daughter learned to braid her hair. My eldest worked on his fear of animals. Like most people when they take vacations I was in vacation mode. I was unaware of what time of day or even what day it was. Something I haven’t felt in years. It made me learn to sit and do nothing with my hands. I read more. I ate and drank better. I didn’t have to worry about packing or charging my phone. I didn’t even take my dslr camera out of it’s bag either. I completely shut off from the outside world and enjoyed my own bubble. I vowed at least twice a year I will have a shut off period like this. A turned off, vacation. A period of time where I make it about me. Not for just my family but really for myself too.
Do you know me a little better having read this? I think I know myself a little better now after experiencing two weeks with no plans, no itineraries, no schedules, no work, no outside influences, no pressures what’s so ever except to get up and get dressed and see what the kids were doing.
It’s not all about work, work, work. In a society where it’s easy to fall inline with everyone else online, we are quick to look for the next thing. Look back generation or two ago, where we grew up playing outside, jumping in muddy puddles, eating juicy watermelon and worrying if mom was going to make us eat Brussels Sprouts at dinner at Grandma’s house. Life was so much simpler and slower those days.