kicking the habit + re-engaging



It never fails; February and March always seem so endlessly mediocre.  The softly falling snow has lost its novelty and though the sun (when it does shine through) if kinder she still acts like more of a tease than a true friend.  We await spring eagerly.

We have fallen into the trap of filling our days with the same mediocrity.  Some days it feels like I do so many activities and chores with the kids only to look at the clock and find we still have 5 hours to go until Mike gets home.  I am not the fire whisperer like Mike so we sit bundled under wool and quilts venturing out to make meals, or check the chickens.  We read and watch movies and do the odd craft.  Next year will be better; we’ll have plenty of seasoned wood and maybe even some snowshoes to break out and into the forest.  But this year seems endless.

I have been sliding down a slippery slope into the interweb’s ether.  I find not having a car or a place to walk to has been tough so I compensate by socializing online.  I go to Pinterest for ideas and recipes and beauty.  I go to Facebook for connection and conversation and advice.  I read other blogs for all those things.  I check my email to keep it all in order.

I have been offered some pretty great things through the blog; book and product reviews, exciting collaborations, sponsors and trades, article submissions, wonderful whole food workshops, and incredible new people and friendships coming into my life.  I am thrilled and enlivened by it all, but at the same time it takes away from my home presence.  The kids have become whiny and clingy over the past couple of weeks, sensing perhaps, that I am not fully engaged.  I hate to admit that they are probably right; those innocent little mirrors showing me my own reflection.

Needless to say, I need to take a step or two back before it consumes me whole.  No, no, I am not going to stop writing or connecting (I promised I would write through the discomfort after all), but I will be trimming the fat and setting some boundaries.  Today was the first day.  I literally unplugged the internet this morning after a quick email check and stayed off until 8pm.

I won’t lie, I missed the old habit of the incessant checking and refreshing that happens throughout the day, but I made it and felt better for it.  I was downright jonesing for it at a few points, but I stayed present.  Truth be told, I felt more effective, the kids clung less and didn’t even ask to watch a movie.  They played with blocks and each other relatively peacefully.  I read Half Broken Horses (Mike’s find at the thrift store) and did a soduko or two.  We read books together.  We sang and Silas danced.  We ate crepes and Silas alone ate 5 eggs for breakfast (the ladies were kind enough to lay another 5 to replace those eaten). It was more peaceful and less mind numbing.  Even Poppy went to sleep at a decent time and  without struggle which hasn’t been happening lately.

The rules so far are that I can do a quick check of messages in the morning for no more than a half hour while Poppy sleeps and Silas snuggles and looks at a book.  Then it gets unplugged when we go downstairs for breakfast and stays off until 8pm.  There will be exceptions, of course.  I will allow myself to search for recipes and tutorials and perhaps a quick check if I am expecting an important email etc.  It will be a bit rough to kick it I think, but the soul needs a good lesson in self discipline this time of year.  The perfect season of Lent, no?  A reminder to reign it in a bit.

Soon enough (but not nearly soon enough) Spring will be calling softly to us and we will answer with eager barefeet and big plans and all of this will be a memory.  Until then, if you see me on Facebook during the day please tell me to get lost or at least make me explain myself.  This also means I will be even less prompt at returning emails and comments so I apologize in advance for that.

I am still here, but I’m just trying to be a more effective Mama.  At the end of the day, the family and home are what matter most.  Without them stretching me and taking me to my limits in both love and frustration, what would I write about?  How would I grow?  It is all about those two fiercely honest faces (not to mention the one sweet beard) up there.

Tell me what boundaries you’ve set for yourself and children.

go gently + be wonderful


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  1. Posted February 27, 2012 at 10:37 pm by Amanda | Permalink

    i need to do this

    • Posted February 27, 2012 at 11:03 pm by erin | Permalink

      I am trying to plan a day to come o Lindsay, but it keeps calling for snowstorms and ice every time I make the arrangements! When I do get in I hope we can arrange it so we can get together!
      We’ll reclaim our days together…somehow 😉

  2. Posted February 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm by Jules | Permalink

    Erin, I have to laugh because I looked back on my own space and on march 2. 2010, I had the same realization. You are right. It most certainly seems to be something about this time of year. Post here.

    I start back to work tomorrow and while I have enjoyed catching up with friends while laying in bed recuperating from my surgery…I realize that it will be nice to get out and return to my normal rhythm. Too much free time and me seem to be a lethal combination for my productivity.

    While I will miss visiting with you during the day, I truly wish you good luck and happy times with your babes while unplugged.

