Sunday, 30 October 2011

Screen Time Doesn't Count

Our days are so very full with my husband gone.   As you know, I've purposed to include some margin in each and every day which helps me cope with my 2 week shifts as a temporary single parent.   Yesterday was a great example of the benefits of margin....

After a late night on Friday (we hosted guests for supper), we all slept in (needed margin).  This meant a slightly stressful rush to get out the door Saturday for swimming lessons.  "Getting out the door" at our house means breakfast cooked and eaten, chickens let out, fed and watered, dog out, fed and watered, cats fed and watered, swim bags packed, lunch made and packed...  you get the idea.  We had exactly ONE hour to mobilize and accomplish that together.  It was tight, but we did it.  I took the time to prepare myself a coffee for the road (NECESSARY MARGIN!).

Megan's lifeguarding class is 2.5 hours, so we dropped her off first and I took Paige and Reece to buy a birthday gift for a friend whose birthday party is on Sunday.  I resisted the urge to run an additional errand as it would have swallowed up the margin that I desperately need.   We made it back to the pool for their lessons with time to spare (margin preserved).  I drank my coffee while watching the kids swim and had fun texting my husband who is working out of town.  It was a nice "visit" while he was on a coffee break (margin).

The kids each ate their packed lunch as they finished lessons and I purposely chose to drive everyone home after swimming in order to give us all a quiet hour before the rest of our busy afternoon unfolded (again, intentional margin carved out).  The kids ate a platter of fresh fruit and each took books to rest on their beds for quiet time.  I quickly tended to a few pressing chores and then sat to savour a hot cup of tea in peace (more margin).

Rejuvenated, we headed back into the city for an afternoon of kid fun!  Paige and Reece attended a Halloween craft/story program at the library while I returned our week's books and chose another bag full for the coming week.  I sat for the remaining 30 minutes in the library and read (more margin).

We then headed to a Halloween party hosted by the children's piano teacher.  They all got to play a spooky piece, decorate cookies, and play games.  I had volunteered to help the teacher out as I live too far away to go home and come back to pick the kids up (while not exactly restful, it was fun!).

On the way home, I drove Megan to her friend's house for a sleepover then brought Paige and Reece home for supper and bed.  The oldest 2 boys (men, really) were out at their respective activities and quiet descended upon the house as the dark of night took over.  I lit the fire, curled up with a book and the cat and EXHALED.  I read for 3 hours and revelled in the peaceful still of night....a truly restorative and restful evening after a busy day.

In my recent quest for margin in my days, I've learned that time online is NOT down time for me.  That activity doesn't relax me in the way that reading, sewing, or crafting does.  Something about sitting at the computer changes how the brain works - although it's reading, there's a certain stimulation involved that doesn't provide the same level of relaxation as sitting in front of the fire with a good book, a cozy blanket and a purring cat.

My quest for margin has surprised me in ways I could not have imagined.  I used to frequently sit at the computer for short bursts throughout the day to "relax" in between my chores and activities.  In the evenings, once the kids were in bed and my chores were done, I'd sit for longer periods in front of the screen.  I don't "do" social media (no criticism of those who do, it's just not for me).   To me, blog surfing is enjoyable, entertaining and educational as I learn so much from others, but relaxing????  No.  Not so much.

I've cut my screen time in half and I'm reading more.  I'm more relaxed and feeling way less stress.  I have "found" more time for crafting and sewing and other activities that I previously "had no time for".   I notice things that previously went by unnoticed....  My attention span is longer and I am not restlessly flitting from one activity to another.   I'm a better, more attentive parent.    All this benefit for cutting screen time in favour of carving out margin.

Best of all?  The richest reward of seeking margin is peace and quiet on the inside...

....something we all could use a little more of :)



  1. Hmmm... good to read. That sounded like a crazy-crazy day to me, but I can see how it had some margin in it. I need to work on that. Ha! right now, I mandatory stop and sit and not look at the computer is nursing. Peanut won't nurse if I'm at the computer, he's too interested. But I can read a book.

    I enjoy reading about your journey and how you are doing it. Thank you!

  2. Good post, I think I need to find regular margin time too! I have never considered that surfing the net isn't relaxing, I will try to take note of how it makes me feel, and decide if I need to cut back on computer time too :)

  3. You are so right. Sometimes I feel more drained after sitting in front of the computer even though I call myself sitting down and resting a bit. I can feel more strain on the eyes and the brain! I will have to think of it like you when I am tempted to sit in front of the computer.

  4. I think that most of the time computer time isn't creative so we don't get that relaxation and 'feel good" factor that comes from a creative pursuit.

  5. Rose, I think that must be it!!! :) I've been wondering that for days....

  6. Lots of food for thought (and thanks for the excalibur tip). I had to laugh, I first read your post as I was rushing around getting the family ready for school this morning - and yes, screen time contributed to my feeling of chaos! Since I discovered this 'other' world I have definately done less relaxation time and almost no reading. Thanks, Alison

  7. This post really spoke to me, I already know that I'm spending too much time here each day, but I'm having trouble finding the discipline to limit my time. Our pc is in our lounge room and I know that when I'm in the same room and the computer is on that I find it really upsetting. On the inside it makes me feel all spikey and edgy, when I'm in the room and it's not on I immediately feel smooth and fluid on the inside. Probably didn't explain that very well.

    Thanks for helping me to see just how much I need to make some changes.

    cheers Kate

  8. Alison - yes, it's easy to get lost in time on the computer and then have to rush to get out the door. Been there done that too many times to count. Now that I am reading more again, my brain is much more active and I am more inspired to do a lot of things I had lost interest in...

    Kate, our computer is in our kitchen so that we can monitor the children online. This is good, but a terrible temptation for me. When it is on, I tend to want to sit and veg. out for a few minutes in between tasks... a good solution has been to actually shut it OFF (not sleep mode). I think twice about turning it on and waiting for everything to load - so I don't bother most of the time. I do give myself access a few times per day but not as often as before. I feel much better using my time differently that is for sure! It's so worth making the effort to change the habit (for me anyways). :)

  9. This is definitely where I am at right now. I am an information hound, so researching info is what I do on the net. But...then I get information overload. I, too, have been spending less time online and more time reading and homekeeping. As a result, I am more relaxed and feel like I have accomplished something. Love the blogs and forums but too much reading = too little doing.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.