How I Escaped My iPhone For 3 Whole Days

By accident, that’s how. I left my wall charger in Hermanus on a recent weekend away and then The Band took my car charger with him to Afrikaburn. And it has been the most wonderful accident, learning experience and eye-opener.

Day one was just a huge adjustment – it felt as if I was walking around without my knickers on. It was half fun and half filled with anxiety – I kept having these happy moments when I realised that I hadn’t checked my phone for hours, followed by a sense of ‘what if I’m missing out on Stuff and don’t even know about it’ anxiety.

Day two was my chance to go out and buy a charger – I got to the fabulous Buro store in Stellenbosch (go there if you ever want amazing, personalized service – they never cease to impress me) and it was closed, since it was Workers’ Day, which I had forgotten about. I was surprised that I felt really relieved to see the doors locked and the sign telling me to return the following day. It felt like someone had just given me an extra day’s holiday. And by now I was really relishing the silence and the fact that I was solely responsible for what information I was consuming – and when. I had completely lost that feeling that perhaps someone was trying to reach me and getting offended that I wasn’t responding. My dearest friends know that I sometimes need to go underground and that it’s nothing personal. And since I had both my kids with me all the time and The Band was without signal of his own in the desert, I realised that there was no need for me to feel any obligation or need to be available at all.

Late afternoon on day three saw me returning to Buro and purchasing a charger. I arrived as they were locking up for the day but being the awesome people that they are, they ushered me in and allowed me to make a quick purchase. I plugged in as soon as I got home and have just switched on my phone to find the following waiting to be consumed by unsuspecting old me, either on Twitter, Facebook or by email:

  • The One Thing You Should Be Doing For A Bloat-Free Belly
  • 6 Reasons To Start Using Coconut Oil As Toothpaste
  • Drinking enough water is vital to good health & when you do is just as NB
  • The 6 Mental Steps I Took to Manifest A 6-Figure Salary
  • 3 Ancient Ayurvedic Rituals To Rock Your Mornings
  • Here’s what gluten really does to your food
  • 10 Ways Moms Can Balance Home and Family
  • Seven tips for purposeful parenting
  • 5 Prenatal Yoga Moves Every Mama-To-Be Should Try
  • How to Overcome Anxiety and Depression Without Medications

It’s pretty clear from the headings what sort of newsletter I subscribe to, what pages I like and who I follow on Twitter: things that are supposed to uplift, inform and empower me; things that are specifically designed to help me reach my full potential – as a working mother, a yogi, a woman, someone who has to continually watch myself to make sure that my emotions are in check (more about that in another post) so that I can maintain my balance… as a human being on this planet. And when I saw all these things waiting for me, instead of feeling supported, I felt a cold, small but vice-like hand of panic tightening around my heart. I felt my breath becoming instantly sharper and shallower, and I realised why I have been feeling so relaxed the past few days: I have been in control of my thoughts and my feelings. I have been entirely able to dictate what information I consume, when. I have not had to second-guess what I have been doing, thinking, eating, wearing, cooking, or how I’ve been disciplining or what I’ve been feeding my children, not for one second. I had eaten my morning oats with gusto and no concern about the ghastliness of gluten; I have let my kids have what we call ‘piggy night’ last night because I just did not feel like going through the rigmarole and soap opera that is bathtime can be at times; I have used normal toothpaste and I have washed my bath out with Handy Andy (gasp) because I ran out of my natural cleaning products and just did not feel like driving to the shops to buy more. I have read actual books – fiction, not self-help – and I have been a total rebel and slept for 11 hours one night and for 7 the next because I was excited about clearing out my linen cupboard and didn’t want to go to bed until it was done.

And I have felt happy about it!

It has been interesting for me to see the amount of pressure I allow these sites to exert on me. How sensitive and suggestible I am in terms of feeling that I could / should be doing (everything) better. How I really am a work in progress when it comes to being more gentle on myself and not doubting myself. How you really don’t miss out on anything unmissable if you are out of radio silence for a while.

Moving forward: I am going to unsubscribe from a bunch of these newsletters; I am going to unfollow a whole flock of tweeters and I am going to unlike a horde of Facebook pages so that I have fewer sources of unsolicited advice waiting to ambush me every time I log in / on. And I am officially banning my phone from my bedroom in the evenings. It is going to charge in the kitchen while I sleep and I am going to use my old-fashioned alarm clock to wake me up.

So my love-hate affair with my phone continues, but I look forward to this continued awareness and taking control of its dominance in my life. Give it a try – switch yours off for a weekend and see how you feel, and let me know!

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Generosity vs charity

My wonderful nanny, Noloyiso, has just moved her 10 year old son down to the Western Cape from where he’s been living in the Eastern Cape with his granny (her mum), like so many other families where the mother/father/both have to work far away from home in order to earn the money required to support the family.

It is school holidays at the moment (so my 3 year old son, Daniel, is at home with my 11 month old daughter, Isla) and so I suggested to Nolo that she brings Zukhanye to work with her the next few days before she goes on leave. She agreed and they both arrived here this morning.

Daniel immediately fell in love with Zukhanye. He is a charming little guy with bright eyes and a dashing mohawk. The two of them have spent the day playing themselves half to death, with not a harsh word between them. They have bounced on the trampoline, done circles on the back stoep with the two (motor)bikes, built sandcastles in the sandpits, made a house under the table on the front patio, played with all the toys, read books, and even caught a few zees when all the excitement got too much and they succumbed to sleep.  They shared lunch, strawberries, toys and giggles, and seemed to find a way of communicating perfectly, even though Danny can’t speak Xhosa and Zuki can’t speak English. Danny howled when it was time for us to take Nolo and Zuki home, and his last words before he drifted off to sleep tonight were ‘I love Zukhanye’.

Why, then, have I had this prickling sense of discomfort the entire day? All I had thought by inviting Zuki around was that it would be nice for him to be near his mum after almost a year of not seeing her, that it would be nice for her to have him in her sights rather than wandering around Khayamandi with some ‘cousins’, and that for Danny it would be nice to have a buddy to play with. And of course the fact that I love playing ‘happy families’ so somehow for Nolo to have her little boy and my little boy (her usual charge) together, it would all be a bit lovey-dovey.

I was gripped by how very much, how sickeningly much, we have. The size of our house, the fact that when I said to Danny to show Zuki his (Danny’s room), I knew that it is twice the size of Nolo’s entire ‘house’ (container). The fact that I was the fun one who was playing with the kids while Nolo cleaned the toilets and mopped the floor. This perpetuation of the stereotype of the white ‘baas’ and the black ‘worker’. Every thought that I had about how much Zuki would enjoy the various things that we have on offer here, was counterbalanced by the realisation that we have so very much, and that perhaps, instead of having the desired affect of making Zuki happy, it would make him sad for all that he didn’t have. Danny with his dozens of toy cars, and Zuki mesmerised by just one. It made me want to pack them all in a bag for him, but then again made me shudder at the thought of giving this beautiful, proud child the impression that he was a charity case.

I am probably overthinking this, but wow, especially in the run up to Christmas and all the mindless overspending that goes with it, it has made me stop and consider how much we take for granted and how very, very much I have to be grateful for.

And I hope that for Zukhanye the fact that he is with his mum at long last is good enough for him, and more than makes up for any lack of toys, trampolines, books etc. I’m sure it does.