My new year in 2022 started with the intention of wanting to have more fun.
After a year in burn out the previous year, I believed that the antidote to being a control-freak would be to have more playful hours during the coming months.
As always in life, it came different to how I wanted it to be.
I found my cure to need to control not through having more fun but through ‘being more gentle with myself’.
My idea was to go for a dip in the sea once a month, last January.
I love this feeling after you come out and you have no choice but to be in your body.
This rush of the blood through my veins after experiencing ice-cold water on my skin, made me go back into the Atlantic almost every Sunday instead.
What does this have to do with parenting, you may wonder?
Living through these strange times where nobody seems to have the answers why things are happening the way they are, I came to the conclusion that we need to find them ourselves.
What I also experimented with was to reduce my own screen-time usage.
My daughter will be 13 in a few months and the social pressure of wanting a smart phone is a reality in our home.
We could just say ’NO’ as I believe it to be completely absurd for young teenagers to have unlimited access to social media and the world.
This may sound very extreme, I know, however I have been battling with addictive behaviours since I was very young.
In the past, I would have wanted to be a whole new me during those early January days.
What I know now is that change is a process that does not happen overnight.
Whether it is stopping sugar in my diet, drinking less alcohol or being a parent who has less power struggles with their child - it all comes down to the intention of why?
My patterns were:
- to lose weight so that I receive external approval
- to drink less to stop making a fool of myself in front of others and
- to be a more perfect parent so that I can run a business sharing with others how its done.
None of these brought about the lasting change that made me happy.
The secret to change for me personally lay in how I felt about it myself.
The sugar addiction, I need to overcome every couple of months during the year when I fall off the wagon.
The way I retrain my cravings: is by replacing the sugar with a more full-filling alternative like ‘Deliciously Ella’s sweet potato brownies’.
The way I stopped drinking: was when I could no longer handle the ferocious hangovers while looking after young children.
The way I started reducing power struggles with my child: was to sit down and feel my own rage, I never wanted to feel.
What I have not become aware of yet is how to not constantly judge myself for not being perfect.
This battle I will fight until I make peace with the enemy.
The enemy is my inner self-critic.
Do you have one too?
What I recommend is to set up a New Year's resolution and give yourself permission to change your mind at any time or to re-evaluate after a certain period.
Ask yourself how you feel after implementing that change.
A challenge I set for myself last Summer and documented on my social media was to turn off my screens for a month at 8pm.
(Unless I was working)
What I wanted was not what I got.
That’s my learning here.
I wanted to have more time to read more books.
What happened instead was that I went to bed earlier and got so much more rest.
It felt like I had time again to enjoy my evenings.
You could say that I got what I needed instead.
Sometimes it was just as small as glancing at the clock and seeing that I had loads of time left before my bedtime.
Do you know what I mean?
It’s this moment of the day where you wish you could stop time and do nothing.
I gave myself permission to be lazy.
A feeling none of us seem to have the luxury or time for.
In new-agy language being lazy is probably called: ‘just to be’.
Anyway I loved it so much, I am going to embark on it again for the next 21 days.
I once heard that most people have stopped their New Year's resolution by then anyway.
Ahhh, the human condition is so hard.
What would you be willing to do differently when it comes to your own screen use?
I am of course not suggesting that you should.
My 9-year-old expressed a lot this year that he finds adults are constantly on their phones.
In a way it's what newspapers were in the good old days and women made a complaint to their partners that they didn’t get enough attention.
I have heard words out of children’s mouths that phones were considered more loved than themselves.
What does it look like to our child from their perspective when they want us to be with them and we are scrolling?
I bought an alarm clock a few years ago and transferred my diary, calendar and reminders back to paper.
It was a great help to reduce my escapism, especially when I found myself googling 'how to better connect with my child'?
MY CHILD WAS PLAYING RIGHT THERE NEXT TO ME!!!
(I normally don’t use capital letters often but that was the screaming wake up call I needed).
Your relationship with technology is probably much healthier than mine.
I tend to have a very cynical approach to life which I constantly need to keep in check.
My mind wondered over Christmas though: when in several public places toddlers’ smart devices were removed from them.
They acted out in a good old tantrum kind of way and parents embarrassed in front of others gave the device straight back to their young child.
My future prediction is phone rehab centres for adults🤔.
However, I could be completely wrong and this is part of the new normal that most of us parents had to reach for to survive crisis parenting over the last few years while we ‘had to do it all’.
Is this now time to question the new normal and to look at the insanity the parenting community was forced into?
I don’t have the answers, I am learning all of this through trial and error with you.
This is why I am going on another month of screen-free evenings.
I am volunteering to start rehab 😉.
What I am learning about screen-free time is that we are the ones who are asked to lead by example.
Whenever I feel annoyed about others for not looking up from their phone, I can find the addiction in my own behaviour.
Finding the balance as with everything, is my goal.
Enjoy your start to 2023 and have a lot of rest for yourself while you are being a busy parent.