Simplifying & Slowing Uncategorized

What happens when you unplug for six weeks

I love my cell phone.  While we’re at it, I couldn’t really live the way I do without my laptop.  I’m no tech-guru (I know just enough to be dangerous), but I truly appreciate all we have gained through the gadgets and social media we have at our fingertips.  Sometimes I appreciate technology too much.  I have been known to sit with my computer open for hours, typing away at a book manuscript or working on reports for my paid job.

photo courtesy of ivory mix

Over the years of motherhood, I’ve tried to gracefully incorporate the elements of life that call me away from being directly accessible to my family.  We home educate.  Translation: my kids and I are in each others’ faces pretty much round the clock.  I work from home.  I write this blog and books.  In order to do well as a mom, a writer, and an employee, I sort of have to do a balancing act like the guy who spins all those plates on sticks.  Keeping multiple things going used to stress me out.  I don’t know about you, but I tended to share my stress with those I love most.  My family paid the price for my overwhelm.  Something had to give.

Resisting the Magnetic Pull of Social Media

A few years back I conceded that Facebook had a grip on me.  Like a Pavlovian dog, I would jump at every little beep notifying me someone had liked something or replied to a post comment.  Embarrassing, yet true.  Lent came around and I decided to give up Facebook for 40 days.  It was hard, but something amazing happened in the process.  I no longer flinched at notifications.  I wrangled free of the internal hold I had allowed social media to have on my time and impulses.  My family and I engaged more with one another.  Being offline allowed me to be more present and engaged in skin-on relationships.

photo courtesy of

Since I don’t think Facebook is from the devil (that’s another post entirely), I got back on.  It gave me such perspective and restored my self-control to take that break.  Returning to social media after that fast was wonderful.  I reengaged with people I missed (some friends at a distance and some connections I have in groups).  The best part was, I didn’t feel the push to be excessively engaged, check status updates, click through when notified.  My time away restored my ability to choose well.  As I say to my boys: master your habits, don’t let your habits master you.  

Taking Regular Breaks 

Since that experience, I regularly give myself time off social media.  Guess what?  Life goes on and very few people seem to notice I’m absent.  They don’t host a social-media funeral for me.  They keep posting and engaging as though my presence mattered very little.  As humbling as that is, I think it’s super-healthy.  I am not the crux of anyone’s existence and my interactions online are not the key to their survival, encouragement. or entertainment.  Refreshing perspective.

photo courtesy of noah silliman

This summer I decided another fast was needed.  As I posted on Facebook and Instagram, “Summer is a great time to take a break.  I’m taking a vacay from Facebook and Instagram.  No social media for summer.  I want to invest in my children, focus on writing, and process some emotions over a few situations we’ve endured this year.  That all means setting aside time and it also means not numbing myself with the ease of turning on a screen to scroll.  I love connecting with people on Facebook.  Super-love it.  That said, it’s time for a break.  See you all August 1st.”  With that, I unplugged.  I had to arrange “substitute leaders” for my Intentional Motherhood Group.  Otherwise, I was out.

Weaning Isn’t Pretty, or Is It?

The first few days I found myself facing the temptation to post whenever my younger son said something cute.  Oh, seriously?  Yep.  This only confirmed to me how entrenched I had become in social media again.  I took those desires to “post” and turned them into prayers or into texts (sharing the sweetness with a friend).  Over the initial week, I felt fewer urges to go online and I found myself clocking more steps on my Fitbit, laughing with my family more often, and spending time pausing to take in the sweetness of summer.

image by heartshomeward

I also wrote.  And wrote.  And wrote.  I finished the book I started in April, “Slow Down, Mama!: Intentional Living in a Hurried World.”  I took a trip to see friends in Texas.  Y’all the pie was worth the trip alone!!  I’m still working it off a few weeks later.  Most of all, I recalibrated.  In the middle of these six weeks off God moved a few mountains in a crucial situation.  It’s been quite a summer.

A Careful Re-Entry

When I got back online, I found everyone I missed still there, willing to have me back.  I chose carefully where to re-engage.  My time online is intentionally less than before.  I purposely turn off the phone and the laptop and play a game or make slime with my son (yes, I do make slime).  I’m living out what I’m writing.  I’m savoring life and I’m setting the tone for what healthy use of screens can look like.

