About a year ago, I gave up my smart phone. I was having a hard time keeping it out of my hand, so I took a break from it. During that break, I did some soul searching. Did I actually need a smart phone? No. Could I really live without it? Yes! But the thing is, giving up my smart phone didn't really solve my problem. I was still looking at instagram too much, but now it was on our little iPad instead. What to do? Get rid of instagram?! Heavens! I was moments away from taking just such a drastic step when I got a chatbook in the mail. Shoot. Chatbooks are our favorite. I never ever print photos, let alone put them in a photo book, so chatbooks are the best. They take photos from your instagram and automatically send you a little book every month. My kids love them. They are the only non-digital record of our life and I wasn't ready to give that up.
And then something happened. Like the flipping of a switch, my attitude about instagram changed and I am so grateful. Instead of thinking of it as something to fill the time when I had a spare moment, I started to think of it as a place to document our family life. Period. It's always mostly been about that for me, but with a good amount of time wasting added in. Now I can post a photo, but I don't have to see how many likes it gets. I can scroll through my feed to see what my close friends and family are up to, but I don't need to follow everyone in the world (like people I knew a million years ago or people I've never even met!). I can go a day or two without looking at it, and I certainly don't have to check it right before I fall asleep every night. If I can think of it just as a place to post photos for our family record, I think I'll be ok.
But I can feel my old habits creeping back in, ever so slowly. Here's the good news: because of the long break I took from my smart phone, it is easier to recognize when I need to take a step back and put the phone down and walk away.
Some rules I made for myself: Instagram isn't on my home screen. I have to search for it. And the search function and the news tab inside of the app are off limits. The sound doesn't work on my ancient iPhone, so the new instagram stories are pretty much pointless. And that's ok with me!
The new school year always feels like a fresh start. Even though I'm alone for most of the day now (!) and no one can see if I'm wasting time on my phone or not, I know that I can be better. There is a difference in my day when I spend too much time on my phone. It makes me feel frazzled and anxious. This is a good chance to get back to some good habits.
But I have to tell you, texting is SO much easier on a smart phone. And maps! I missed those maps!