My smartphone…friend or foe?

I feel connected to my smartphone at the hip. Sometimes this feels like a good thing and sometimes not. I take a look at how I use my smartphone and the benefits it brings as well as the drawbacks.

Hi All,
Earlier today I was reading about a Netflix producer who had decided to give up the internet. He had deleted all the apps on his smartphone, including his browser. I don’t know about you, but the idea of it made my heart rate go up just a spot. I could feel a bit of anxiety kick in. It was quite freaky to realise how I was reacting to the mere thought of no internet. This got me thinking. Is my smartphone my friend or my foe?

I bought my first cell phone back in 1999 I think. It was a Sony Ericsson. It was blue and black and had a stubbish aerial. I thought I was the bees knees, the fly’s thighs and the bugs ankles when it rang in public…lol. Of course, all it could do was make and receive calls and text messages. It didn’t even have the game “snake” on it. It was mine though and I loved it. My internet fixation was fed through a dial-up connection and a desktop computer. The brand of the computer escapes me but I do remember that it was a white one. I lived alone at the time which made it easy for me to spend hours on it some nights. Everything was so slow back then that I did not always have the patience to wait for the computer to start up or for pages to open up.  This resulted in me not accessing the net every night. The internet turned out to be the perfect place to feed my insatiable curiosity about “stuff” and “things” :-). It opened up a whole new world for me. At this point, though, the internet and my phone had their place in my life. I still spent a lot of my time reading books and magazines. I loved going to the mall and shopping with my friend or even just window shopping sometimes. I enjoyed flea markets and visiting friends.

Fast forward to 2017. I now have an iPhone…a mini computer in the palm of my hand. I have instant access to personal and work documents and mails as well as everything the internet has to offer, and I can still connect with my loved ones via calls or messaging. Sharing experiences in real time with friends and family around the world is not only possible but it as easy as pie.  Life has definitely changed dramatically and a lot of things have become easier to accomplish which is fantastic! The problem is that all these apps on my phone can serve as a distraction from the more meaningful experiences in life like connecting with my son, spending quality time with my boyfriend (he is probably worse than me when it comes to the amount of time spent glued to that phone’s screen though). I also don’t read as much as I used to or even get to the mall that often. As for visiting friends…well, I can’t blame my phone solely for not visiting them anymore. They have lives too, and we all have different priorities now, although our smartphones do help us remain connected on some level.

I used to tell myself that my games helped me switch off from the world. Candy crush only allows me 5 lives at a time, thereby imposing a limit on the amount of time I can spend playing (Thank goodness!) and I have to wait for my opponents play their turns on scrabble so my interaction is limited but is it all really necessary? I can live without Candy crush, but I do enjoy my scrabble games and the people I play against. It is so easy to get lost on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I don’t actually spend that much time scrolling through feeds believe it or not. What does happen is that I”ll see a link to a blog or an article that interests me and then off I go. That article will have links to other articles and websites and I will just keep on clicking until, next thing I know, an hour has passed and my watch is telling me that I need to stand :-). The truth of the matter is that I was probably procrasting about something that actually needed to be done like washing the dishes or working on an assignment or worse, studying for exams, and instead of postponing it for a “few more minutes” I have now lost an entire hour to a distraction that probably wasn’t adding any value to my life.

Time is precious. Before I became a mom, I was not as acutely aware of this as I am now. “Me time” especially is more precious than gold when you are a mom. When you have it, you also become more aware of the concepts of “priorities” and “opportunity costs”. I find myself using my smartphone as an excuse or tool to numb myself to these facts of life and slip into a cocoon surrounded by the internet and the illusion that I am “educating myself” in some way or another when I should really be doing something productive towards my goals especially. So yes, in this instance the smartphone is definitely my foe. It does have it’s place, however. The camera on my phone is a lifesaver! I use it to take pics of everything, including my shopping lists, recipes I see, interesting information I come across in a store or on the street. Google/Safari helps me find quick answers to everyday stuff that I might suddenly need to know. I do learn random stuff through Facebook and the like and I enjoy keeping up to date with friends and family through them as well as keeping abreast of local and world events. I have discovered however that deleting the apps and accessing them on the net only results in less frequent visits because access is no longer at my fingertips and, because I don’t see the icons all the time, they are no longer top of mind . It also means I have more space on my phone and use less data. (yay!).

I guess at the end of the day, the technological marvel that is the smartphone, is definitely a good thing, a friend, but it can easily be a foe if you let it. You just have to remember who holds the power (and yes it’s you and not the phone…).

Do you have any tips or tricks that you use to keep your smartphone from taking over your life?  Please share them in the comments below.

 

Thanks for taking the time out to read my blog.  Don’t forget to follow me if you would like to receive updates via email.  Do like and share as well.

Chat soon 🙂

Single parenthood…the pros and cons 

Hey there

I met a friend in the supermarket the other day and she, like me, came into motherhood a little later in life. The difference is she did with the support of a partner and I did not. Anyway, we were sharing stories of the toll that toddlerhood takes on a mother and, at the end of it all, she said to me: “I take my hat off to you single parents. I don’t know how you do it!”.  I laughed.

The truth is we single parents do it the way the rest of you do it. We get up every day, pray, and then put our best foot forward in parenting, managing our careers and relationships with people.  The difference is that we don’t have that built in helping hand and it is a big difference. Pro: The great thing about us humans though is that we are resilient and we develop our own coping mechanisms that get us through.

