When asked what it was like having a fourth kid, Jim Gaffigan responded:
“Imagine you’re drowning. Then someone hands you a baby.”
Jordan and I often quote that to each other and laugh together. We need laughter in this phase of life, especially when we are trying to get our Maroon 5 circus out the door to go anywhere ;).
But seriously, life with three little kids is chaotic. Sweet and fun, but overwhelming. Kind of like a 24/7 game of whack-a-mole.
Jordan and I have had a lot of conversations lately – something has to change or be done differently. We have got to be healthier people. We cannot continue to be dragged by the waves of needs without catching a breath. It’s not sustainable.
Going into the Holidays, I decided to log off of all social media for a week, completely on a whim. It just seemed like a good idea. I was exhausted and though I didn’t want to admit it, I knew it was taking up too much of my time. So, Facebook app – delete. Instagram – delete. Twitter – delete. I wanted to be more present with my family while the kids were home for Christmas break.
I knew it would probably free up my time and mind, but honestly I couldn’t really believe how much I enjoyed being off of social media! I felt so good. In a sobering way, it revealed to me just how much time I spend on it. Here are just a few things that I experienced while I was away from it:
- My times of rest actually made me feel rested. Since I wasn’t grabbing and scrolling my phone in the few moments of rest during the day, I actually just sat in silence. Or prayed. Or closed my eyes and breathed slowly. Or picked up a book. Or jotted down thoughts I had in a notebook. I started keeping books I wanted to read on end tables around the house so that if I ended up sitting there to nurse Piper or had a few moments to sit during the day, I would pick up a book and start reading. I found that this made me feel immensely more rested than looking at my phone does.
- My times of productivity were more productive. It used to be that I would start wiping down a counter top when I would get a ping on my phone that someone commented on one of my Instagram posts. So I would pause to look at my phone to see what they wrote. Which would then lead to me scrolling my feed and seeing what everyone else has been posting. Which would then lead down the rabbit hole of InstaStories (hands down, my favorite part of social media! I could spend my whole day there). Next thing you know, it’s time to go pick up Copeland from preschool! Or to nurse Piper! Or get her up from her nap or pick up Riley from the bus stop or _______ fill in the blank. And then I would think, “I never have time to clean! Who has time to clean, when you have kids?!” Well when I deleted social media, I found that I completely finished wiping down the counter tops. And then I grabbed the broom and swept the floors. And then the Swiffer to give them a little extra clean and shine, and what do you know?! Our whole kitchen was clean, on a random weekday. It turns out I did have time after all.
- My nervous system was a lot calmer. I’ve referenced this in previous blog posts before – I am a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). This essentially means that my nervous system is more sensitive than the average person to stimuli such as bright lights and noise. I get overstimulated very easily and often feel an overwhelming need to be in a dark, quiet room. Well I cannot fully control the volume in our home with a kindergartner, a toddler, and an infant. But I can control some of the outside noise I let into my life and a big source of that has been my smart phone. What does an HSP need to help with all of the crying, screaming, laughing, running and banging constantly in the background? Probably NOT a steady input of things to think about, people to keep up with, pictures, and videos to watch with light and sound. And certainly not continuous notification sounds on my phone – just one more thing yelling for my attention.
- I felt more connected to people. This might sound weird because technically by disconnecting from social media, I am less “connected.” But I felt way more present to my kids and my husband and most importantly, God. And since motherhood can be lonely and social media makes it feel less lonely at times, not having it pushed me to reach out to moms around me instead. I got together with a couple of friends that I really enjoy and I’m so glad I did! My time with them was so life giving. I’m a lower capacity person. This is a fact I spent most of my life annoyed by and trying to deny. I tried to operate as a high capacity person. It has just been over the past two years that I’ve tried to instead accept the fact that I have a lower capacity. And since then I have thrived as a person, probably more than I ever have in my life. And as a result, my family has thrived as well. It makes me think about the parable of the talents, in Matthew 25. God gives a different amount of resources to each person to steward for Him. I believe this includes not only finances, but time, energy and capacities as well. I have a lower relational capacity than some. I’ve always been a fewer, closer, deeper friendships kind of person rather than a super social, lots of friendships kind of person. But Social media makes me feel like I’m thrust into the second category. I tend to feel responsible to more relationships than I need to. Disconnecting from it has helped me to be able to pour more into few, which makes the few feel richer and more satisfying to me.
I love social media – I mean, I am one of the biggest fans. So I was surprised to find that I actually really liked being ‘off the grid’! It was refreshing. I cannot deny the fact that disconnecting did something for my soul.
Around the same time I was doing this impromptu fast, a friend (also a mom of three) was talking to me about the Fly Lady system because she was finding it helpful in managing some of the chaos in her home. If you haven’t heard of the Fly Lady (I hadn’t) it’s basically a system for keeping a clean and clutter-free home, by keeping small and simple routines. I started doing her “31 days of baby steps” which are such simple things, but I have found them to be so helpful already! Some of these things include:
- shining your sink on day one, and then just trying to keep it clean at the end of each day. I have found that having a shiny sink just makes me feel so much better, and more motivated to keep the rest of my kitchen clean.
- Making your bed each morning. I’ve never been one to make my bed in the morning, or at all. But now it’s the first thing I do when I wake up. Like the shiny sink, I’ve been surprised by how much better I feel each day having my bed made.
- Getting dressed, to shoes, each morning. This one I thought I would hate because I am totally a stumble downstairs in my robe and slippers and slug through my morning until I’ve had enough coffee, kind of person. But lately I’ve been getting dressed to shoes, right after I make our bed. And what do you know, I actually feel way more on top of things when I get downstairs! I pour my coffee and feel much more ready to face the day than I normally did. I think this, with the combination of being detached from my smartphone, has made a huge difference in how I feel going into the day.
- Running a small load of laundry in the morning each day, rather than having a big laundry day (or two) each week. Just have all of your family members toss the clothes they wore that day in a hamper before going to bed, and the next morning you wash those clothes. I have found this to be a MUCH more manageable system for laundry!
I’m not typically one for New Year’s resolutions, but this year I’m going for it. I’m going to resolve to simplify my life by cutting out the extra noise, and I’m going to start my days intentionally. I’m going to make scripture study a priority. I’m going to leave my phone on the counter throughout the day. I’m leaving all social media apps off of my phone (I will use Facebook here and there – but only from our family laptop, and only for short periods of time). I’m going to shine my sink before I go to bed. I’m going to get up and make our bed in the mornings. I’m going to get dressed for the day, before I head downstairs.
And for the month of January, I’m also going to apply red lipstick. There is something about a bold red lip that seems boss-like. It says, “I’m not afraid,” “I’m in charge” and, in my opinion, it also gives off a kind of “don’t mess with me” vibe ;).
I’m pressing into the truth that even in this crazy stage of life, I don’t have to live my days with a reactionary posture. Although I cannot control what kind of a day we are going to have or how chaotic things may be with the kids, I can control how I start the day and what I am going to give my attention to. I can actually be intentional, if only in the simplest of ways. As intentional as one must be to evenly apply red lipstick. Even on the most ordinary and perhaps most frustrating of days, we have the opportunity to create beauty in the mess and bring order into the chaos. In doing so we reflect our Maker who has done, and is continually doing, that exact thing.