Wow. Long time, no see! Life is very busy at the moment but I actually wrote this post about a month ago after our week away in mid June. Then I saw a friend for lunch yesterday and she was telling me about her two week holiday to a Greek island. She had a digital detox and turned off her phone for TWO WHOLE WEEKS. And read six books! And she said it was amazing! So it reminded me of this post sat in my drafts… so here we are…
Back in June we had a week up north, staying at my parents, visiting York and Whitby and a few nights away in Northumbria. Before we went away I decided I was going to take a bit of a “digital detox“. I deleted my social media apps from my iPhone and I had a week off social media. At first I was worried about how I’d actually cope but we were going away to a place with no 4G for a few days, so it seemed like a good idea.
My husband mocks me for being glued to my phone. It’s a bad habit. I feed the baby, I go on my phone. My husband puts the footy on, I go on my phone…. I stand in the queue to pay at Tesco, I go on my phone… I sit and half watch Eastenders, I go on my phone. I’ve noticed before that I seem now unable to truly focus when I’m watching TV. Sound familiar? Because I know it’s not just me. It’s the world we now live in. We stayed at my parents during the week, and they’re as guilty as anyone for sitting scrolling on their tablets whilst the TV is on. When you watch a TV show these days, it flags up with a hashtag for people to comment on Twitter throughout the programme. Our minds are constantly being stretched. We can’t focus on one thing. We’re consuming multiple media at the same time. And sometimes, we just need a break.
In addition to feeling like my husband might have a point about a slight addiction to my phone, (though obviously, I never admit that he might be right), I really am getting fed up of watching a TV show and then realising I don’t really know what’s happened. So I pledged to have a break from social media. I thought it’d be a good test to see how quickly I’d cave and re download the apps…
What I learned from my digital detox
There’s a lot to see, if you look up.
I met my old school friend, Vicky, when we visited York and she gave us a bit of a walking tour, more for Matt and Miss Belle’s benefit than for mine (given I lived there for 18 years). But she said something which struck a chord with me. She pointed out the figures of cats on the walls above the shops down some of the medieval lanes, which actually I’d never noticed before. Apparently it was to do with a belief that they’d scare away rats carrying the plague. But she said “you notice a lot, if you look up.” That you do. That you do.
The next day we headed to Northumbria to the middle of nowhere to stay in a tree house yurt. It was our first experience of glamping (and it was amazing! More on that another time). It couldn’t have been more remote. And normally, in a three-hour car journey where Matt does the driving, I’d be on my phone. Scrolling Instagram. Mindlessly liking memes on Facebook, and if I was really bored, scrolling through Twitter.
But in the absence of any social media apps, do you know what I did? I looked up. Shock horror, I looked out of the window! I enjoyed the view. We commented on how vast the countryside was. I spoke to Miss Belle about the stoney walls. We played “I spy”. (Yes, I used to talk to my child before, but this time, I was really focusing on doing only that.) I’m led to believe that this is a more “mindful” way of living. I’ve never actually read anything official about mindfulness but I’ve heard about it. About using your senses to hone in on the present. What do you see, hear, smell, even taste, at any given time? And so that’s what I did. That’s what I’m doing in a way right now as I sit and hear the birds tweet in the garden whilst writing this. With no TV or wifi in our treehouse yurt, we simply read and listened to the birds and sheep. And do you know what, it was really refreshing. I felt a better person. I definitely felt a better Mum.
So, a week off social media taught me a lot.
I have since considered deleting my whole Instagram page. But, given I blog, that’s not a smart move.
I’ve considered stopping this blog all together.
Since I last posted quite a personal post about finding life hard with two, I have thought about stopping writing. Or to be exact, to stopping writing about my family life. I don’t want to be judged just because I’d had a bad couple of weeks and needed a good moan. I love food and travel and there are plenty of days out in Norfolk for me to write and share about, without telling the whole world about tantrums and potty training, which my kids might not thank me for in the future. I’m not totally decided. I’ve had some feedback from friends who have encouraged me to keep things as they are, and to write just when I want. Which, let’s be frank, is what’s happening now (hello, four weeks since my last post…!)
The fact is, there has to be an online “presence” if you blog. But from now on, it’ll be on my terms. If I want to watch two episodes of Suits back to back and I know I’ll be distracted by my WhatsApp messages, I’ll leave my phone in the kitchen, like I did last night. And if it means deleting my apps for weekends, breaks, or holidays, then I will do just that. And I know that life will go on. Followers will still be there if they want to be. And if they don’t, that’s fine too.
Here’s to being in the present.
(PS – and yes I know this isn’t being in the present, it’s fast forwarding in my mind… but I’m so looking forward to turning everything off when we go to Spain next month. If you have any good book recommendations, leave them in the comments!)