Months ago, as we were in the middle of our transition down under, we realized that we had been using IPads as a bit of a parenting crutch. The months prior to the move consisted of a lot of preparations – to sell the house, to move from the house, to send our belongings across the world. And once we arrived, getting settled in.
We have all been there, right? Let’s face it – sometimes it is easier to set them up with a movie, game, or learning activity and know you have just bought yourself 30 minutes. Parenting is hard work.
Of course, there are so many parenting books on the market that no matter what your parenting style, you will find something to back it up. Me, I like to simplify it a bit. Bribery and Threats – the foundations of parenting. Rewards for good behavior. Consequences for bad behavior. For us, taking away IPad privileges is the threat that has worked the best. “If you continue fighting, you will both lose your IPads for 1 day.”
1 day turned into 2, which turned into a week.
Our kids have now been IPad free for 2 months and we have told them they may be able to play them on Christmas. Maybe.
It sounds funny and while the break from technology was the result of bad behavior, we have realized something else, it is nice. Really nice.
At first, we worried that it would be punishment for us more so than for the kids. But, what we quickly realized is “out of sight, out of mind.”
Time that was once spent with heads buried deep into technology has been replaced with creative play. All the things we remember from our own childhood, things we look back on fondly, we are now seeing in our own children. More outdoor play, running around in the backyard chasing one another. More puzzles. More Legos. More creativity. We have had our entire living room turned into a speed boat made of blankets and pillows, our office turned into air traffic control and have made houses out of left-over moving boxes.
And I couldn’t be happier about it.
Our family has officially surrendered the IPads to the back of the closet and I would be okay not seeing them ever again, unless necessary for a school project.
As we pried the IPads from our children’s hands, it was met with a lot of resistance. The idea of surrendering anything is a challenge. In fact, I was catching up with a friend and former client last week – someone who I absolutely adore – and we were discussing this very thing, but in a completely different context.
While our children had to surrender to their creativity because they were no longer tied to an electronic device, she and I were more interested in what it means to surrender to life, to the greater plan.
We laughed quite a bit, both agreeing that it is easy to surrender to the plan and “let it all go” when your bank account is healthy and you don’t have bills to pay.
For a long time, her and I had both been very driven in pursuit of our careers, sometimes even having singular vision as it relates to our professional lives. For both of us, the last year has brought interesting lessons that have forced us to take a step back and look at things through a wider lens.
For her, it came in the form of depression and having to dig her way out from under the black cloud. For me, it came in the form of changing everything in my life and walking away from a career I spent decades building.
We both had to take a step back and really examine what we wanted and why we wanted it. Were our professional desires weighted on our own egos or were they part of the greater plan? At some point, did it become more about the accolades as opposed to making a difference?
In my pursuit for truth, I had to get brutally honest with myself.
I realized, at some point I lost the person I was when I first set out years ago. Bright-eyed and big dreams. That’s the thing about success, sometimes you become so focused on it you lose sight of the one thing you don’t want to lose in the process, yourself. And for me, I had to let go of ego-driven success to find myself.
Starting over and doing so on my own terms was the first step of getting there, taking with me the lessons I have learned along the way, particularly in the last several years. I had to let it all go. The expectation that I was supposed to do better, be better, work harder. Part of it was my own fault – balancing motherhood and my career through some difficult circumstances at home that left me as a single parent. To preserve my own sanity, I had tunnel vision when it came to work, which became a crutch, a distraction. I went from simply wanting to succeed, to thinking I had to be Super Woman.
Now, months later, I find myself surrendering to where we find ourselves at in life today. A place that looks completely different than how life looked a year ago, but a place filled with focus. I am building my own company and doing it for all the right reasons. At the forefront of that is my family and my own well-being.
Success and ambition fueled by making a difference.
At one point in our discussion, my friend asked me how I found the balance between letting go and continuing to be driven? How do you find that place where you allow your drive to lead the vision, but you are still surrendering and know the plan is unfolding just as it is supposed to?
And I told her these exact words, “I have no fucking idea!”
We both agreed that while the ‘dream it, achieve it” mantra is lovely in theory, you can’t manifest a paycheck sitting on your ass.
At some point your vision and your dreams are met with an overriding, unexplainable trust. You give what you can and put it all out there, throwing your board out to the waves and waiting for the right one to catch you.
Just like we had to trust that taking away the IPads wouldn’t drive us all insane, I have also had to trust that our new life will work out just as it is supposed to. My friend had to trust that timing wasn’t right when her plan didn’t work out as she thought it should.
Plans don’t always look like what we thought they should.
This week, let’s all challenge ourselves to let go of the expectations we hold over ourselves, that limit us from reaching our true potential. Instead of focusing on what we think life should look like, accept and celebrate it exactly as it is. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.
Cheers to a new week!!