On Thursday I perched in front of the computer with a cup of steaming tea watching the rain batter the patio outside. I felt a mixture of emotions from the cosy feeling many of us get in the warmth of inside. In front of an open fire whilst the wind howls outside. To the slight unease that this is possibly the end of summer. Time for jumpers on top of multiple layers, masses of clothes to wash. That time of year when I put the washing line down outside and wonder whether I will open it again before March next year.
Thursdays and Fridays are days with my children. I work on the computer in the morning before they get up and with clients in the evenings. During the day it is their time. So, I was pleasantly surprised that the sun was shining brightly by the time they woke. We decided to cycle to the swimming pool. It was that sunny I forgot about the morning rain and thought it a great day to wash the bed linin.
We had a great cycle, a fun swim and a chill in the café for a snack before we biked home. I do not consider myself a weather connoisseur (well you only need to remember that I forgot about the rain when I saw the sun). I rely on others to predict the forecast. So, when the lady at the table next to me remarked that it looked as though it was going to chuck it down I was jolted out of my sunny happy daze and taken straight back to the morning monsoon. I suggested to my children that we get out and home as quickly as possible.
As we rose from our chairs to leave, it started. Hail stones, thunder, and lightning!
Help no phone!
What do you do when you do not have a phone to call home for a lift? After waiting for ten minutes and then got out there for an adventure. We arrived home drenched, but it was exciting, we had to cycle exhilaratingly fast (well as fast as the legs of a newly turned six-year-old can go). We had to motivate each other the entire way to keep up the momentum. It was fun.
When we arrived home, we had some lunch, the children played whilst I tidied the house and cleaned a little. In a relaxed way we spent some time on formal education. Once I had tided up the lunch bits I noted the children engrossed in a game again. I looked around and for the first time in a long time realised I did not have anything to do. I could have sat myself back in front of the computer to do some work, but I have committed this time to the children, and I wanted to be available for them.
So, I did what I think I do not ever have time to do. I sat on the sofa for half an hour and read a book. The children were playing blissfully on the floor. The log burner was on, the weather was still dreary. I had a freshly brewed pot of tea, a comfy sofa, and the choice of a book I am enjoying or the magazine I had just received through the post. My partner and I sat together and engaged in conversation for most of the time.
If I could bottle that feeling I would. Only I think it might not need bottling. I had changed something in my life. I had decided at 9am that morning to turn my phone off with the intention of not turning it back on until 5am the following day.
All or nothing
As an all or nothing person I recognise that putting my phone in a cupboard with the plan to only go to it if it rings does not work for me. I constantly ponder on the thought that I could have multiple messages waiting for a response. I contemplate whether there is any new news – and even when I am not, I habitually click on the home button. So, three weeks ago I trialled this new way.
There have been complications, the first time I needed a phone number. We do not have the yellow pages or phone directory in our house so that was a stumbling block. Later in the day I was driving somewhere and experienced some apprehension about whether I was going in the right direction. The car’s inbuilt sat nav did not have the location I needed – another thing I rely on my phone for.
The following week I was better prepared, I made sure that I had everything I needed for the day before switching off the phone. Until I started work in the evening and realised, I could not access my online diary without my phone or play the music that I like to during sessions.
Last week I added my online diary and music to my work phone, which whilst still a phone does not have any applications on it, a telephone rather than a smart phone. I hope that each week I will get better at knowing how to live without a phone.
The phone & Anxiety
You may have read my previous article in Healers magazine; Is your phone causing you anxiety? When I wrote this article, I was not aware that my phone is causing me anxiety. Reflecting on my recent experience I sense that it must be. Turning my phone off cannot make me feel good. It can however free me from negative feelings that having my phone constantly on generated.
My escapade on Thursday prompted me to turn my phone off for the day on Friday and Saturday (I did turn it back on in the evening). Without a phone I feel free. I have so much more time (if my iPhone recorded screen time is anything to go by, I should have between three- and four-hours extra time a day). I have found that I can focus on other things, such as reading a book or magazine. My time with my family is more attentive as I am less preoccupied.
At the moment I am considering how I can leave my phone off more during the week. There are times when I want it on – such as when the children are not at home. When I am working my phone is a helpful bit of kit. I have decided that I need to be able to live without my phone to live with it.
How to switch off the phone
In my previously mentioned article, I give some tips on how to reduce your screen time, if you are at the beginning of your journey, they are a great start. You can also read my blog post on whether your anxiety is causing your internet addiction or vice versa here.
Turning the phone off completely seems radical and it is not for everyone. Incidentally, so progressive is the idea that I already have people around me suggesting that I do not turn it off! A little like when one quits smoking. Other smokers feel some unease and try to convince the non-smoker to; “just have one tonight”. Or the non-smoker may sense smoke wafting into their face as they hang out with their smoker friends. Sadly, our screens are addictive and with their great benefits there are also some negatives that I’m trying to muddle through obliterating from my life!