Now that I’m using social media again, I’ve decided to adopt a new practice to keep the talons from ensnaring me as they always seem to do.  I’m taking Fridays and Sundays to completely unplug.  No computer, TV, or phone (except to answer calls or personal texts).  Here’s what I don’t want: to look back on this season of motherhood and family life remembering how consistently I posted online, how regularly I blogged, or how many followers I accrued.  Instead, I want to cultivate a life smattered with memories of slowing down for what matters most.  That means a little less Facebook and a lot more face-to-face time with my people.

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  • Reply
    August 16, 2018 at 7:18 AM

    Patty, I have often been surprised at people jumping when my phone makes notification sounds and then asking me aren’t you going to check that? I learned many years ago that I have an issue with the TV! Netflix and Amazon Prime present a huge problem for me! And now that I don’t have children at home, I can get lost in a binge watching of a season!

    Well my phone and social media Don’t Own Me Like You were sharing, I need to do something about the TV! And not all TV shows are evil! And I have YouTube so that I can play my favorite Christian music videos and I have a Christian linked with tons of Bible studies that I can watch, but when I’m in that binging mode, I don’t go to those, I go to Netflix or Amazon Prime.

    the Bible says confess your faults one to another that you may be healed. I am confessing my fault to you and publicly and asking the Lord to give me strength to break this connection. Actually, needing to sit in the recliner for hours on end has not helped with this, but now that I can sit up and I can write and I can read and I can talk to others about their books, I can cut my TV watching Talon down. I like the Friday and Sunday fast idea!

    you fill my life with so much encouragement and edification! I am so thankful that I can call you friend!

    • Reply
      August 17, 2018 at 3:06 PM

      I think your current situation of recovering from all you went through makes it hard not to be engaged with screens more than usual. I am praying with you to cut the cord on the TV (not literally 😉 ) and to be able to spend more time in what gives life to your soul. Making use of screens a little is never bad (well, rarely). I said to a friend the other day, it feels like leaving the gate to the pig pen open. You let a little more in than you had intended and before you know it, things get out of control. The good thing is we can always fast again to dial it back in.

      • Reply
        Christi Wildman
        August 17, 2018 at 3:39 PM

        Yep… As I’m healing, it’s less and less tv time! Except the my Bible a prayer book and music are on my phone as well as books! 😉

        Interesting… When I’m in a hotel with Jim, traveling… Never any tv… Writing or art or enjoying the beauty of God’s creation!

        • Reply
          August 18, 2018 at 9:28 AM

          I’m thinking: there’s a season for everything. Sometimes it is time to “come away, eat, and rest.” Screens, in moderation, are good for that. Love you, Christy.

  • Reply
    August 16, 2018 at 8:19 AM

    This is such a wonderful post. I also wanted to unplug a few months back but I didn’t bring myself to actually doing it and with this I think I am willing to give it a go. I’m an extrovert and yet still an introvert. Weird right but I noticed that I hardly spend time wothy family even when everyone is home , I’ll end up confining myself to my room, watching a movie or on my phone. I think it’s time I take a break and actually spend time with my family, my siblings especially because slowly it seems like they are growing up so fast and are gonna even grow to the level that I can’t talk to them because of how much time I spend alone. Thank you for this

    • Reply
      August 17, 2018 at 3:02 PM

      I’m so grateful that you came to Hearts Homeward and that you were encouraged! You won’t regret unplugging. I guarantee it. There’s always that little twinge of wanting to log on, but that passes. I’m rooting for you!

  • Reply
    Horace Williams Jr.
    August 18, 2018 at 12:59 PM

    I believe this is my first or second visit ti your site, Patty. I thoroughly enjoyed your post and I can appreciate your perspective here. I admit I was not on facebook too much before my stroke. However, when I began taking my first steps in rehab, my Physical therapist recorded me walking and I posted on FB. My friends and co-workers were thrilled to see this update on my improving health.However, I do love your comment that no funereal was held while you were away. I have noticed something similar as I focus writing more consistently during the Summer. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate the insights you’ve shared. I hope you have a wonderful and may god continue to bless you and yours in all your endeavors.

    • Reply
      August 18, 2018 at 2:07 PM

      Horace, you are such an encourager. I’m grateful for your visit here and your perspective. I would love to share your book when it’s finished. Let me know the timing and I will let the people who follow me know about it. You are called to do what you are doing, for sure.

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