I’m increasingly understanding that the busier I get, the more I find myself a little bit unhappy. This afternoon, I unscheduled the nanny in hopes that I would carve out 4 hours to be with my son O before I picked his brother up from school. He’s still sleeping as of now, so I remain tethered to the computer.
Despite the best of efforts, my son is having a marathon nap this afternoon, something I would normally be ecstatic about. But today, I’m not. I wanted to see him, play with him, have some time. But like we all know, parenting doesn’t work this way. Children don’t follow the script.
So here I remain, entirely plugged in. I’d had a nice conversation at the beginning of my day with an accomplished writer who was thinking of blogging for a cancer center. I gave her words of welcome, encouragement, excitement, and hopefulness for her proposed blog. At one point I said, “You’re the perfect person to do this!” (Because I believe this). But I still gave her warnings, too: this will consume you, eat you up, take over your mind. As any blogger (writer?) knows, the world becomes framed by your blog and every experience you have seems to vie for a possible leading role in your writing. I told her how I basically sleep with my iPhone (not kidding) and approve comments whenever I can and as quickly I can. It allows me to know exactly what’s going on on my blog and hopefully improves the readers’ experiences. But it comes at great cost. I’ve had a total of about one week entirely unplugged since I started this blog November of 2009. I really can’t remember what life was like before that time.
As O finished his nap, I read Lisa Belkin’s post about unplugging tonight. I commented and linked to a post I wrote when I was unintentionally unplugged for a day last summer. That good FORTUNE led to a surprise picnic with my sons, time away from work, time less distracted with my family, and of course no tragedies or disappointment from others on the work front.
Why is it I find it so hard to carve out time to disconnect? Why am I beholden to my phone, social media, the internet, Twitter, this very blog, my pager, and the messages I manage for the work I do? Is it my worry? Is this the so-called Helicopter parent/Helicopter blogger/Helicopter Pediatrician syndrome? I’m naming this, yes. But I don’t think I’m entirely alone…When I’m away from my kids, I always have my phone near, in case of emergency or if whoever is caring for them needs access to me immediately. Do you? This is security both for me when away and for them, I reason. But is it unusual and unnecessary pressure to put on myself? Have I done this alone? No one has asked that I have immediate access by phone.
Then I saw this: a $15 investment/insurance plan, this afternoon. I bought it. I wonder, do you think this was an utter waste of $15? I’m treating it like an insurance plan and gift to myself, my family, and friends. My kids…
No Twitter, you won’t be allowed in at certain points…This.starts.now. I’ll tell you how it goes.
What do you think? Do you ever truly unplug? Is your phone ever off when you’re away from your children? When you’re with your children? It’s good to unplug; I know this. I need to do a better job both away and with my kids. If you have any question, read this NYT series: Your Brain on Computers.