Balance, Health, Toddlers

Deleting Apps: Being Present in a Busy World

Realizing more and more that life is what's happening in front of me, not on my phone.
Realizing life is what’s happening in front of me, not on my phone.

Life is full. Between guest teaching part-time, polishing up my manuscript, and chasing a toddler, I’ve been busy. Fitting in time for exercise, cleaning the house, socializing, and just plain relaxing has gotten trickier.

As I lay on my yoga mat yesterday, it hit me that one of the biggest drains on my brain power is Facebook. While I have a limited amount of time to sit on the computer, time spent holding my cell phone is an entirely different matter. I manage to scroll through my Facebook feed while doing all sorts of things. Standing in line at the grocery store, riding as a passenger in the car, waiting for my lunch to be ready, the list goes on. It seems like I’ve managed to fit phone surfing into every cranny of my life, which got me thinking about brain patterns and the ability to just be still and present in any given moment.

I have the urge to check my phone multiple times an hour, and mostly it’s for Facebook notifications so I can see when people have posted to groups or respond to something I put up. Information I definitely don’t need in the middle of spending time with my daughter or going about daily life. Watching a mom peruse Facebook while pushing her child in a swing the other day really drove this point home.

Add in the possible health effects of cell phone usage and it seems obvious it’s just not worth the risk. So, this morning, after checking my phone three times in less than hour, I deleted Facebook. I’ll still use it on my computer (because, let’s face it, I also think it’s great for connecting with people), but my goal is to no longer pattern my thoughts around needing to check my phone for updates.

I’m hopeful life will feel more relaxing with extra moments in the day. So far, so good.

Attachment Parenting, Babywearing

Primer: The Underground Mom Market

Using the resale sites (and some money we made selling clothes) we turned stroller A into stroller B for a major upgrade!
Using the resale sites (and some money we made selling clothes) we turned stroller A into stroller B for a major upgrade!

Used stuff has come a long way since I was a kid. Sure thrift stores still exist, but now you can also buy used kids stuff on Facebook from families in your community. If you are already a pro, no need to read on. However, if this concept is new to you, might be worth the read.

In Folsom, where we live, there are two main groups with thousands of moms selling used kids’ items. If you search “moms” and/or “kids” with the name of your neighborhood, similar groups will likely pop up, (and, if they don’t, you could always be the first to set one up!). Usually the groups are closed, so your profile will need to state your location in order to be added.

I wish someone had shared these groups with me before E was born because I am sure it would have saved us money. Then again, purchasing the new stuff is kind of a rite of passage. You think you want everything fresh for your baby, then he or she arrives and you realize how quickly you go through different items for different stages.

That’s the beauty of it. Most of what I have purchased has been practically new and what I have sold has been the same, (do you know how many baby outfits she wore only once?). In our case, I regularly go through her clothes, toys, and other items and post anything I would not use (or do not want to store) for our next baby.

I save the cash received for use toward future items. For example, I got an entire summer wardrobe of cute, minimally-used clothes for just $7. I also sold our umbrella stroller and threw in just $60 to upgrade to a compact jogging stroller. Barely-worn shoes, toys, the list goes on!

Here are some of the advantages of using Facebook for used kids’ items:

  • You can see the profile of the person you are going to meet, which helps minimize the “stranger danger.” I often note if we have friends in common and stalk through a few photos.
  • You can leave items on your porch for pick-up, eliminating the awkward examination of used goods and making it super easy to collect cash. My husband often laughs when I pull out an envelope of money from under our welcome mat. “What did you sell this time?” is a common question around here.
  • Unlike Craig’s List, the community is moderated. If someone is repeatedly reported for breaking group rules, they get removed. I am pretty sure this helps eliminate people who yell at you for not being willing to deliver a free crib. Yes, that is my Craig’s List sob story.
  • Items generally sell for about half of what they cost new. This has opened up our baby gear collection to brands and items I wouldn’t have considered purchasing otherwise. Toys often sell at even greater markdowns, while babywearing wraps and carriers have their own niche groups and often sell at or above retail if hard to find, (HTF).
  • It’s also a wonderful way to cut-back on the guilt of consumption. I read an article about how many barely-used breast pumps end up in landfills. Sites like these help to conserve resources and lessen waste.

If you’re new to resale groups, here is how it generally works: Someone will post a picture and description of the item for sale, along with pick-up information and price. You comment with Int (interested) or NIL (next-in-line) if you would like to purchase. The seller will then contact you with a private message. If you decide to pass, the next person in line will be contacted.

My sister and I were laughing the other day about all the acronyms and jargon used on these sites. I’m sure there are more but here are some of the most common to help you acclimate a little faster:

-GUC: Good-used condition

-EUC: Excellent-used condition

-NWT: New with tags

-NWOT: New without tags

-Int: Interested

-NIL: Next in line

-Pass: Changed mind

-PU: Pick-up

-xposted: Cross posted, or posted on more than one group page (so you might not actually be first in line!)

-ISO: In search of

-PM: Private message

-TIA: Thanks in advance

There you have it! Children’s shopping made cheap. Just be warned, it is also addictive.

Balance, Birth, Hopes, Pregnancy

How Much of Your Family do you Share on the Internet?

We all want to protect our kids on the Internet, but where do we draw the line? Photo Credit: Sean Malone Photography
We all want to protect our kids on the Internet, but where do we draw the line? Photo Credit: Sean Malone Photography

This is not a new question. Everyone has their own approach. Some of my friends share nothing, others share everything. As a blogger, I often get caught in the middle. On the one hand, sharing is part of what I do, on the other, I want to protect the stories of others, the stories that do not belong to me alone.