Con: Not having the built in support of a partner is one thing. Not having the support of extended family as well makes the situation just that much more challenging. You have no babysitters if you need to work late. You can’t have a life because there is no-one to babysit. You are “always on” because there is no one to give you a break for an afternoon. You only get a break when your child goes to sleep. Once they are a sleep you only have a few a hours in which to study/read/do some work/watch your favourite programmes on tv/just take a moment to breathe and to think. You quickly learn to prioritize your time because suddenly there is just never ever enough of it. You constantly have to ask yourself what the opportunity cost of doing “a” over “b” is.  Pro: Friends are angels on earth. I have been fortunate in that I have a friend who has always been available to me whenever I really need help despite having a family of her own to look after. She has been such a blessing. I would have gone insane without her support. Thank you V!

I just want to take a moment to give a shout out to those couples who choose to change cities/immigrate to a new country with no family close by and they have young children.  To add to your challenge is an unfamiliar environment.  I take my hat off to you because I know you know the struggle of which I speak.

Pro: Sometimes I think our children have a slight advantage over those in 2 parent households. They get more attention from us. I had no one else to talk to and to do things with. I only had my son. We did everything together and I am grateful that I have been given that opportunity to focus solely on him during his early years of life. Con: He is lonely though as a mum cannot provide the same type of companionship that a sibling can. Pro: On the upside, he has learnt to quickly make friends wherever he goes so that he has someone to play with.

Con: The tendency to spoil him has been a constant battle. My feelings of guilt over not providing him with a “normal” home and a father figure,  made me over compensate and be very protective of him.  It took me a while to realise that I was creating an ungrateful, materialistic little monster by spoiling him but thankfully I did get there. Undoing the damage though is a lot harder… On the flip side,  he is a little more mature than his peers because his interaction has been with an adult only at home.

Con: Being a control freak…well, this didn’t help my situation either but, at the same time, I had almost no-one to lean on so I thought I had to control everything.  I elaborate on this in my blog,  No man is an island, if you want to more.

Fortunately for my particular situation, a few important things have changed that have made been a single parent easier:

  • The company I work for introduced “agile working” so I don’t have to take a day off every time I have to wait for a plumber, etc or Alex is not feeling well.  I can now work from home on those days which really helps with the feelings of guilt and work doesn’t pile up unnecessarily.
  • My son is almost a tweeny which means that he is a lot more independent and demands less of my energy.  We still maintain a few of our routines from babyhood like reading together at night which ensures that we remain connected.  These little routines also help us cope with the changes that life inevitably brings
  • We have moved into a complex where there are lots of children his age so he now has friends to play with after school and over weekends which also lowers the demand on my energy and frees me up to do the things I need to do.

Lastly, and very importantly, I am now in a relationship.   I have to put effort into two relationships and make sure that both my son and my boyfriend get enough attention. Strangely enough, despite this, I probably feel less drained than I did when I was only focusing on my son.   I feel like there is an extra layer of warmth in our home that makes it feel more like a cocoon and sanctuary for me too. Home has always been my safe place.  Now it is just that much cosier. For this, I am grateful. For my boyfriend’s love and support of both my son and I, I am very grateful. 

Parenthood is not easy even with all the support systems in place so all the parents out there, I say take a bow for getting up every day and doing the best that you can for your children and loving them unconditionally.  You are doing a great job!  To my fellow single parents…salute! You rock!

Thanks for taking the time out to read my blog.  Don’t forget to follow me if you would like to receive updates via email.  Do like and share as well.

Chat soon 🙂

 

 

 

I write because…

…it feels right. When I write, it feels as though the words flow from me. All the days experiences and encounters tumble onto the page.  My jumbled thoughts begin to find order. I can sift through the good ideas and the bad when I see them all written down. I can arrange and rearrange their sequence until they all start making sense.

I write because it brings me joy. I am not an early riser yet I find myself up at 4 and 5 in the morning writing more often than not these days. I feared writing at school. I didn’t think I was any good at it. I believed I lacked imagination. I loved reading but I feared writing. Despite my fear, I secretly harboured a desire to write. It’s taken me more than half my life but today… I write.  I am so glad that I have finally conquered my fear 🙂

I write because it brings me peace. I am an emotional being. Sometimes those emotions can cause me to make rash decisions. I write to sift through the emotion, to find clarity, to find solutions and, sometimes, just to understand me a little better.

I write because I find it easier to express myself in writing rather than verbally.  I have found that I reach my most useful/insightful conclusions when I have had time to think things through.  Writing affords me that opportunity.  I don’t have to have immediate answers to anything. I just have to write.  The answers are in there somewhere and I will find them or they will find me.

Hand writing in diary. Quote by Anais Nin

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
Anaïs Nin

Lastly, I write because it gives me a sense of purpose.  I enjoy sharing my thoughts and life lessons with you.  I love reading and am the person that I am today because of the lessons I have learnt from other’s sharing their experiences with me through their books, blogs, articles and social media posts.  It has been said that the right book/words at the right time can change your life. I write in the hope that my words will reach at least one person in this world and have a positive impact on their lives in some way.

Until next we meet…

%d bloggers like this: