I have decided that this summer I’m saying NO. 

I have three kids, a houseful of things that need to be done (don’t we all?), plenty of supplies from all the hobbies I’ve meant to learn, and crafts I was supposed to do with the kids. I’m creative, even if the execution doesn’t always look like my imagination dreamed it would. But I’m also a procrastinator, and the two do not mix well together.

Until last year my garage could have had its own episode of Hoarders; we won’t go there. Add in an obsession with my phone’s ability to do everything from letting me watch news reports, check-in with family and friends, take pictures of my kids, read my latest book selection, online shop, watch TV, look up random facts, even write blog posts, and I have a major problem.

Facebook social media
William Iven of Unsplash.com

After nearly three solid months of COVID running through my Facebook newsfeed, the senseless death of George Floyd and the country’s turmoil in the aftermath was more than my anxiety overdrive could take.  

In the first weeks of quarantine, my phone was my constant companion. My battery would be run down by noon daily from messaging friends (to see how things were in their area, among other things) and checking the news, both local and national. I made a conscious effort to pull back and while I was still on social media too much, at least my phone wasn’t dead long before the end of the day. 

Tuesday morning, the weekend after the justice for George Floyd marches, I started my day by checking Facebook. By the time I had made a couple of swipes to scroll through my newsfeed, I realized I was done. I was angry, I wanted to cry, and once my mind latches onto something I have a hard time not constantly thinking of it. I needed a break and I knew where that had to come from.

Facebook…it had to go. At least from my phone.

I’m less likely to take the time to turn on the computer and go there so it’s not a complete hiatus. I’m just cutting out the easiest way for me to get there. My need to back away from social media wasn’t just about the state that this country is in, but also realizing my obsession was keeping me from being what I should be. A mom who is present.

My priorities were screwed up. I’ve known it for a while, but this was the straw that broke this Mama’s heart. I need to be a better mom, and I want to be more productive. Social media was hindering, not fulfilling that desire.  

I posted that I needed to take a step back and that if anyone needed me to text because I was deleting Facebook and Messenger apps from my phone. Quickly I made the little icon shortcuts shake and pushed the “X” that deleted them from my phone’s home screen. At the moment, I’m unsure how long I’ll leave the apps deleted; probably until I’ve retrained my fingers from trying to open the app out of habit to get my fix. The app for my son Charlie’s duckie timer to ease transitions has been opened accidentally quite a bit since it slid into Facebook’s empty space. 

So, what am I saying no to? 

  • I’m saying NO to social media being a constant daily necessity.
  • I’m saying NO to letting distractions rob me of my mommyhood.
  • I’m saying NO to letting moments pass me by.
  • I’m saying NO to habits that keep my boys from having the full experiences of childhood.
  • I’m saying NO to putting things off. 
  • I’m saying NO to comparing my life to a perfect snapshot of someone else’s family.

So how do you fill your time after you’ve said “No” to Facebook? You watch Hulu of course!

Just kidding… well kind of. I finished reading my book. I organized the table in the garage to hold those unused hobby supplies and (gasp!) I started my first cup design. I took thirty minutes out of my day to take family pictures for my best friend, whose husband is about to deploy. I don’t think my photography skills are too horrible and even in the heat with kids and a hubby who were not enthusiastic, I managed to get in a few decent shots. I successfully survived my day without Facebook, just barely. 

Day 2 was easier. I was motivated to keep busy so I didn’t give in and reinstall the apps on my phone. After breakfast, I threw the kids out the back door to play for a couple of hours. While I cringed at the sticky outcome I foresaw in my mind and the possible ants on the back patio, I sent them outside with freezer pops. I have a bad habit of holding my kids back from things because of the mess it could make and I need to stop. While they ran in and out the back door, I started a load of dishes and a load of clothes, started writing my monthly article WAY before the deadline, and even made brownies that I doctored up with handfuls of brown sugar, chocolate chips, and peanut butter chips.

I can’t say I’m particularly fond of not having that app on my phone, but it’s outweighed by the fact that I’m not proud of how dependent I have become on it to spend my time. I have 1,440 minutes of credit to spend each day, and I was sinking too many of those into something that I’m not getting a worthwhile return on.

My Summer of NO is going to lead to so many things. But the best one will be a summer of memories that I was actively present for.