Saturday, April 10, 2010

The New Rules

The internet is down. Gasp! What will I do while I drink my coffee and eat breakfast? What will I do to escape from real life for a few minutes in the middle of my day? Will I miss out on some great deals from my online parents group? Who has emailed me that I won’t know about? How much time can I spend trying to fix the problem before I am categorized as “obsessed”?

For the past several - erm - months, I have been thinking about cutting down on the amount of time I spend on the computer. At one time I had told myself that I would not use the computer when the girl was awake. Hm. That didn’t take. A couple of days ago I implemented a strict “Computer use limited to one email check/hour while E is awake” rule, coupled with a “No Facebook while E is awake” clause. Just making the rule made me feel like a bad mother. I mean, who sits on the computer while their child fends for themselves in the background? Shudder. Something needed to be done.

You see, I’m a fly-by surfer. The computer is always on, always logged in to email and usually to Facebook. Also occasionally to Amazon and other online shopping websites while I debate whether or not to pull the trigger on various purchases. (I’m casting a pretty wide net with the use of the word occasional.) I don’t spend large chunks of time sitting at the computer (except during naps and at night), but I can’t seem to walk past it (and it’s conveniently located in the middle of the apartment so that I’m ALWAYS walking past it) without doing a quick “Check Mail”, and perhaps a little “News Feed” update.

---First check to see if the internet has come back up---

I don’t want to be addicted to the computer. I take pride in the fact that I don’t have a television. It is important to me that E doesn’t grow up glued to the screen, brain numbed into submission and motivation beaten senseless. I used to watch a lot of television; it’s how J and I used to spend the hours between roughly 5pm-11pm every evening. I loved it, and I hated it. It was so liberating when we got rid of it. But now I’m afraid that I’ve just replaced it with another equally debilitating vice. It’s just as important to me that E doesn’t develop an obsession with the computer, stripping her of all need for real human contact. But at this point,

---Second check to see if the internet is up---

the computer is one of the focal points of her day as her mom and her dad spend so much time at it that she figures it must be pretty important. We don’t let her use it, and probably because of that she always wants to get at it. The only time we let her near it is to Skype with my parents, and she gets so excited and wants to press all of the buttons. It’s obviously going to be a source of interest for her, and we’re obviously going to have to let her use it at some point and set some boundaries and limits and strike a balance and all that parenting crap, but I think the first thing we need to do is get it in check for ourselves. One of the reasons that we stopped watching tv was to set an example for our children. This is the next challenge for us. After that it will be cutting back on my chocolate consumption, but I’m not ready to talk about that yet. Let’s stick with the computer for now.

The Rules
  1. Email can be checked only once every 3 hours, as well as during naps and in the evening. Replies to email are limited to naps/evening unless absolutely necessary.
  2. Absolutely no recreational computer use (FB, online shopping, etc.) while E is awake.
    1. Time spent on Facebook is limited to 15 minutes per day.
  3. Online banking, mapping/scheduling reference and other “semi-legitimate” browsing permitted on an as needed basis - but is limited to 5 minutes at a time.
---Third check---

4. More time is to be devoted to writing. Blogging, emailing friends and family to stay in touch and working on various writing projects should be the main focus of computer use.

I feel better already. Wish me luck on this daunting challenge, and feel free to inquire on my progress. All encouragement/harassment/brow-beating will be appreciated. It’s for the good of the children.

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