Last week our family took a 7 day holiday to one of my favourite places - Whitby, Yorkshire. My dad has been going on holiday here since he was a boy and brought my siblings and I as we were growing up. So it was quite amazing to take my own children and watch them enjoy all the same things I did as a kid.
Prior to leaving I had told my husband that I really wanted us to take a break from our phones this holiday so that we could just focus on being together and take advantage of that time. Mark is often on his phone for work and we both use our phones for social media so I wanted us to get rid of any of those apps and try to keep off our phones as much as possible. It turned into a bit of a social media fast and we've now been back from the holiday a couple of days and I still haven't been back on my Facebook or Instagram.
I'm someone who uses social media a lot - too much. I do the 'I'm bored scrolling' and I post a lot on my 'stories' of what we're up to as a family whilst watching everyone else's. I love social media - I think it's got so many positives. It's kept me connected to friends far and wide and it's a great platform for sharing the things I want to write about.
But social media can be so negative at the same time. It can take up all your time, it ruins your ability to communicate properly in the real world, it can have a bad affect on mental health and it's a place full of cyber bullying and criminals! For me I thought that it would be hard to go without using it for a full week and that I would feel this want to go online but I was really surprised that I did not feel that way at all. I didn't feel bored or isolated from what was going on! I felt in tune with myself, my family and my time was filled with everything we were doing.
Instead of standing at the cafe counter scrolling through Instagram whilst waiting on my hot chocolate, I was looking up and seeing everything around me. Instead of sitting on the sofa late at night scrolling through memes and click bait on Facebook, I was chatting to my husband or watching a favourite tv programme with him. Instead of lying in bed at 11pm flicking through people's stories, I was closing my eyes and going straight to sleep! I didn't miss it at all.
The main thing for me when I decided to do this was that Mark and I would be giving our children 100% of our attention. We very rarely have all of marks attention - he has a very high pressure job that keeps him very busy even when he's at home. Mark didn't use his phone for work once the entire trip and with our social media gone we were really just using our phones to take pictures or message family members. Major Truth bomb: a while ago Lillie asked me why I was on my phone all of the time! Ouch. Important lesson for mummy. On this holiday the kids had so much more of our attention and it has been one of my favourite trips.
I don't know if these were coincidences but this is my take on it. The kids were really well behaved for the most part of the week. Could this be because their parents were really present for most of the day and not taking 10 minutes here and there staring at their screens? I felt like we had so much more time to do everything we wanted and when it was time to leave I wasn't even sad because I felt so content with how we had spent our time. Could this be because none of it was sucked up by social media use?
I felt happier and focused - my mind was clearer and junk free. I know for certain that's because I was not using social media every day. Now, I'm not saying we shouldn't use social media! I love it and I'll continue to share and be a part of it. But this has definitely taught me a lesson on how taking time away from it can have so many benefits for me. And it's also about setting a good example for my children - because they won't stay children forever and I don't want them to be addicted to things like this where it can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety and problems with real life communication!
It has become apparent to me that there is now an expectation when it comes to sharing things on social media. We expect people to post about things going on in their lives and equally people expect you to now what's going on in their lives by seeing what they post. We need to focus more on having real conversations and sharing information and news instead of being shocked when Sally down the road doesn't know you have a new dog when you previously posted dozens of photos of said dog AND tagged her.
Going forward I've decided to try using social media only in the evenings. There can be days during the week where there isn't a lot going on (besides the three crazy kids needing kept alive) and I'm stuck at home so I do have a tendency to use my phone more. But I do think that if I make a conscious effort to not use it that I'll concentrate on more important things - things I'm perhaps procrastinating. It also means that my children will have more of my attention and we'll probably have a much more enjoyable day like we did with our holiday!
I definitely don't write this wanting to make anyone who uses or overuses social media feel bad. Please don't! Social media is a wonderful thing that has changed our world dramatically. I do think that taking a break has really benefited me and I feel better for having experienced it!