Our first day of summer was May 22nd. We dove straight into the pool that first week and never looked back. It’s been a busy season with swim team and day camps and cook outs and social events. And yet, I still struggle with letting go of my online life to live in the offline world. I’m guessing that many bloggers are challenged by the summer season, where kids are home from school and summer fun is begging to be had by all. And despite my convictions to be in the moment and grab at all the good that summer brings, I still suffer from the pull of all things blogging that often haunts my peace when I am not getting things “done”.
It’s been a slow weaning process, and I am still working on how to balance it all. I want to stay in the online world I hold so dear to my heart and continue all my amazing relationships with so many blogging friends. I want to read up on the countless blogs I follow, and support my fellow comrades as much as I can. I want to peruse Facebook for hours to see all the pictures and statuses of beloved friends and I surely want to respond to so many posts that are constantly being shared in Facebook groups I belong to and the communities that I treasure online.
But I can’t do it all. I can’t.
My days fly by in a blur of driving my kids ‘to and from’ about a dozen times a day, feeding them constantly and doing the endless chores that parenting two active kids entails. My laundry piles grow in the summer, as do my grocery bills. The time to sit in front of my laptop and soak in the words of others from around the world is limited at best. And as much as I long to dive in and continue to write and read and share and engage, I find that I am sacrificing one for the other too many times.
So what to do?
That is the question I have been asking myself since summer began.
I’ve let go of a lot of blogging responsibilities, through the force of nature really. Time IS limited, no matter how much we try to stretch the minutes out. So as I have attempted to squeeze in as much blog activity as possible during those ever slight ‘in-betweens’ of living, I feel like I fail miserably at keeping up. Oh, how I wish I could do it all.
But I can’t. You can’t. NO one can.
So I began making some decisions that will set some boundaries to my blogging and hopefully allow me to live freely this summer without feeling the constant pull and pressure from the online world. Maybe these ideas will help you too…
1. I limit my Facebook engagement by turning off all notifications that go directly to my email inbox. This was hard at first to do, because I wondered what I was missing all the time, and when I would go onto Facebook , I felt overwhelmed at all the posts I missed and all the people I would want to interact with about oh so many things! Most bloggers are involved in several Facebook groups, and there are many I love with people I consider close friends. It’s hard to not invest my time with them all, and even harder to feel like I have ignored or neglected so many sharing threads, questions, concerns, status updates and blog information between them all. But now, I make a conscious decision to dive into Facebook when I know I have about an hour to engage as much as I can during that time, and that is my limit. Not having all my notifications go into my inbox is incredibly liberating to me. Most bloggers know all too well, that if you take a day ‘off’ from online world, there will be hundreds of email notifications to sort through when you return. I no longer have that to worry about! WOOT!
2. I limit my link up parties, sharing threads, and blog reading. I enjoy link up parties so very much, and Facebook group sharing threads too! There are so many great writers I love to read, and these are wonderful ways to discover new writers and blogs. They are also time consuming. I don’t have that kind of time in the summer to visit many who participate in these wonderful opportunities, so I will only do this when I can and when the topic for link ups really inspires me.
3. I will write when I am inspired, and not force a post. Oh, I have so much I want to write about! But when the summer fun and busyness continues, I find myself not wanting to sit down and really delve into sorting through my thoughts and words. When I feel the pressure to publish a post, I will weigh it against my writer’s gut… and not write just to post something. It’s tempting to simply pull off a post just to keep my blog active, but that isn’t why I write. If I write to inspire and encourage, then it must come from a deeper place. If I don’t feel it, I won’t write it. It’s okay, if my blog sits for a week empty of new fresh content, because chances are- all my readers are out offline having their summer fun too.
4. I will try to read at least five blogs a day. This is totally doable. It’s a small amount for all the blogs I know and love, but at least it will keep me in touch with many bloggers I love to follow and also keep me connected to the blog world. It’s my minimum expectation, which will lower my stress level too. If I somehow find a good block of time to read more blogs, then surely I will! But as a safeguard to feeling overwhelmed, I will go by the five a day rule.
5. I will limit all my social media engagement by setting a time limit. Whether we are on Pinterest or Twitter or Facebook or Google Plus or Instagram… and many, many more social media outlets- this is where time truly takes rapid speed. It’s amazing how we can spend what feels like a few minutes on any of these wonderful outlets… only to find an hour has flown by, or maybe more! This is another area I will set firm boundaries on, and only enter these ‘time warps’ when I have the actual free time to do so. Sure, I will miss a ton of good stuff- but at what cost? Sacrificing real life images, conversations, and activities. I want to live them, rather than read about them.
6. And lastly… and this is the most important one, and the hardest choice of all. I will NOT feel guilty for setting these limits! I love my blog friends just as much as my offline friends! When I set these limits, I feel like I am being rude, perhaps disrespectful, or even neglectful of friendships I cherish. It feels a bit like I am not returning a phone call, or stopping by for a much needed visit with a real life friend. It truly does. It feels like when you are with a group of friends chatting it up, and one friend never responds. It feels like when your friend is hosting a party and you don’t show up. It feels like a friend who shares her account of a raw and powerful experience, and you don’t hug her and comfort her aching heart. These are the things I might miss… from the Facebook groups, the blogs, the social media, and ultimately my time off the online world. It’s so very difficult to let go…
But as with all friendships- there are seasons that wax and wane and the solid ones make it through. Much like our beloved offline friendships, the love and respect and admiration holds on- even when time flies and weeks go by without seeing one another and sitting together sharing our detailed busy lives.
So I will trust that despite the distance, and the deliberate disconnect- my beloved bloggers and I will do as friends do, love each other through this stretch of thin air and full sun…
And check in from time to time to say “I miss you and can’t wait to catch up soon! Hope you are having a wonderful summer!”
Oh, and hey-
I really do miss you, and cannot WAIT to catch up soon!! I hope you are having a wonderful summer!!