    XOXO, Jules

    • Posted February 27, 2012 at 10:59 pm by erin | Permalink

      We’re rather kindred aren’t we?!
      I’ve begun calling it February’s Darkness. It is a yearly cycle and I just recently starting taking note of it…It is like PMS for the year.
      I am glad you’re looking forward to getting back to work and wish you all the best!
      I will miss the visits too, but we have so much to look forward to 😉

  3. Posted February 27, 2012 at 11:08 pm by KC | Permalink

    Since I use my computer as our music player I can’t really turn it off. However, I try my best to only check e-mail in the morning when i get up after attending to breakfast. Then only again during nap time if both babies are napping at the same time. Then after they go to bed.

    I too am addicted to e-mail. But restricting myself to those times and keeping a notebook for my blog helps me stay off the computer more. I try to write down my ideas there first and plan things out. Write lists of what I want to look up later.
    Viola, my six month old, won’t even allow me to sit at the computer with her. She cries the instant I sit down. Now that’s saying something!

    Well done mama on finding your priorities.

    • Posted February 27, 2012 at 11:11 pm by erin | Permalink

      I love the notepad idea for blog ideas. Good one!
      I know it is crazy how in tune they are isn’t it?
      Thanks for the encouraging words

      • Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:26 am by Laura Jeanne | Permalink

        Mandy – the same thing happened to me. I deleted my Facebook account about two years ago. Before I did so, I gave my email address to all the people I thought were my “friends” on there…guess what. Not a single person ever contacted me. I guess those old acquaintances from highschool really weren’t lifelong friends after all. I’m glad I stopped wasting my time on FB.

        • Posted February 29, 2012 at 8:42 am by erin | Permalink

          So far, I’ve only had one person email me…I decided to walk away from it yesterday.
          Thanks for sharing!

          • Posted February 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm by Mandy | Permalink

            Side note…and a sad one…
            I recently joined a homeschooling group. What a joke. All these homeschooling mama’s were supposed to be there all for the same reasons, but I could not for the life of me connect in person with any of them. They would email, but never call. I finally met a woman I thought I could connect with, FINALLY, and then when I didnt email back for 3 days, yes, only 3, she wrote me a big long dramatic email about how I dropped off the face of the earth and “good luck” to my family. WHAT? REALLY? Im sorry, I was up to my eyeballs in 2 toddlers, who were sick and I had even TOLD her this. So sad. So, stupid me tried to reconcile, and understand maybe she was having a bad day, even though I knew I was being foolish. So, I made the effort she “needed”, but then she of course, didnt respond. WTF? Really? After one last ditch effort, and God only knows why, I wished her well on her trip to the mountains, asked her to send me pics of her cabin and area, since we were interested in a future trip, and her response was “Do I have Facebook?” (I assume because she would post the photos on there) and I kindly responded, no that we had deleted our acct. And guess what, I guess I wasnt cool enough, and have never heard from her since. Its a sick thing, women, drama, this online world, and all of this coming from a homeschooling mom. Im pretty much hopeless, but oh well, atleast I dont have to clean my house before “friends” come over.

          • Posted February 29, 2012 at 3:32 pm by erin | Permalink

            Wow, that is too bad.
            We are working on getting a little group together, but it is a pretty great one full of real mamas.
            Keep a look out for a good connection or start up your own group. I wrote an article on that for ROTH actually.
            You’ll find your way

          • Posted February 29, 2012 at 4:08 pm by Mandy | Permalink

            I think Im better being a loner, so my way is just my way I guess. I find that if I try too hard, its due to the wrong reasons.Because society leads me to believe that I should have this wonderfully filled life with tons of women friends, when really, its just too much work . I find I am happier with less, less friendships to keep up with, less activities with the kids, just less is usually more in our book. Its only when I add too much that I find I am inbalanced, so its accepting that I am better this way that will ultimately balance me, if any of that makes sense. Just accepting that thats who I am, and not trying to be someone Im not.
            Stupid question, but what is ROTH and where do I find that article?
            And fyi, you dont have to justify to anyone your screen time. Its your life. Dont get caught up in the other end of the specturm by feeling like a failure because you are online. Its a viscous battle of self defeat. It is what it is, just keep it balanced. You are doing great!

          • Posted February 29, 2012 at 7:52 pm by erin | Permalink

            Oh! Rhythm of the Home is a great online magazine you would very likely enjoy! Lots of wonderful souls there.
            I wrote an article once before quite a while ago, and one coming out in the spring edition not yet released (tomorrow maybe)…google it and you will find a blog and a magazine…separate sites.
            Thanks for the kind words again. I am just trying to trim the fat and be more efficient with what I do online. It sucks me right in sometimes and I can’t do that.

