I once read the typical Internet user spends somewhere between 2-2.5 hours per day on social media—a total of 876 hours per year. That number is astounding and helped kickstart my entire journey of living a social media-free life. And truthfully, while living social media free does have its shortcomings at times, it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself.
As you’re reading this, you might be wondering why I gave up social media, especially during a pandemic where many of us are already feeling disconnected. The truth is simple though: this past year has made me really question what was bringing me true joy and satisfaction in my life, and social media just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. Sure, it’s frustrating when my sisters talk about something that happened on social media I didn’t see. And there are a few people I followed who I now wonder how they’re doing or what they’re up to. But, as a whole, my life has only improved from removing social media altogether.
What would you do with an extra two and a half hours a day?
Would you maybe start that side hustle you’ve been wanting to get off the ground? Would you call your dad, grandmother, or best friend to catch up? Maybe you’d try your hand at baking, take a nap, or spend some unstructured time with your family. Two and a half hours is a lot of time, and there are days I’d give anything for a little extra time to get just one more thing done.
If you’re wondering what I’m doing with the extra time on my hands now that I’m not on social media, here’s a little peek.
1. Reconnecting with my marriage
My husband hasn’t ever had social media. At the beginning of our relationship, I saw that as a red flag because I couldn’t find out anything about him on the Internet. Now, it’s one of the things I love about him. He has his guilty pleasures of course, but social media isn’t one of them. Over the years, we’ve had conversations about how my social media use made me distracted and often disengaged from our relationship.
It’s not easy to admit there were times I would get upset with my husband because he didn’t do or wasn’t acting like the Instagram husbands I heard about online. Looking back, I’m embarrassed to admit I felt that way. Now, my focus is on our life together and growing it in a way that feels good for us.
2. Doing more creative work
In addition to writing for The Everymom, I also work a separate full-time 40+ hour/week job. I can say, without a doubt, if I was putting more time into scrolling social media, I wouldn’t be able to juggle both of these jobs as well.
To be a writer takes an incredible amount of creativity, strategy, effort, and focus—especially if it’s for a publication or platform rather than a personal blog where you call the shots. The amount of time I put into thinking of pitches, writing, rewriting, editing, and formatting is fun and rewarding, but also time-consuming. I love that I can put my time, effort, and energy into writing and hopefully making a difference in another mom or woman’s life rather than passively scrolling through social media.
3. Learning my personal mothering style
Parenting advice comes in many forms, and there are so many people on social media sharing tips on how to parent your child. But if I had a choice, I’d rather intentionally search for an answer to a question I had than be inundated with the information while scrolling.
Being off social media has allowed me to tune out the unnecessary advice and information and learn to trust my own motherly instincts again. Since doing this, I have seen a huge improvement in how I handle tough situations with my toddler, sharing parenting responsibilities with my husband, and so much more. As parents, we are all just doing our best, and sometimes we can lose sight of that when we are constantly watching what other people are doing. Stepping away has made this motherhood learning process a lot more enjoyable.
4. Spending more time with my son
With working so much and my son in daycare full-time, our time together during the week goes by so fast. When he gets home, I put my phone down and away (unless I’m snapping photos, of course) and focus on him.
Sure, in moments when he throws a tantrum or is just not being his best self, it would be easy to pass him off to my husband and scroll through the highlight reels of social media. Now that I don’t have social media as an escape option, it takes some concerted effort to remedy the situation or find a different stress reliever.
Regardless, I want to see him scoot his truck across the floor over and over or read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom for the 40th time together. And if nothing else, I want to sit there next to him while he watches Daniel Tiger and just be in that moment with him. It’s not all glitz and glamour—parenting is amazing but hard. Having fewer distractions with our limited time together is important to me.
No matter your reasoning for being on social media or not, I hope you’re able to shift even 30 minutes away from scrolling and put it towards something meaningful to you and your life. Because, of course, our real lives are what happens when no one else is watching.