Tomorrow is the last day of school for my second grader, and the official start of summer vacation. You might remember that a few months ago I announced that I was going to try to scale things back here at Mommy, for Real, in an effort to hold onto my sanity. One of the things I’m doing is reposting some old favorites that many of you new friends may not have seen yet. Think of it as recycling, or upcycling, if you will. I’m sharing this post again today because it reminds me of what I want to accomplish this summer- really spending time with my daughters, enjoying our days together, having outdoor adventures, and taking a lot of the pressure to “do” and “accomplish” off the table. In fact, this is the first summer that I haven’t signed my oldest up for a regular summer camp–which was mostly for childcare purposes as I still work in the summer– and I’m trying to think of our experiment as a “1980s Summer”.
I want my daughter to experience summertime the way I did as a child- not rushed, not over-scheduled, full of freedom and time to explore. I will still be teaching classes this summer, but only 2 mornings a week, and although I have a few projects in the works, I’d really like to spend this summer savoring the lazy, warm days with my family.
This post– Struggling to Stay Present– is a nice reminder of where I was mentally last summer, how far I’ve come, and another nudge to keep my focus where I want it to be this summer. So you can expect a few old “recycled” posts from me each month this summer, as well as a few new ones. I hope you enjoy this one, and I expect many of you will relate to my experience of trying to do too many things at once. Happy Summertime- may yours be relaxing, full of fun, and free of stress! Sign up here to receive all my new posts by email! [jetpack_subscription_form]
Struggling To Stay Present
I have a bad habit of trying to do too many things at once. Whether it is more global-juggling too many projects in a small amount of time, or more literal- I am actually trying to have a phone conversation, make my daughter’s lunch, and eat my breakfast in the same moment, I find it is a recurring situation that I seem to regularly fall into. In fact, now don’t judge, I almost always bring my iPhone into the bathroom with me. God forbid I waste a single precious moment on something as useless and inefficient as bodily functions! Better respond to that email or click through my 52 Facebook notifications while I’m in there!
While perhaps a few of you are shaking your head with actual judgment, I suspect many other people, particularly moms, may find themselves succumbing to this multi-tasking trap on a daily basis. Why are we so busy that we can’t simply do one thing at a time? Is it our own faults, or are we swept away in a cultural mandate of efficiency, productivity, ambition, and social connectivity? I find I precariously toe the line between not wanting to miss out on a single Facebook group conversation, and trying to set my phone down often enough to not seem like a hypocrite for subscribing to Hands-Free Revolution. As it happens, I am on vacation right now with my husband, our two daughters, and my parents. We are spending a week in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, an absolutely beautiful town in which it is difficult not to find yourself more grounded and at peace than usual. And still, I force back thoughts like:
That would make a funny tweet. I need to register my daughter for dance class. We haven’t done our school supply shopping yet. I haven’t read a single blog post this week. I should really submit another post to (insert prestigious publication here) soon. How many more days until I go back to work? I need to email so-and-so before she thinks I hate her.
A few years ago, before my second child was born, I meditated daily and practiced yoga at least once a week. I spent most of my evening time genuinely relaxing, and often reading books on spirituality or parenting. When I first read Meditation by Eknath Easwaran, I was shocked to read his recommendation that in any given moment, you should be doing only one thing. That translates to: not eating while you talk, not listening to music in the car, and certainly not bringing your iPhone to the toilet! I was chagrined. But Easwaran’s words rang true; I knew in my heart that when I practiced mindfulness, stayed present, and transcended my mental chatter that I was a happier person. I’m afraid in the past two years I have strayed from my distraction-free existence, a state of being that has been complicated due to the creation of my blog.
I am trying so hard to stay present this week, appreciate the lovely scenery surrounding us, enjoy every second of our daily outings, and savor the company of my family members. I have allowed myself to drop out of the online world this week, at least partially, but I still find myself sneaking onto Facebook periodically, and frantically returning emails on my iPhone. So for the last few remaining days of our trip, I am going to step up my game and attempt to avoid multi-tasking, distractions, and divided focus as much as I can. I’m also going to try to ditch that persistent guilt that follows me whenever I feel I am neglecting my duties. I will leave you with a few of our photos from this week, and you have my solemn guarantee that you will hear from me again as soon as I am home!
Totally hoping you are enjoying your vacation. I think we are similar in never wanting to stop and miss a moment with being present online. So can relate and last year we went away for 5 days and I somehow managed, but still every once awhile like you ideas of things I needed to do crept into my head. Crazy, but true. Enjoy!! 🙂
Hey Stephanie, I heard about this cool blog about mindfulness…. LOL 🙂 But even that lady struggles with this too. Looks like you are having a fantastic vacation ~ enjoy!!!
