Sometimes I wonder what my kids will be like when they (Lord-willing) become adults: Will my humorous, high-energy daughter focus her enthusiasm on something amazing? Will my sweet, creative daughter marry someone who will cherish her gentle spirit?
What will their memories of me be like?
The questions and wonderings can swim around in my head until I have to shut off the “what-if’s” before those thoughts steal my joy of today.
And yet, one question remains: What will I regret?
I already know the answer.
I’ll regret being distracted. I’ll regret the times my oldest was trying to talk to me and I was too busy checking my Facebook news feed to really listen. I’ll regret the days when my youngest wanted me to read to her but I was too busy rushing around tidying up the house because I’d wasted time online.
I don’t know what events will someday stand out in my children’s minds, but I do know that I’ll deeply regret if most of their memories of me involve me looking at a bright screen instead of into their eyes.
Because when I can get into my future brain for a few minutes and think back to my current self, I can clearly see what I should be doing.
And you know what I shouldn’t be doing? I shouldn’t be checking social media when I could be fully involved in the things that are happening right in front of me. I shouldn’t be distracted from real life.
So I evaluated my online time. I wrestled within myself. I spent months praying, thinking, and noticing.
I noticed that my kids are better-behaved when I stay away from my phone. I realized my high-energy daughter displays a quieter spirit when I snuggle up to read to her in an unrushed manner. I was reminded that my soft-spirited daughter shares her heart when the electronics are off and we’re working side-by-side on things like laundry and baking.
I noticed the days I kept all electronics 100% off, we accomplished more tasks, had more fun, and went to bed with that satisfied-exhausted feeling that only occurs after a productive, full day of work, play, and being connected.
I also noticed that I didn’t have too many of those days before I felt the all-too-familiar tug of the Internet luring me back in. E-mails piled up, my Facebook news feeds grew, Pinterest had so many great things to pin…
Finally I had enough. I felt like I was in one of those slow-motion parts of movies, where the world starts spinning around, all of the noise blurs together, and the main character grows dizzier and dizzier until he cover his ears, curls into a ball, and shouts, “QUIET!”
I told my kids I was sorry. That I’d had enough. That I hated to be online again, but I needed some time to myself so I could break free from the Internet. They watched a movie and I got to work.
I deleted every single Facebook friend (although I did add my husband back when he asked), I “Unliked” about 40 pages, I left time-consuming groups, and I wrote a big status that I made public so if people search for me, they’ll be able to read it and know that my unfriending frenzy had nothing to do with them and everything to do with me.
And I didn’t stop at Facebook. I deleted over 25,000 e-mails. I unsubscribed to no less than 50 e-mail lists (2 dozen the first day, and a couple dozen more since). I unfollowed several Pinterest boards.
It took hours. And you know what? I didn’t feel free right away. I felt mad.
There was nothing left to distract me from real life, and I felt serious social-media withdrawals. But I stuck it out.
And now, a few weeks later? I can’t imagine why I ever wasted so much time on Facebook. I love not knowing everything that’s going on with practically everybody I’ve ever met. I can still text, call, or e-mail whoever I need to talk to. People can contact me directly as well. I’m calmer. I feel like I have more time in my day.
I do still get online, but now it’s intentional. Basically, family needs to trump electronic time.
Will I ever regret this decision? I don’t think so. I’ve never heard of anyone who looked back on their life and said, “Oh, I just wish I’d ignored real life more and wasted more time on electronics.”
Quite the opposite. I’ve heard of people saying, with deep, heart-wrenching regret that they wish they’d been there more. For their kids. For their spouse. For their church family. They wish they’d obeyed God. They wish they’d focused on the important things.
That’s what I want – to focus on the important things. To spend time on what really matters. I can add social media back to my life later, but I can never make my kids young again.
I only get one shot at raising them.
I want to be all in.