I can’t believe we’re already finishing up Week Two of the Focused Moms Challenge! We’ve reached the halfway mark, and I’m so proud of each and every one of you! This week, our challenge was to “Cut off your cell phone and headphones while in the roadway” (aka, UNPLUG!). Talk about a challenge! I had no idea how hard this would be. No idea whatsoever. But it sure was!
My picture for the week is of a sign that has been on display on Auburn’s campus this month. I have been seeing it on my way to and from work each day. I thought it might give you a laugh, so I decided that I needed to take a picture. As if the Focused Moms Challenge wasn’t enough, I’ve got these signs popping up at every turn reminding me to UNPLUG! As usual, we had three steps to follow in our challenge. Here are my confessions of the successes and the struggles at my house:
Set Up Some Distraction Free Zones. As you probably know, my biggest distractions are my cell phone and my laptop. I decided for this week that I would not use these two distractions when my children were around. For the most part, I was able to do it, but it was hard! REALLY HARD! It took all of the will power I could muster. Sort of like I would imagine someone who was quitting smoking might feel. I was completely quitting something that had become a regular part of my day to day life. I was surprised at how difficult it was and that actually was what gave me the motivation I needed to continue on! That and the horrifying chalk picture my six year old drew of me.
My big success of the week was not having my cell phone with me when I went upstairs to put my children to bed. I used to keep it in my pocket all the time (even in the house) and out of habit I would find myself responding to a text or some other non-emergency cell phone activity while also trying to read my daughter her bedtime stories. What on earth was I thinking? So, I made sure to put my cell phone in its charger each evening BEFORE the bedtime rituals started so that it wouldn’t be with me. I didn’t miss it a bit and had the best uninterrupted bonding time ever with my kiddos.
In the car, I suffered through not talking on the cell phone while driving. And you know what? I had some amazing conversations with all of my kids. I didn’t once fuss at them for interrupting my phone conversation (since I wasn’t having one!). And I heard them talk about things to each other (or their friends) that I would never have heard had I been on my cell phone. For real! I am 100% deaf in my left ear, so if I’m on the phone I can’t hear ANYTHING that is going on around me. It was a real wake up call and wasn’t really as hard as I had thought. I did miss talking to my friends and family (especially those who live out of town that I can’t see in person) that I usually call, but I’m figuring out how to make that work too. Just at a time and place that doesn’t disrupt my attention to my children.
I was able to stay off the laptop in the afternoons and evenings until the kids were in bed, but I walked over to it out of habit at least every thirty minutes on Day One! I eventually got to the point of keeping a list near the computer of what I was going there to do. Then once the kids were in bed, I did all the things on my list (well at least the things that were actually important!). But truly AS SOON AS the kids were in bed I was on the computer. I didn’t stay on it that long, maybe 30 minutes to an hour, but I practically sprinted to the thing once they were all asleep.
Reward Yourself. I did reward myself with some of my most favorite distractions. As I said, the second the kids were in bed, I was logging onto the computer to check out Facebook status updates! The minute they are all on the bus in the morning, I was sitting down at the laptop to do some blogging. Last night I played a few games of solitaire on my iPad, something I had given up doing this week. And, when the kids weren’t around, I felt free to make a few phone calls or check out all of my “notifications” on my cell phone!
But, I decided I also needed to figure out some rewards that were completely unrelated to my distractions. So, I bought a new home organization book, Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living, and a couple of magazines that I would normally not purchase. Now, if I need some down time or my kids are around me but not necessarily needing me to be hovering over their every move, then I can pick up my magazine and read an article or two. Or, I can look through my new book for ideas on getting my house in better order. So far, I have LOVED this book!
Check Your Calendar. The nightly calendar check was very helpful to me. I had gotten out of the habit of doing that and would often lose track of valuable time or forget about something we needed to do. Throw in a distracting laptop or marathon Kindle session, and the whole day might be shot! So, checking the Cozi calender each night for the following day has now become a nightly ritual for me (and I hope you, too).
So, it’s the end of Week Two. What did I learn?
- When I’m unplugged I become painfully aware of how plugged in my children are (don’t worry, we’ll be working on that next week).
- My kids behave better when I’m focused on them and not my distractions. Not to say that they have been perfect, but wow, it has been quite an impressive change!
- I don’t say “in a minute” nearly as often when I’m unplugged.
- My son and I have some great conversations in the morning before school when I’m not sitting at the laptop.
- It’s a lot more fun to play with my kids outside than to stay inside on the computer or watching tv.
- When I’m not always on the phone I don’t have to fuss at my children for interrupting my conversations.
- My kids don’t ask for nearly as many snacks when I’m not on the computer. I don’t know why this is, maybe because my laptop is in the kitchen and they come in there to get my attention and just naturally think about a snack! Who knows, but I like it!
Now, it’s your turn. I’ve opened up about my successes and struggles and now the Focused Moms community wants to hear from you. Here’s how it works:
- Comment below about what worked and what didn’t for you in Week Two. Have a great Distraction Free Zone or Reward? Share it with us!
- If you’re a blogger, link up a blog post below that you wrote about Week Two of the Focused Moms Challenge.
- Have a picture to share? Upload it to the Focused Moms Challenge Facebook wall or Flickr group for us to see.
- Check back over the weekend to see how other Focused Moms did on the challenge and get ideas from their comments, blog posts, and pictures.
- Share the Focused Moms Challenge! It’s not too late for new friends to join. Just direct them to ChildPsychMom.com/FocusedMoms to get started.
This weekend, put the finishing touches on Week Two. Use the ideas you picked up here and from your week at home to get good at our three steps from this week. This was a HARD week! It might take us all a few extra days to finish! Then, I’ll see you back here on Monday for Week Three of the Focused Moms Challenge!