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Do you ever turn off?

It struck me the other night on the train home from work (I think that context adds a little something, no?) as I obsessively checked email on my phone and blackberry, checked my twitter stream and Facebook and then when we went through a tunnel switched over to checking my diary and to do list until I could get a data signal again, that I really wasn’t taking advantage of my journey home to plug myself into some music and to relax and unwind.

I had stopped using the time to read and instead was using it to continue with the incessant electronic babble that forms the backdrop to my life.

Instead I was continually plugged in, distracted, on the go.

And when I get home its the same – I run in the door and I’m into handover with New Nanny, giving Littler her milk, making sure Bigger has her little bit of TV to watch and then into the routine of bedtime story and bedtime negotiation twice over.

Then its back to checking emails and into cooking dinner.  Juggling calls to work whilst trying to concoct something to eat.

And the evenings don’t get any quieter after that as I try and get the jobs done that I can’t do in the day – as I try and get ahead of myself or at least up to date with myself.  I try and cram as much as I can into the evening – trying to read blogs, write blogs, do my chores and also to get to bed early enough to get some sleep before the night time shenanigans start.

When I have a day off, work edges itself into my family time and I find myself trying to juggle work calls whilst looking after the girls.  I have had to speak to my boss whilst supervising bathtime, had to scribble down notes whilst juggling a screaming Littler, a laptop and my work phone.

And I’m wondering if my inability to make any decisions at the moment is due to being at over capacity, due to having no space in my head to ponder, to think.

I’ve decided that I’m going to have a big push on the stupidly wide hooky blanket and try and get it to somewhere near finished (well the stripes, not the edging, that could take forever) – I reckon if I do a line a day for the next six weeks I’ll be getting very close to long enough.  Hopefully. 

But what I really need is to carve out time to turn off properly – to sit and do nothing, to clear out the noises and the fuss and the constant interruptions.

So do you ever turn off?  Do you ever do nothing?  Is it actually possible to grasp a few minutes of nothing when you have small children?

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13 comments to Do you ever turn off?

  • Hubby and I are really trying to not use the computer over the weekends. We found that we were sitting on opposite ends of the living room tapping away and completely communicating through grunts and nods and “Hey, I just sent you an email…..”

    Not good!

  • I used to be like this when I was working, but finally caved in to using the off switch on my phone. A wonderful thing and completely justified to use it unless your contract says that you work 24/7!

  • Kaz

    In my case, no, I never switch off! It’s got to be quite a problem and it reached OCD levels where I’d start shutting down the multiple windows on the laptop and by the time I got to the last, I’d think, “Oh, will just check Facebook again” and ended up opening stuff again to check for any updates, replies to comments etc. Even when I eventually switched the laptop off, there was always the opportunity to check the web on my phone! So many days out or activities where I would be logging on to Facebook, sometimes at the park with my kids, the shame! My reasoning for always being ‘logged on’? That I have an active mind, that I’d be bored ‘just watching TV’, etc.

    In my case, the actual reality is that I really didn’t know how to properly switch off; how to relax! I’ve got so used to having my mind overactive, it is a hard habit to break but I’m doing my best to cut down on social networking time although admittedly is some irony that I got this blog via Twitter! Perhaps a bigger irony of my OCD/addictive behaviour is that I’m a clinical psychologist, albeit still in training so at least that serves me some excuse. I’ve started to engage in Mindfulness practice though admittedly, not as often as I could. I’m also planning to try out a Buddhist meditation class soon. I really think it’s becoming the norm not to ever switch off and it can’t be healthy.

  • I don’t and it’s doing my head in at the moment. The thing about the online switched on-ness is that it fits into the little gaps, when you don’t have the time for something bigger. Then it takes over. Between kids, housechores I’m currently as good as always on, and the little 10 mins here and there – I’m online (but I only manage to read very few blogs even, and blogging is slower than ever). I’d love to read a book again or knit/sew more but there aren’t even half hours of offtime at the moment. Trying to keep positive about it is about as big an objective as I can tackle right now.

  • Sometimes when I really feel tired I don’t switch on the laptop on Sundays. However sometimes I don’t and like Cartside says I am always on,with 10 minutes here and there and find I spend too much time online and feel very tired.

  • In answer to your questions….No, No and No!

    Think I need to take up yoga…

  • Yes. I just sit there and do nothing. You should consider taking proper lunch breaks and just sit somewhere with your sandwich, doing nothing for a while. xx

    • Muddling Along

      I’ve got out of the habit of escaping at lunchtime, mostly because my diary never seems to have a gap in it – and it also means I’m missing my exercise. Time to start pushing back against the control freak boss

  • I do grab some time, occasionally, but I don’t have a job to juggle as well. I admire you for managing it all! Maybe you should have a bath sometimes, and only take a glass of wine (or a naked man perhaps) and not even a magazine.

    • Muddling Along

      I think the bath thing has to be the way forward- and a bath with the door locked and the small people not there ‘helping me’

  • Rachel

    No, there is no switching off. I tell myself to go do yoga, then walk into the bedroom and find a pile of laundry that needs doing so I do that instead. On the rare occasion that both kids have a daytime nap at the same time I tell myself to sit down, drink a cup of tea and think of nothing, but as I’m waiting for the kettle to boil I do the washing up and before I know it one of the kids is awake, the tea is unmade and I’m still on my feet. It’s a way of life. The only way you can switch off is by sleeping and even that’s interrupted. In fact, that may be at the root of the issue?

    • Muddling Along

      Oh yes the fact that I’m so used to interrupted sleep that I was wide awake far earlier than I needed to be just in case the girls might wake up

      I think you have a good point that the multitasking make it harder to – its not that we’re only ever doing one thing, we’re often doing several at once

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