The Demon Time-Suck (AKA Facebook)

I recently had to re-sign in to my Spotify account, something I rarely do because I am one of those people who never logs out of anything.  Could be because I’m lazy, could be because I can never remember which password goes where exactly.  Probably a good mix of both, but the fact remains that I had to actually log back in to Spotify today, like some sort of person from the stone age who did not have Google immediately remember my information and do it for me.  Ugh, how did people live back then?

When I logged back in, Spotify automatically connected me to Facebook.  I guess this is something it’s always done, but I never noticed or cared because it’s only been two months since I deactivated my Facebook account.  Imagine my surprise when I receive an email welcoming me back to Facebook.  Yes, they do that when you leave and then come back. They welcome you back.  Probably like a drug dealer welcomes you back to the den.  “Don’t you want to see what your friends and family think about politics and religion?  Mmmm… feel that red hot heat flowing through your veins?  That’s the good stuff!”

Blerg.  No thank you.  I am done.  I spent five minutes dancing with the demon time-suck when I went back to deactivate, and that was enough.  I no longer care where you went to dinner, or what you think about the latest sporting event, or how many babies you have.  Sorry, if I like you enough, I’ll already know these things.  I have spent the past seven weeks actually reaching out to people through messenger (yes, you can still have messenger with Facebook), and text.  I ask them about their days, their kids, their lives. We send pictures and joke, and we don’t have to have the whole world see what we are discussing.  We don’t do it for show, or to elicit responses from that girl I knew in high school who was kind of mean to me the one time I talked to her, but sort of seems like she’s okay now.

It’s amazing.  Do it.  Cut that demon off and tell it to go back to the spiraling vortex of internet time-suckage where it belongs. Enough wasting your time scrolling and scrolling and scrolling.  Get back to the people you care about.  Talk to them directly.  Don’t settle for the shiny Facebook persona that so many people (including myself when I was posting multiple times a day) shine for everyone to see.  No one is that person all of the time.

Get off of Facebook and do something.  Go outside.  Learn to crochet, or paint, or bake. Actually look your children in the face when they talk to you.  You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in those hours you’re currently wasting.

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A First Step

I’m no stranger to trying to declutter.  Some weeks I spend every spare moment of my day working to throw things away that we don’t need.  It’s a great joy of mine, but it’s also a huge distraction.  I can’t seem to ever keep on top of it.  The more I throw away, the more other people bring into my house.  “I noticed you didn’t have 12 of this thing that I have that I love, so here you go!”

*Me in my head: Rawrerghghhghh!!

*Me out loud: Thaaaaaaaanks!  Awesome!  I don’t really need these for anything, but, um, thanks!

I’d like to start with toys, but that is the battle that will continue until the kids are…. I mean, what… ten at least??  I don’t know when kids are done with toys.  So I figure I can start with clothes.  I’ve already begun my great decluttering project with my own clothes. Next, the kids, then my husband, who has been known to still wear shirts from high school (and one he got when he was three.  Yes, it was adult sized then, but he’s worn it since middle school at least).  I figure less clothes in the house = less clothes to wash = less folding = less time spent putting away said clothing = happier, less preoccupied mommy.  (I’m not very good at math, so this could be totally wrong.)

I’ll let you all know how it goes.  So far I have one, huge black trash bag full of just my own clothes.  A great start!

Who’s Life Is This?

A few days ago I was standing in my kitchen.  S was propped up on my hip (as is his usual position, even though he’s 13 months old and weighs 22.5lbs), and E was screaming at me to fetch her some milk (as is her usual go-to thing to scream at me about), and suddenly I had this odd sensation that I was in someone else’s life.  It was almost like someone had transported my 20 year old conscious into my now 33 year old body, and I had no clue what was happening.  I felt like I was a stranger, that I had no idea who these kids were.  I didn’t recognize the kitchen, or the way my body felt.  I was thrown into a panic.

It was quick, maybe half a second, but I felt all of those thoughts and sensations.  Then I was back to normal.  It’s been an incredibly stressful week.  My hormones are flaring because my period is on the way, my son is teething and has become some sort of horrible beast monster, and my daughter is needy beyond reason because she sees how much attention I’m having to give my son.  I am stretched thin.  I’m tired, and angry, and sad.  I guess I’m also hallucinating, or experiencing some kind of out of body experience? Is this what four straight years of stress can do to a person?  Yikes.  I need a break.

Can You “Do It All?”

I don’t want to know if it’s possible to “have it all.”  That honestly sounds pretty silly to me.  First of all, who wants that much shit?  Second of all, there is a never ending line of things being made, invented, and dreamed up every second of every day.  So, what does “having it all” really mean?  No, my question is something different entirely.  Can you actually do it all?

Can you actually have time to take care of kids, spend time with your husband, clean the house (dishes, toys, vacuum), do the laundry, go to the grocery store, make all of the meals, shower, bathe the kids, change diapers, take the kid to preschool, pick the kid up from preschool, play with the kids, do something you love (crafting, painting, reading), sleep, and still be a happy person?  If so, how?

I feel like a good first step for me is to sit back and really consider being a minimalist. Now, I already consider myself to be a semi-minimalist.  I don’t buy anything extra, but I have relatives who believe that if they don’t buy me and the kids things, all the time, that it means they don’t love us.  I’m not sure where this type of thinking comes into play.  I like giving gifts so very much, but even I don’t think you need ten gifts for every special occasion, and two on Tuesdays.

My mother in law is the worst.  It’s actually an addiction for her.  She’s completely addicted to shopping.  She will spend $400 on clothes for the kids a month, and the same amount on toys.  I’ve begged her to stop.  My husband has begged her.  My father in law has given her an endless amount of crap for it, but yet she persists.  She will visit, randomly, on a Friday and bring my daughter three new toys and my son one.  Even though our house is overflowing with things they don’t play with.  You cannot walk two inches without stepping on a toy.  Yet my kids are bored, or over stimulated, or something.  They hate it as much as I do, but I keep putting things out.  Why?  So I don’t offend her.  She shows her love through giving…. but what the kids really need her to give it time.

The biggest problem I’ve had since moving into the neighborhood with my in-laws is that their relationship with my kids is not the same relationship I had with my grandparents.  I was always with my grandparents (my grandmother mostly), or they were always with me.  They wanted to spend time with us, and even though my grandmother is a world class shopper, she almost never bought us toys.  She’d buy us clothes (ugh, boooring), and then send us outside to climb trees or play basketball, then we’d come in for dinner.  She was always there for us, and we’d spend hours everyday sitting on the porch, talking and swinging in the big porch swing.  These are my fondest memories.  I can name one thing she bought for me when I was younger, and that’s because it’s sitting in my bedroom right now, 25 years later.  It’s a wooden trunk, and it now holds books for my kids.  That’s it.

This is the kind of relationship I want my kids to have with their grandparents.  I want them to remember wagon rides around the neighborhood, and playing softball in the back yard.  I want them to remember dinners, and snuggles, and laughing.  I don’t want them to think of their grandparents as the gift givers.   Although my daughter now says “I’m going to ask grandma to get that for me” every time she sees a commercial for a new toy.  And you know what… if grandma is around when she sees that commercial, she will have that toy within the next two days.

So, what do I do?  How do I unburden myself from this weight?  How do I take the biggest problem, the biggest collection of junk strewn about my house, and make it disappear?  How do I get this one thing off of my plate so that I can take clean up time and put it towards family time?  What can I do besides offend someone who thinks this is how you show love?  Is there a fix for this that won’t hurt her feelings?  Or hurt our relationship?  Something has to give, and it has to be soon.