Dishes, Digital, and Withdrawal

IMG_3603The other day, while helping me with the dishes, my 3-year-old announced:

“Hey mom! Look, my finger is taking a shower!”

It’s the little things.

In the midst of all the rush, the “efficiency” of multitasking (which actually means we never really focus on one thing at a time), the bustle, the noise, the beeps and vibrations from our electronic devices … sometimes I love to just … be present for a minute … doing dishes with my boy.

I feel that we have lost some of the earthy-ness of life. We eat food we didn’t grow. We talk (or type) to people we can’t see. We ride everywhere instead of walking. We run inside on a treadmill rather than feeling our bare toes in the grass.

I feel blessed as a parent to be able to reclaim some of these things by default. My little boys give me an excuse to go to the park, to swim in the middle of the day, to dig in the dirt, or to act silly just because. I’m enjoying it while I can. And my husband is too. We know it won’t last forever.

Silly Daddy!

I’ve recently taken a big step toward work-life balance (I hope). I work from home, which can sometimes be tricky. I don’t often go to the office, leave my work there, and then come home again. Instead, work is always present. But I have made a choice: I will not turn on my computer til noon. And after dinner, I’m done for the day.

Now I spend my mornings and evenings building with blocks, coloring, going on picnics, cleaning the house, playing board games, and doing all sorts of other things I didn’t think I had time to do. It’s amazing how hard the pull of my little laptop is, though. It screams at me from the corner of my desk and yanks like a mega-magnet. But so far, I’ve done well. I’ve held strong.

Balance. That’s what I’m looking for. Is that too much to ask?

Unplugging feels good. I am more able to look into my children’s eyes when they talk. I am able to be present. I stop. I breathe. I feel. But at the same time, unplugging also makes me feel anxious and guilty. I admit I want to do it all–all the time. Is that weird? Honestly, I think we are so programmed to multi-task that when we are uni-tasking, it feels awkward.

For instance, last night while watching TV with my husband (and not being on the computer at the same time, like I usually am), I felt like I was going to lose it. My skin physically began to crawl. No joke. Just sitting there watching and doing nothing else made me want to run through the house waving my arms and screaming.

I once read an article about how we, as an American culture, have developed a physiological dependence on our electronic devices. It’s so bad that when we go on vacation somewhere without cell phone service, we might get physically ill as part of the ‘withdrawal.’ Almost like a drug addiction. Really? Wow. As someone who works in addiction recovery, this idea intrigues me.

Anyone else struggling with digital vs. real life balance? What are your thoughts?

My boy. I love him.


3 thoughts on “Dishes, Digital, and Withdrawal

  1. That’s what I think most of us are going to want to know.

    I’ve always struggled with this balance, usually not very successfully. My inability to find an equilibrium contributed to the demise of my quest for a PhD and a career in academia. Even now, when my kids are both past high school, I still struggle to make enough time to do my editing work and also to do my share of the household and family maintenance. No matter what I’m doing, I’m sure I should be doing six to twelve other things and trying to figure out which one of those I should do first when they all need to been done RIGHT NOW.

    Someone should make a Magic Eight Ball to deal with those kinds of dilemmas.

    But you must be something right (and a silly husband helps), because your kids helps you wash the dishes!



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