          • Posted March 1, 2012 at 12:56 am by Mandy | Permalink

            Oh yes, got it, I actually do frequent that site often, just didnt put the acronym together with the blog. Duh on my part. Ha!

        • Posted February 29, 2012 at 1:17 pm by Mandy | Permalink

          Laura, Erin,
          Thanks for sharing your thoughts and commenting. It was hard to delete, as if FB KNOWS you are coming back, they taunt you with that 2 week come-back period, where everything will still be on your site. For me, I must have restarted that process 75 times or more. Each time I thought, man, what a drug! Better than anything I tried in college, just goes to show you that addiction is so much mental. Each time I “left” I felt like I would miss something important and each time I logged on I felt sicker and sicker. Its actually laughable looking back on it now, I mean, really, what was so hard about not moving my hands on a keyboard and logging into a website. What I realized in the end was what a waste of time it was, how those friends were “old” friends for a reason, and that people generally dont give a crap about other people, only themselves. Even for me, I wasnt on it for other people, I was on it ultimately for myself, and the feeling it gave me to get that “high”, to make me feel part of something. Sure, I still suck, and I still have no friends, and I wish my boys had more social outlets, but Id rather be without those fake friendships, in real life, or online, then with them. Like someone else commented above, the SAHM’s used to have a network of lots of others moms, a community of support, family around to help. We have none of that here, and we are a minority, especially in our quest for unschooling.
          I wish you the best in staying strong and honest. Its a hard lonely road, but the alternative is the deadly screen.
          Oh wait! Arent I on it now… ahhhh!
          Congrats on the change. Keep strong.

          • Posted February 29, 2012 at 3:30 pm by erin | Permalink

            I too am trying to figure out what it is I feel I need from it or will be missing.
            I could be ruthless and only keep the friends and family I would have over for dinner or tea, but that is tough for some reason.
            My main goal is to limit the obsessive quality it has. Perhaps a weekly check in.
            I am breaking my own rules today too…it is a bad week what with organizing sponsors and new projects…It will come.

  4. Posted February 27, 2012 at 11:28 pm by Mandy | Permalink

    The big boundary I set for myself last year was quitting Facebook all together. Down right hard, and they keep your acct open for you for up to a couple weeks (in case you addictively change your mind of course), which I did, and it took me an entire 6 months to kick it, because each time you log on, it restarts that whole damn process. But I did it and never looked back. I was using it for all the wrong empty reasons, to disconnect, to fill a void with a response on how cute my kids were. Eventually it became like a drug, no real friends, and well, you know, the whole viscous cycle. And you know what, not 1, not one single person has called or written me. Sad yes, how embarrassing that there was not one real friend, but I believe online socialization causes just that, a lack of real life involvement, on so many levels. I also quit wasting time on people and relationships that didnt matter and lived a real open honest life. Its scary, and lonely, but it feels better at the end of the day not having to upkeep all those fake friendships, or ones that you hope develop into something. Im not always good at it, but I too put boundaries on my online time and started engaging more. All of this flows with our unschooling philosophies, being together more, interacting on a real level more, and being honest about who we are and why we are doing things. Now when my kids “catch” me sneeking a piece of chocolate, I just say the truth, I had a craving and used it to fill a void. They seem to just say oh, and accept it better. And I knew I had a problem when my 3 year old knew what email was and would refer to mommy checking her email.
    So, congrats! If we never hear from you again…ha ha, thats a good thing in some ways, it means you are connecting again. Think of those old farmers from way back when, in the dead of winter, with no electricity, they cooked, they laughed, they told stories, they KNEW eachother. Kids tuckered out because they worked and played hard, they didnt need to be coaxed for a nap, they were lucky if they got one at all. I try to remind myself these things, because from time to time I call this reigning in phase a “lock down”. I cancel playdates and outings and welcome a rare rainy day. Sometimes I get looks and snickers from “friends” and they dont understand why I dont want to rush to a stupid park at 10 am sharp to play with their kids, I just say we are on lock down and try to do my best to explain.
    Let it go, and be deeply, fiercely honest with yourself as to why you are doing the things you do and it will be that much easier. Cheers to you!

  5. Posted February 28, 2012 at 5:38 am by teresa c | Permalink

    being connected on line usual means disconnecting some other thing… I know that sometimes I go to my mobile when breastfeeding and I’m not there. I decided not to use it when I’m breastfeeding in order to reconnect with my baby boy after coming home from work.
    I’ll probably miss the replies to the comments. i hope you keep writing the blog, as I said before it is a source of inspiration for me. But I wish you good luck in your resolution. Be well!

