This is the first part in a series titled Making Relationships Matter
As I look back during the past year, I try to find ways to become a better Catholic, wife, mother and neighbor. The new year is a perfect time to reflect and remind myself of the importance of improving my relationships, particularly my relationship with God and family.
Part of this yearly reflection is to seriously look at what gets in the way of these precious relationships.
And the answer is not surprising: spending too much time online.
The internet is a formidable gift to aid us in research and communication. It is a powerful tool we can use to receive and disseminate information in the least amount of time. It is supposed to make our daily lives easier and more efficient. But if that’s the case, why are we spending more and more time online?
I had to take a long, hard look at my life and admit that I was finding more joy getting lost in the social media world rather than finding joy in my vocation as a wife and mother.
So one of my resolutions this new year is to make my relationships matter, to strive to be ever present to the needs of my husband and children and, most importantly, to be more connected with God in prayer.
Four Simple Ways
1. Use It. Don’t Abuse It.
St. Maximillian Kolbe, who understood that technology was a powerful means to evangelize and spread the Gospel message, once wrote:
“Above all, we must discern what is good in them and what is bad, because there is no more effective way to fight and overcome an evil trend than by recognizing the good it contains and applying it immediately to our cause.”
There is no question that social media is a powerful platform for evangelization. But when it is used pretentiously and not according to its proper purpose under Heaven, it can very well take peace away from our souls…and our homes.
When I find myself spending too much time online reading, commenting, liking, pinning or sharing everyone’s blog and social media posts, I have to snap myself out of my autopilot mode and ponder carefully this quote from St. John of the Cross:
2. Think Before You Click
One of my rules when I’m online is that I cannot have more than two tabs open at the same time. This rule discourages me from clicking on too many articles that will turn my fifteen minute online time into three hours.
This new year, I will take my two-tab rule a step further. Before I even click on another blog or article, I will ask myself:
- Is the information something I need to know or is it something I want to know?
- Will this information help me become a more present wife and mother?
- Will this information help me get to Heaven?
3. Establish Limits
Here are some things I’ve adopted to establish limits on my online time:
- Outskirts of the Day – I go online in the beginning of the day after morning prayer before the children wake up or after the children have gone to bed at night. This has allowed me to be more focused on praying and tending to my family’s needs during the day without online distractions.
- Set a time limit – When I spend time online, I try to stay on for twenty minutes in the morning and twenty minutes at night. I use social media mainly as a form of communication and if I have time, I only try to post something positive, beautiful and uplifting.
- Certain days of the week – There are certain days of the week where we absolutely do not go online. We consider Sundays a day of rest and this includes resting from any commotion that goes on in the internet world.
4. Replace Internet Time With Something More Productive
The best way to change a persistent habit is to replace it with a more positive alternative. Instead of spending time on the internet, I try to go outside and run around with my children. Instead of spending two hours on social media, I try to spend two hours decluttering and simplifying my home.
Better yet, instead of going online, I try to remain still and spend some much needed quiet time with my Sweet Lord.
The beautiful thing is that every time I choose prayer, I feel more refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to face the rest of my day…and the rest of my life!
The internet is a gift that should be used ever so wisely. But time is a far greater gift that should never be taken for granted. We are only here on earth for a finite number of days.
Our children are only here with us for so long until they grow up and embrace their own vocations. Let us make this time count.
And I guarantee that every time we detach, unplug, and focus more on loving God and our precious families, we will slowly rediscover this beautiful truth that our internet-free mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers enjoyed in ages past:
Living life without the internet is nothing more than… Living Life!