We’ve been having some conversations in my house, about screens… about why I want to say yes, you can play your game (because I love you, I want you to be happy, I enjoy having undisturbed time myself when you’re playing etc), and why I want to say no (your brain is wiring itself into pathways right now and we want to be careful about what we’re wiring in, habits are harder to break than create.) Everything I’ve read about screens (and games and social media) indicates that, even while we’re aware that they’re building in tools to make them addictive to us (intermittent rewards, dopamine hits), we can’t resist becoming addicted. Knowing, in this case, isn’t power, if we’re still using.
I am still navigating this zone.
But the conversation yesterday has left me pondering. Because in our household, we all have a reflex when we’re bored, or when we’re stressed/distressed. There is a soother right there, available for us, urging us to pick up and drop in… My go-to tends to be instagram or twitter… short little bits of content that make me feel absorbed, engaged and as if I’m moving fast through the world. Partner’s go-to is a host of news sites and craiglist and a forum or two. Kiddo is building up great edifices in Minecraft. All on devices that are lying around, easily available, attached to us for most of the time.
I want my kid to have a bunch of tools at his disposal, not just one that is maybe a tool and maybe a set of handcuffs for his mind.
I don’t imagine that life in the world is going to get easier… the pandemic might fade, but disruption, upheaval, economic collapse, racial reckoning, and climate, are all going to be live and impactful.
There are going to be a lot of triggers for feeling stressed or distressed.
I’d like him to have more tools for regulating himself, calming, feeling safe, grounding into his body, expanding into a more parasympathetic state so his executive brain function and imagination and peripheral vision and digestion can all come back online…
But I’m not running a wellness retreat or a nature school.
I’m just a mom.
With a job.
And a house to manage.
And my own regulations and disregulations and stresses and distresses.
And my own maladaptive habits – like self-soothing with a glass of wine, or an instagram surf.
What do I want to cultivate, for myself, as habits or reflexes, for when I feel bored?
Boredom is a beautiful gateway to creativity, if I can not squander it consuming an instagram feed. If I pick up a pen and notebook, or my new knitting project, or a pile of magazines and start making a collage, or a puzzle. Or a book. Or a guitar. Or a recipe and start brewing up something magical. Or a dance party.
What do I want to cultivate, for myself, as habits or reflexes, when I feel distressed?
Picking up the phone and calling a friend, going for a walk in the woods, going for a run or a ride, playing pingpong, rolling out the yoga mat and doing some sun salutations, making a cup of tea, running a hot bath… Honestly, none of these are my immediate go-to. They weren’t modelled for me. I have to be super conscious about turning toward them, instead of reaching for the easier things. But, I want to expand the repertoire of things that our household turns to… so my kid can have a bigger toolkit.
And sitting around on our individual screens is a lot easier.
And sometimes, I need a moment of easy.
But, it also feels like a beautiful inquiry and opportunity, to say, hey, what hobbies can I start to build into my days… ? What hobbies can I play with, that might one day become habits, become my coping mechanisms…
What do you have? What’s your boredom reflex? What’s your stress response?