Not….not listening to music in the car? But that’s one of the absolute joys of driving! Have a fantastic holiday and leave the guilt behind. Line in the sand etc. LOVING that Kristi’s coming on board with this 😀
I always take my iphone into the bathroom…and into bed…and…I’m going to stop now.
Um… do one thing at a time? Are you speaking English? I am so guilty of bringing my phone to the bathroom. Do you know what’s even worse? I criticize my husband for listening to Democracy Now or whatever is on NPR while he showers. I’m like “Can’t you just do one thing while you’re showering!?” But I’m just as bad. This post inspired me to get back to my meditation practice. And by that I mean meditate for three minutes for the third time this month.
Thanks for being understanding of why I am no longer going to co-hostess.
I also bring my iPhone to the can with me…you never know! I may need to take a picture 😉
Ok first, to get the “all about me” out of the way, thanks for the awesome intro, friend. Almost made me cry. Now, to the more important stuff – I so hear you and cannot remember the last time that I did not have my phone with me in the toilet. Likely it was back in the days when phones were still connected to walls via cords and mine didn’t reach. It’s so hard to do a good job of this. I felt especially guilty today as I’ve been working a lot this week, and have a babysitter more than usual…so tonight, for a short time, Tucker and I went outside to blow bubbles. I left my phone inside, contrary to every impulse of “I might need it to call 911.” We didn’t go inside until HE wanted to. It was small but it felt good.
Here’s to all of us finding more time for doing just one thing. And here’s more to you having an amazing time in Steamboat. Such. A. Perfect. Perfect place.
Oh friend I feel ya. In fact, I have recently been thinking about this as well because I have found myself on the edge of more nervous breakdowns this summer than in all my years on this earth combined- even the first years of mothering!! In some ways I think this is unavoidable. Women are more busy than ever. Few of us simply work the home. Many have other jobs in addition to the home. Plus, “the home” isn’t what it once was. the layers that have slowly been piled on over the years make the home a heavy burden at times. School has layers of projects, play dates, more homework, volunteer hours, donations, fund raisers, etc.
Throw on the sports, music lessons and other activites and the layers keep on coming. Geesh, even meal planning has layers of allergies, pyramids and budgetary constraints.
Let’s not even get started about the blogging and social media layers- more like cinder blocks on our backs.
However, I have also had to admit to myself that I am no vicitm. I have contributed to my own demise in some of these areas. I have not said no when asked to help at every school event. I hover too much during homework instead of insisting on more independent work. And I’m the one hiding in the bathroom on the toilet, phone in hand.
So if I’d contributed to the problem, that means I can be part of the solutions. I can create boundaries. I can pee without technology as a companion. 😉 Sorry for the long comment, but I just wanted to say that I completely relate. I know how addictive and controlling and overwhelming this stuff can get. But you are so right to make a purposeful plan to disconnect and focus on one (or maybe two;) things at a time. You can do it. And so can I… I hope;)
I have exactly the same bad habit. Struggling to stay present and taking on way too much which leads to mega stress and just feeds in to my inability to stay present.
This is beautifully written. I hope you’re having a lovely getaway. I went away for a week with the family and mostly unplugged the entire week too. It was wonderful!
I think multi-tasking is a bad habit that most moms have. I know I do. (And I absolutely take my phone to the bathroom!) I’m not sure why we find it so hard to unplug, but It is something I struggle with on a regular basis. Go enjoy the rest of you vacation – it looks lovely!!!
I can’t put my phone down either. When we were on vacation we had limited signal…which forced me to stay focused on my family.
I’ll be honest: it frightens me how dependent I’ve gotten on modern technology, especially that iphone! Do you think that this is more of a hazard of motherhood? Or something more about social media and blogging? I wonder how much my mom tried to multi-task…
I really hope you won’t be seeing this comment until you’re back, Steph, but once again you’ve perfectly summarized my existence. I love your description of the internal dialogue, so perfectly reflecting my own (insert name of prestigious publication, email her back before she thinks I hate her etc…). It’s a huge struggle for me as well, staying present, experiencing the moment, one that I think mostly stems from the fact that our ‘me time’ is just so damn limited, that when you get there you just try to do everything. I am not sure how to resolve this, but I’ll continue following you, my wise friends, in hopes that you come up with a miraculous way to make it all work and share it with us!
Stephanie, I know all about this struggle. A few months ago, I tried to do a 100 day to less stuff challenge. I even blogged about it. I lasted maybe forty days of doing one thing at a time and then life interceded. Reading this is inspiring. Maybe I should try it again, if not for the results, then perhaps for the journey.
