One minute facebook sanity savers

sanity-saving-facebook-tipsThere’s no denying that facebook has changed the way we interact with each other. We can now feel more connected with people we cherish who we never get to see, keep up to date with news and areas of interest and enjoy a laugh or a WTF or two. However, on the flipside facebook can also resemble a 24 hour soap opera – an endless source of parenting competition, passive aggressiveness and all out blowups. Whichever is your experience – and it’s possibly a bit of both – there’s also no denying that facebook is one giant time suck. You just go in for an innocent check of the news feed and you emerge hours later armed with a whole heap of useless information and a little bit traumatised by the views harboured by other members of your extended friendship group or on pages you like. Or maybe that’s just me.

I had a facebook break of around three weeks or so at the start of the year and I must say I felt freer than I had in a long time. By not updating my status, I was free to be in the moment instead of describing it. With no pressure to ‘like’ what was served up in front of me by facebook, I could use that time to do other things I like and see people I like instead. I felt more mindful of moments, less distracted and more present. Since then, I’ve looked at ways that I can enjoy the benefits of the connectedness of facebook without being completely addicted to its juicy gossipy nothingness.

So, in under one minute join me and:

1. Delete your facebook mobile app: This is a hangover from my self-imposed facebook ban. Get rid of that damn thing. Yes, I know it’s handy when you’re waiting, killing time or on public transport but ask yourself if there would be something else better you could spend that time doing. For us mums, that may be as simple as closingour eyes and taking a few deep breaths. Yes, you may miss out on something – that was the overwhelming fear I had when I first did it – but your life will be a lot richer for it. You’ll also be protected from making spur of the moment updates that you may later regret when the heat of the moment is over, so WIN-WIN!

2. Defriend, hide and unlike: We all like a facebook related whinge from time to time about how facebook always changes the rules and doesn’t serve up the things we really want to see. And that’s true to an extent, but there’s also facilities there for you to customise your experience by getting rid of your facebook deadwood by defriending, hiding from newsfeed and unliking. Look, it’s uncomfortable to start with but once you’ve started it’s totally liberating. If you did it all at once, it would definitely take more than one minute, so my strategy is to take action with one or two a day. It may be a page you’ve outgrown (unlike) or a friend that’s facebook presence is leaving you feeling less than positive (hide or unlike depending on how extreme it is) or someone who’s views you find so repugnant you’re actually not sure how you ended up friends in the first place (unlike!).

3. Don’t take it personally: It’s evident that people take a lot of things personally on facebook. Sometimes it’s hard not to. But you do have a choice. If you see an annoying post, just scroll on past and definitely don’t read the comments, they’re sure to be even more annoying, and maybe consider taking a step two if it’s a repeat offence. Also keep in mind that you’re also potentially annoying people, and that’s OK! You don’t have to be all things to all people. I’m more than aware of the irony of this post showing up in your facebook feed and annoying you too. In that case, just use your mouse or finger to click past me and unfollow too. I won’t be offended, honest!

4. Cultivate those things you do love: Love a facebook page or a person? Let them know! These are the relationships on facebook you should be cultivating. Throw them a random like, comment or even a direct message. An out of the blue hello or a message to tell them you love what they do would make their day and make you feel warm and fuzzy at the same time. It will also help ensure you see more of them around your news feed.

5. Enjoy facebook mindfully: Remember when you had to log in to a computer to enjoy facebook? Go old school for awhile. Boil the kettle and pour yourself a tea and sit down and have a read of your favourite pages, groups or what your favourite people got up to today. Social media is absolutely constant and you’ll never really keep up with everything, which can leave us feeling anxious if we  dip into it a lot. Slow down your facebook consumption and I promise you’ll enjoy the experience much more!

I’d love to hear how you go if you try any of these, so please drop me a line in the comments. Or if you have any other quick tips to keep facebook and your sanity. I’d love it if you could relate to any of this that you use the buttons below to share it. 

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No more babies? How do you really know when you're done?

No-more-babies

Do you ever know when you’ve had your last child? When I held my baby boy in my arms almost two years ago, it felt so definite that I was done. Our family of four was complete. But as that same baby boy nears his second birthday and I slowly give away and sell the big items of his and his big brother’s babyhood, the question sometimes rears it’s head again ‘Are you sure you’re done?’.

I’ve pondered this question over the last couple of weeks and for me, I think the answer really is ‘yes’ but the tug of emotion that comes with change and letting go of those baby years has hit more than I thought it would. Maybe two years is the length of time you forget the struggle of that first year and the idea of snuggling a newborn head to yours and taking in their sweet smell becomes somewhat romantic, maybe it’s purely the biological pull or perhaps it’s my inner hoarder trying to trick me into keeping all the baby stuff ‘just in case’. Whatever it is, despite all the emotions, my rational self has made up its mind and it continues to pull these thoughts into line. So, maybe you’re never really done – you just reach a point where you make a decision to be done?

