I was living in the vortex of the infinite scroll…
For years, I was a social media junkie until it hit me that I was spending more time scrolling through other people’s lives than actively participating in mine. There were days I would spend upwards of 6–8 hours on any given social media outlet. It’s devastating to me now as someone, who within the last year, has drastically decreased the amount of time spent on social media.
I finally got my social media addiction in check though deleting several accounts and all the apps on my phone. While in the midst of writing a book, I have a hard NO Instagram rule and only post my articles on Twitter. Otherwise, I easily get lost in the scroll. It was time to find a way to bridge the gap when I wasn’t writing. I craved something that could make my life more fulfilling.
Reading. Such a simple answer.
Reading Books Resulted In Deeper Relationships
Social media distracted me in all facets of my life, even though I thought it was enhancing my relationships. In those 14 years, I read less, convinced I didn’t have the time. Truth is, I didn’t make the time. Since dialing back my social media usage, I’ve read 65 books in the last six months redirecting my energy to something more productive.
Once I declared myself a writer, I engrossed myself in a whole mix of genres, soaking in different authors, styles and levels of books.
- Middle Grade Books
- Young Adult Books
- Non Fiction: Self Help, Memoirs, How to’s
- Easy Beach Reads
- You name it, I’ll read it.
It wasn’t the number of books I’ve read that surprised me, but the amount of conversations I started having about books. On social media, it’s all surface chat, never really getting into anything deep, but that all changed.
The discussions at home grew as well. My children and I read several series of books together, talking about them on a daily basis. We don’t sit and have a formal chat but bring them up in passing. Things like: What chapter are you on? Did you read about so and so? Have you gotten to the part when?
As a parent, having this connection to books with my children make reading worthwhile. They see me day in and day out reading everywhere I go, setting the example for them. As a result, all four children love to read. Books are strewn across their beds where they typically read the most. We have a running list of requests for books at our public library where they recognize us as soon as we walk in. This makes me smile.
Getting Past The Small Talk
Working from home and being a stay at home mom for the last eleven years leaves me with little time to get out and talk to a lot of people. That’s partially my fault because I’m an introverted homebody. When I do get out, I tend to chat up a storm with the nearest warm body. It’s as if I realize that I’ve spent the last several days speaking only to my children and need that adult interaction. This year, I stepped out of my box and volunteered at my daughter’s school library.
Working in the library has been a fun experience learning the ins and outs of the system. Shelving books that students bring back allow me to see what books kids are currently enjoying. As a writer, it allows me to tailor my work toward a target audience of things they are interested in the most. As a middle grade writer, this volunteer time is includes a plethora of free research for me.
In turn, I get to have conversations with one their gatekeepers, who also has a love for books. Speaking to a librarian who is surrounded by reading material all day long allows me to pick her brain on what books are popular. As an avid reader herself, she suggests books I’ve never heard of that I can add to my reading list.
Our chats lean mostly towards our kids and everyday things, but they also go past the small talk. She will indulge me in what she thinks about certain books and the politics behind questionable material for this age group. Being able to have this time to speak with an adult who shares my interests is not only beneficial to me as a writer but as a person.
Reading Makes Me Happy
Beyond the conversations, reading makes me happy. I love to curl up on the couch and get lost in a book. The connection I get with characters goes so deep that often I am sad when I get to the last word. All in all, it makes me happy spending my time engrossed in an activity that is good for my soul.
My original goal was to read 52 books in a year and while I’ve far surpassed that, the plan is not to stop or get sucked back into social media. Reading is now a habit I love sharing with others. Knowing that I’m not on social media as much, people engage in conversations with me about what is going on in their lives. They ask me what I’ve been up to and that’s when I get to tell them about my book I’m writing and the one I’m currently reading.
Put your oxygen mask on first. Self care is essential for all parents to make it through the day.
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