Love those photos. Looks like you have a lovely present to be present in. I am a horrible multi-tasker so I gave up trying to do too many things at once a long time ago. My problem is though I am only doing one thing — my mind is worrying about all the other things I am not doing. So I stay just as distracted. Here’s to focusing on what is right before us.
Oh, I have always, ALWAYS struggled with this. I am a multi-tasking juggler. I’m never doing just one thing. I always thought that was great…until I realized that many, many times it truly isn’t. Now it’s hard for me to settle down and actually be present. I really need to work on this. –Lisa
Oh Steph, thanks for keeping it REAL. I read this great piece as I am: cooking mac & cheese, watching G playing in the back (running back and forth from the stove to her) and feeling some anxiety in the process.
Love you friend & hope you are having a lovely week!
I thought everyone took their iPhones into the bathroom with them?
I am ALWAYS thinking about something else, too. I can’t help it. But it can be exhausting, you know?
Enjoy your vacation!!!
I struggle with staying present too, Stephanie. I feel especially guilty when my kids call me out about being on my phone. But I’m glad they do it – I need the reminder! Glad you are having a great week with your family – everything (and everyone) will be right where you left them when you get home!
Aw, I love how you ended this post with the beautiful pictures of family and flowers. I guess seeing helps us stay present, doesn’t it? For some reason, I think you are going to find your way out of this bad habit of yours! 🙂
Thanks for linking with the Sunday Parenting Party, Stephanie! I appreciate the support!
Family time is precious.
enjoy your time away and always a treasure to be in the present.
Oh, I hear you. I was just praying/meditating this morning because I’ve skipped it so much lately and was thinking about how it was nice to only post to my blog four times this week instead of six like I did last week. I need to cut a bunch of stuff out of my life, so I can be present. It is a struggle to find that balance. Sometimes when I’m with my kids at the playground or Chuck E. Cheese, I can’t help but be bored out of my mind and so my phone comes in handy. But then they come up to me and want to interact and I’m in the middle of writing a tweet and I’m all, hold on, wait. Then I feel bad bc while they were totally ignoring me before, they aren’t in that moment, but I’m ignoring them. UGH! We’re going on vacation next month and I’m already trying to figure out what I need to do to be more present. I won’t have all this other stuff going on and my blog posts will be written (Haha! I hope!), so I’m hoping I can do better, but I’d like to do better right now, like today. Thanks for writing this. It’s good to know I’m not the only one struggling with it and wants to make a change.
Staying present is the hardest thing for me! My mind is always racing around thinking of everything else I could/should be doing. Enjoy your vacation!
Wait a minute…there are people who don’t take their iPhone into the bathroom with them? I can promise you, if I’m responding to an email and not at work, it’s from the bathroom.
I can so relate to this post Stephanie. It’s stressful yet addictive to read all the blogs and stay connected with our girls. If I disappear from the face of the earth for four days, I hardly think anyone notices as much as I think they do. And it’s ok for you do think the same. Do what your soul tells you that it needs. People don’t forget greatness. And that’s what you are 🙂
We’re damned if we do, we’re damned if we don’t. Sometime I lug my whole laptop into the bathroom (true story), and I tell myself it’s so my kids don’t SEE me working. In reality, I want to use every second of my day being efficient, and that’s what efficient is to me. Sigh.
Beautiful vacation photos!
Love this and I can totally relate! Actually, this week I wrote about my struggle with the same thing. I had to laugh at the line about subscribing to the Hands-free Revolution because I often feel like a fraud for the very same reason. 🙂
So glad I joined FTSF during the last two weeks!
-Brigid (The Pink Roller Coaster)
Me too. I am a terrible multi-tasker, but I’m not entirely convinced it’s a bad thing, for the reasons you mention above.
I just got back from vacation, and I had a hard time unplugging, but I had to. It seems resting and recharging are incompatible with Getting Stuff Done.
OK, I want you all to know how much better I feel after reading your comments!!! I am SO glad I’m not a freak for bringing my phone to the can. Whew. And also- please know it took every ounce of restraint for me to not respond to these comments and instead honor my sacred blog-free vacation time. XO to all…
i totally get this post. I struggle to put down my phone, I often take ‘extended toilet breaks’ to check facebook – because i’m trying not to show my child that my phone is more important than him, but the irony is that leads to me be absent entirely as I move to another room to sneak a peek at texts, FB, instagram etc. sigh!
thanks for linking to the SPP, I’m featuring you this week and pinning to the Sunday Parenting Party pinterest board.
I totally get this. I leave in a couple hours for our 5th annual road trip and here I am – catching up on blogs. I’m so nervous this year, because it’s my first road trip as a full time blogger. I want to keep posting, and not just trip updates, and to stay connected to my new friends – but I fear it won’t be possible. The struggle to stay present is so very hard and fraught with so much guilt!