Sneaky Neglect and Digital Minimalism

I recently returned from a women’s retreat and came away with some pretty tough convictions. As a group, we watched this presentation given by Betsy Gomez from the 2017 Revive Conference. You can watch it below if you like, it is very good!

Her message was inspired from the chapter in the book Adorned called Taste of Heaven by Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth and boy did it hit me hard.

I was struck with the realization that if I struggle to keep my home maintained or I struggle to spend quality time with my kids and give them the attention they deserve that I am probably neglecting my God-given calling. It doesn’t mean I have to keep a perfect home (that’s impossible!), it doesn’t mean I have to be a whiz at organizing, or a pro decorator, but are there other things in my life that are sneakily taking precedence over my home or my family? I was suddenly facing the reality that my own priorities easily get out of whack.

Younger women with children need to be particularly careful that other activities – even good ones – don’t cause them to neglect their children and homes.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Adorned p. 215

So how do I balance other activities with homemaking/mothering? Can I say with confidence that x,y,z pursuit is not at the expense of home management? Am I neglecting my God-given responsibilities to pursue my own interests? How do I successfully keep my priorities in check, serve my family well, and also utilize the unique giftings and areas of interests God has given me?

These questions and more mulled through my head over and over. I think this was at the heart of why the Junk Crush experience was so testing on my marriage! That event DID sneak to the top of my priority list and I neglected my family a little bit during the few weeks leading up to that event. It’s not that what I was involved in was wrong I was just bad about maintaining a godly perspective of my priorities. I do not want to keep making that same mistake with the other things in life I want to give some attention to.

Much of the stress and strain are the result of attempting to take on activities and responsibilities that compete with my core commitments and my priorities for that season (or that moment). Periodically we need to push the pause button and ask ourselves if some of those activities (jobs, hobbies, even ministry involvements) would be better postponed for another time when we can undertake them without violating other God-given responsibilities.

In God’s economy, something vital is lost when we neglect our calling at home.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Adorned p. 215 & 221

For me, I knew right away what one of the main culprits of my disorderly priorities were: distractions. I have a lot of freedom in my schedule because we stay home, homeschool, and I don’t have a ton of outside commitments (we have a few). I love that our lifestyle allows lots of freedom and that fits my creativity well. However, sometimes there’s too much freedom and that freedom turns into distractions and the distractions keep me from focusing on my priorities.

So, I felt God convicting me of my neglect and being distracted by things all the time. I am still trying to figure out how exactly I can stay focused on things and not be distracted so easily. But the biggest BIGGEST cause of my distractions is: social media/my phone! I already committed to a 1-month long break from instagram but it has become apparent that I need to do more if I want to honor God better in my home life.

So, after some thought I decided to start using an App called Quality Time to set specific rules and guidelines for myself and my phone usage. So, Monday through Friday from 9:00AM to 3:30PM the only thing my phone can do is text and call. A special screen pops up that says “Home Priorities” if I try to open anything else. So, my goal is to not use any social media, no blogging, no computer, no writing, no nothing from the hours of 9 to 3:30. During these hours my only focus should be my family, homeschooling, house chores, cooking, other social (face-to-face) activities etc…

It’s been about a week since I’ve started doing this and it has actually been kind of hard. I think I have a worse phone addiction than I thought. It’s also hard because I know the problem stems from my heart attitude, not from my phone itself. I can still find plenty of things to distract myself from housework without needing my phone or computer! I just get more creative with my distractions.

I am a work in progress but I recognize this is a journey and it will take some time for me to develop better habits, heave healthier boundaries with my time, and be mentally strong when distractions pop up. I am not aiming for perfection, just improvement. I know my kids and my husband will be the perfect people to ask about how my progress is.

Since taking more serious measures with limiting my phone and computer use I came across this article:

It is Cal Newport’s idea of “Digital Minimalism” that I like and believe I have already started trying to practice. Once 3:30 hits, we will have school work done, some chores done, at least a plan for dinner, and we can relax and enjoy some downtime. The kids can watch a show and I can then open up my computer or my phone and work on a blog post or catch up on my emails. I can feel good about allowing myself that time for my own interests because I’ve given my home and my family my all first. So far, this method is working out pretty well but I know I still can be distracted during the day by the random thoughts floating around in my brain. So, this is definitely a self-discipline journey as much as it is a daily detox from technology.

I find this process is helping me realize just how much time I actually DO have to pour into my creative projects or hobbies. I feel less stressed about what I want to get done and instead just feel peace that in this 1 or 2 hour slot I got to work on this or that guilt free. I am feeling the rewards of this exercise with my kids as I try to really be more present with them during the day and enjoy the time with them. The blessing of that has definitely been noticed by myself and by them.

I want to know, how do you keep your *insert distraction here* from messing up your list of priorities? What boundaries do you find helpful or useful? Why do you think we can be so easily tempted to neglect important things? What do you think of the idea of #digitalminimalism? It’s a discussion I want to be more open about and can’t wait to hear what further wisdom I can glean from you all.

Thank you so much for reading!

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Published by Jessica

Wife, mom, homeschooler, DIY-er, blogger

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