When it came to pregnancy, my husband and I were cautious about how quickly and how much we shared. Still, as time passed and we became more and more excited, more and more trickled onto the web. Then, when E. was born, I could not help but shout everything from my keyboard, pictures and all.

The reality is we live in a world where a lot of our connections are enhanced by technology. When I share pictures, it is not so the girl who sat four desks behind me in sophomore chemistry can tell so-and-so, “Guess who had a baby?” Instead, I share so my mom, mother-in-law, aunts, uncles, cousins, and close friends can take part in my joy, (and, it is a whole lot easier to post an album to Facebook than to try and email a batch of pictures. Trust me, I have tried).

So, this morning, I deleted more than 100 “friends” from Facebook. I went quickly, so I am sure some stayed who shouldn’t have, and some went who maybe should have stayed, but it felt good. Darn good. I only kept people who I see in real life, who I would love to see if they were closer, or who I have formed an Internet connection with because of similar-aged babies, etc. Everyone else went, including I am sure, some perfectly nice people who I hardly know.

While the Facebook cleanse was liberating, it still did not address the bigger question; how much of my family should I share on the Internet? Here is what I have decided:

1. Facebook: I only plan to share pictures for extended family/close friends. On that same vein, I am only accepting friend requests from people who meet the above criteria. While I get why some people want huge friend lists for networking purposes, I have decided my personal Facebook will be used to share my (somewhat) personal life. This still does not address the issue of how companies use Facebook to data mine for personal tidbits, but I figure if I use it more for pictures than for words, the better.

2. Blog: This is where things get trickier. I want to blog about motherhood but I don’t want to give away my daughter’s story without her permission, (and, let’s get real, she can’t give her permission for another seventeen and a half years…). My decision is to focus my blog more on my experiences as a mom than on her experiences as a child. Along that same vein, she will now be referred to as E. and pictures will be chosen very carefully, especially as she transitions out of babyhood. Eventually I plan to include no pictures of her face.

Phew. That’s a lot to decree and the truth is that I am still figuring it out. My generation is in a unique position as new parents because social media became a big part of our lives before our kids arrived. I completely get wanting to share more or less with this digital world, as I often feel conflicted myself. I would like to hear about your approach to sharing your family on the Internet. Where is your line of comfort? I realized I had been skirting along the edge of mine for months and it was time to take a new approach.

Balance, Health

The Thin Line Between Addiction & Community

I really did want to be a minimalist parent... One of this week's online "finds."
I really did want to be a minimalist parent… One of this week’s “finds.”

In the last few weeks, I have joined a variety of local groups for moms on Facebook featuring information on everything from baby wearing, to general health, to buying and selling used items for kids. These “closed” groups are fantastic– with a few strokes of the keyboard, I can get moms to chime in on just about anything while also scoping out used baby items for sale in my neighborhood, (you know, the ones I swore I would not let clutter up my house but now provide an awesome midnight obstacle course).

There is also something missing. Sure I could be brave and go to the meet-ups that correspond with each group, and maybe I will, but it is so easy to just chime in remotely and continue to go about my day. And, I have to admit, I really did not need any more reasons to go on Facebook. It is already tempting enough, as I sit nursing, to reach for my smartphone and let time slip away as I keep up on whose kid just did what or who just got married or had a baby or took some delicious trip to a place I will not be visiting with an infant anytime soon.

That’s what I hate to admit. Since Eloise has been home, my Internet addiction has skyrocketed. It is just too easy with the Internet at my fingertips to overuse social media and get caught up in googling every question that crosses my mind, (What is the best size woven wrap for a new mom? Is yellow skin on the scalp craddle cap? Which woven wrap gets the best reviews for a first-time wearer?). I easily check Facebook and/or Instagram ten times a day, or MORE. I cringe to type that.

A recent picture I posted to Instagram. Instead of just enjoying a walk with Eloise, I had to immortalize it online.
A recent picture I posted to Instagram. Instead of just enjoying a walk with Eloise, I had to immortalize it online.

Then I start to question how this smartphone usage affects my daughter. Does using my phone in her vicinity hurt her development? Does the fact that she already reaches out to swipe my screen mean I am in trouble if I expect her technology use to remain at a minimum? Am I missing important mom moments because I am too busy trying to capture the picture for Instagram? Okay, beginning now, I will limit myself to only using my phone when she’s asleep. Oh, wait, but I need to check…

Welcome to my neurotic brain.

I assume people used to have to actually leave the house to meet other parents. I guess I should put that on my short-term-must-achieve list: leave house, meet someone new to talk to about motherhood. The Internet is just too perfect of a black hole for introverts. I get sucked in. I feel connected. I mean, come on, I even have a blog for goodness’ sake.

While there are definitely enough positives in these online communities for me not to drop out, I also need to do something about my addiction. My first attempts at a solution? Paperback books are going next to my nursing station and I am taking an Internet break on my trip to my mom’s this weekend. No, really, I am… She lives in a land where cellphones roam, (amazing those places still exist, right?!).

But don’t you worry, I am not leaving yet, so I still have time to obsessively read your comments:

Are you as addicted as I am? Do you have any tricks to keep yourself from relying on technology too much? When was the last time you got out and interacted with *new* people when you didn’t “have” to?