  6. Posted February 28, 2012 at 5:46 am by Heather | Permalink

    I get up super early in the am so I can have some quiet time, and that is when I do all of my internet related stuff, then the computer is off until the kids have rest time, and then I usually get on again :-) I love the blogging world, but sometimes I want to completely unplug from everything. It seems to be a constant struggle! Especially hard if you aren’t able to go anywhere!

  7. Posted February 28, 2012 at 7:48 am by Stephanie K. | Permalink

    As our children are mirrors, I think we bloggers are also mirrors for each other. I certainly notice that when I get into that obsessive mode, my kids are unhappy and I’m crabby. I’m finding myself increasingly disenchanted anyway, and think longingly of how I used to spend my time before all the internet stuff became so important. My mind feels a bit scattered and tired of the instant gratification. and I miss finding letters in my mail box. I wonder what my kids will remember of me, if they so often see me looking at a laptop instead of watching a movie for the 100th time with them.
    This is a move you won’t regret. My sister and I were talking about my blog last night and part of me feels it’s almost full circle, and time to let it go. April will be two years, and I may just close it all down and really re-engage with everything around me. I know I’d regret the many hours spent looking at other people’s lives if I found I only had a month to live. So I too want to really live it, NOW.
    Good for you! You have nothing but encouragement from here!

  8. Posted February 28, 2012 at 8:48 am by Misty Pratt | Permalink

    It’s so hard, especially in winter. I work 3 days/week, and stay home with my little one 2 days. I find when I’m at work, I don’t mind taking time to ready my fav blogs and check facebook (after all, I need a break from cubicle land!!) But the days I’m at home with her, I definitely just shut off. She won’t have it any other way :) She nags incessantly if I stop paying attention for even 2 minutes. I am feeling desperate for spring – for easy walks to the park (as opposed to half an hour temper tantrums while we get the snowsuit on) and playing in the garden. Good luck with staying unplugged, but don’t berate yourself if you slip once in a while :)

  9. Posted February 28, 2012 at 8:58 am by Michelle | Permalink

    I find it so interesting that most bloggers are stay at home moms. You know why? I think it is because in days of old, most moms stayed at home with their children. They talked while hanging out laundry, while they planted their pansies, while the kids played at the park and over coffee. Every day. Every day.

    Today’s stay at home mother is so isolated. Most women work outside the home and it IS lonely some days. Having no one to talk with but kids under 5 is hard. So we reach out to find that connection. Someone who knows. Someone who has been there. It is not surprising we (myself included) do this.

    I know what you mean though about constantly checking. I do it too each time I walk by the computer , conveniently located at a desk in my kitchen. I agree that there should be boundaries. My little one would play on her DS for hours if I let her. She would watch a movie every day if I let her, or play Animal Jam on National Geographic Kids website. Sometimes I do let her and the day is never good. The best days are when we both stay away from screens. So I ask, why do we seem to gravitate back there so often?

  10. Posted February 28, 2012 at 9:28 am by Lauren | Permalink

    needed to read this today. Thanks for sharing and being real with your thoughts and words here.

  11. Posted February 28, 2012 at 9:44 am by Laura Jeanne | Permalink

    I hear you loud and clear, sister. This is actually the *main* reason I stopped blogging. But I still spend too much time on this stupid computer. For the very same reason as you – I don’t have a car so I can’t go to play dates, shopping, or anything – I’m stuck in the house all day during the week and I get mighty lonely for some adult conversation while I’m waiting for my husband to get home from work. Look, I am commenting on your blog right now while I should be helping my boys get dressed. Oy.

  12. Posted February 28, 2012 at 11:26 am by Chandelle | Permalink

    I’ve found it necessary to remove an internet connection from my home entirely. I was actually displaying addictive behaviors when it was constantly available, and gradually I had to confront the fact that it had changed the way I related to everything of importance in my life, mostly in negative ways.

    At first I worried that the quality of my writing would diminish, but that hasn’t been the case. I do blog less, but I put more thought into what I say, because I’m not distracted by hundreds of things while I’m saying it! I still write on a laptop at home, but it’s easier to break away, and to maintain my priorities.

    For my own personal mental health, I also quit Facebook at the beginning of the year: The first few weeks were the hardest, but now I hardly think of it at all. :)

    Good luck finding a balance!

  13. Posted February 28, 2012 at 8:01 pm by Crystal | Permalink

    Great idea. I feel the same way most days, it’s easy to get caught up in it. I find when I do go on vacation from the Internet I feel much better and more connected with my day. And the little ones definately pick up on it, less whining, everyone’s happier…. Very inspiring!

  14. Posted February 29, 2012 at 9:59 am by Stephinie | Permalink

    I loved this. And needed it. The same thing is happening here right now…… turning this off.

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