So, how does my rational self (and that of my husbands) know that two children is the right number for our family? Here’s the thought process I’ve gone through, and the discussions we’ve had, to reach the point that we’re getting rid of baby things. My hope is that it will help you, if you are tossing up whether to have another child.
1. Financial situation: Look, I wish that money didn’t have to come into it but for us having another child would severely stretch our finances. For us though it can’t be the only reason, as there are always ways to make do and you really can’t put a price on the love that children bring into your life.
2. Life goals: For me, this meant looking at what kind of life you want for you and your family and if adding another child would impact this in a positive or negative way. This can be tied to the financial goals, but it can also be about freedom, travel and personal growth.
3. Demands on time and resources: For us, this was a bit of a biggie. With J needing extra assistance with his speech and gross motor skills, it already sometimes feels we’re struggling to fit appointments and practice in, while also allowing him time to just be a kid and give Hugo the same opportunity. Having another child would make this even more difficult.
4. Demands on sanity: I’m the first one to admit that the baby years had a huge impact on my mental health and sense of self. I don’t function well with lack of sleep and combined with my perfectionist tendencies, I end up being really hard on myself. The past few years have taught me a lot about being a bit kinder to myself but even so, my feeling is that another child would push me past my limit sanity wise.
So now it’s back to packing up those well-chosen things that served our baby boys and us so well and moving onto the next stage with memories of those sweet snuggles and struggles that got us here.
How about you? I’d love to hear how you decided you were done with the baby years? Or how do you know you’re not done just yet?

5 sanity saving tips while caring for sick kids

looking after sick kids

It would be an understatement to say that last week kind of kicked my arse a bit. Hugo was sick with a virus and then an ear infection and the poor little guy needed his mum ALL the time. Which is fair enough, but with being needed in such an intense way comes a side of exhaustion that I think all parents can relate to. Getting up at 4.30am everyday, being woken at night and then gaining only an hour reprieve during the day (if I was  lucky) can quickly send you a bit crazy, which I realised when on Sunday morning at 4am I screamed at my awake children that ‘I’m not depressed I’m just tired! Go watch TV if you won’t go back to bed’ Yes, friends it was not my finest parenting hour, but that’s what a week tending to the sick on no sleep will do to you!

So, given that there will be many times when we all experience the ‘joy’ of sick children, I’ve put together five lessons from my week of snot mopping and panadol-filled syringe toting for you all.

1. Embrace the helplessness

Looking after sick kids is such a helpless feeling, but the first step to staying sane is embracing that helplessness and then get stuck into what you CAN do. It won’t be something that takes away the pain entirely but it may be something that gives your child a little bit of comfort when they’re feeling anything but comfortable. These things will almost always be excruciating for you (like watching endless repeats of Charlie Bear), but your child will feel that little bit better for it.

2. Embrace the inconvenience

It’s an unwritten rule that children will get sick at the most inconvenient of times. For me last week it was during the end of the production schedule for the magazine I work for. Print deadlines wait for no child, however sick – but having a stressed out mum, trying to do it all is no help to either party. So, I hatched a plan. With one story to finish, I went into work to get the files and information I needed, while Mr P negotiated with his work to start late. I then let my work know I’d finish my final story at home and would be in touch by email. The story was finished later that day and sent for appropriate approvals in time for the sick boy to be wanting my attention. I can’t pretend it was quite as carefree as that sounds as I was quite stressed about it, but by embracing the inconvenience and coming up with a solution that would work for me, my sick boy and my employer I felt more at ease with moving onto point number 3 …

3. Be, not do

As discussed in point one – sometimes a sick child just wants the comfort of their parent close AT ALL TIMES, as my Hugo did last week. I’m not always comfortable with sitting down for lengths of time – my head whirs with all the things I want to get done and why is my house so dirty and I need to hang out the washing and gosh, I haven’t blogged for ages (you get the picture). I found that I could feel more relaxed and almost relish my extra caring duties when I just let go of the need to DO and embraced the need to just BE. All those other things can wait … a sick child is a call to be in the now, to pay attention to what is and what won’t be for much longer.

4. Sleep when you can

It’s so tempting to use the time’s they’re asleep to catch up on all the things you didn’t get done while partaking in enforced couch time. But I found a little nap, even if it’s for half an hour, is enough to charge the batteries and improve the mood. I also put myself to bed early instead of staring blankly at a TV or computer screen and awoke the next day a lot happier for it. The day after my 4am crazy yelling bout, my husband got up to the boys while I enjoyed a couple of hours extra rest and here I am a day later feeling like a completely different person. It’s OK to insist on some extra sleep, I promise you’ll feel better!

5. Escape if you can

This one also falls into the self-care category and although it’s last on the list, it’s definitely one of the most important! Being home with a sick child all week, with noone to talk to in real life can make you go a little bat-shit crazy. So, take any chance you have to escape once the child is asleep and in the care of someone else. I didn’t feel like going to my usual yoga class but I made myself go and found a little bit of myself while doing so and on Friday I arranged to meet a friend for a meal and a glass of something bubbly. This human contact made me feel less zombie and more human and ready for whatever the next day threw at me.

So, these are just 5 of my lessons from caring for my sick child last week. What’s your best tips for looking after you while looking after a sick little one?