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Beth Sonnenberg, LCSW
Does Your Facebook Feed have you in a frenzy? Onslaught of Emails have you Enraged?
Here are 5 tips to help you manage the Information Overload
Its 3:30 am and I have just gone to the bathroom as I always do at that time. I’m thinking about my day tomorrow if I set up playdates for my kids, what I am going pack them for lunch, if I ever gave money to school fundraiser and group birthday gift, how many clients are coming in to meet with me so I click over to my calendar and then can’t help but get sucked into my Facebook feed. 15 different friends selling me eye cream from Rodan and Fields or Beauty Counter, 10 different friends asking me for money for various forms of cancer research that they are going to raise money for by running, spinning on walking and 5 different friends on far away vacations at fabulous resorts. I click over to my Instagram—not much better-lots of food that’s too fattening to eat, beautiful clothes too expensive to buy and fabulous houses and décor that my house will never come close to looking like.
Then I click on my email, a school form that I need to sign and print out because the school has gone green, which really means that I need to hand in the same piece of paper but that I’ve paid for the paper and the ink. Many spring sports schedules of practices and games that are coming up that week and an email asking for a contribution for a group gift for the coach from the winter sports that has just finished. This is all very overwhelming! Parenting is hard enough, but with increased access to EVERYTHING it’s almost too much to bear. The boundaries have been blurred between school, work, commerce and pleasure having everything in one place and constant easy access.
Just like every parenting expert teaches us that we need to set boundaries and rules for our kids on social media and texting and emailing, the same is true for us parents. We as parents need to set a good example for our kids to follow and be mindful how we are using technology.
1---Set aside a specific time to respond to emails and texts. Block out a half hours block in the beginning, middle and at the end of the day. Sit with your checkbook, credit card and Venmo so you can be ready to give money and record what you are giving money to. Have your calendar handy so you can record what upcoming dates you’re are committing to and make a list of what you’ve done so you don’t need to retrace your steps later.
If you respond to everything as soon as you get it you might forget that you responded, not respond appropriately and not really be paying attention. How many times have you responded to an email or text in the carpool line or while you are getting your kids ready for school and then look back on it and wish you responded differently?
2---Don’t feel the need to say yes to everything because you feel guilty saying no.
Many people ask things of us via technology (text, email, social media), that they would definitely not ask of us in person. This is because the lines of communication are way to open when using these technology methods of communication and people, some barely acquaintances and certainly not close friends, might ask things of you that they wouldn’t ask in person or even over the phone. Saying yes to charity invites, donating money to Go Fund Me pages, buying Girl Scout cookies, picking up your friends kids. The list goes on and on… Ask yourself if it is something you really feel you need to do and if you would be doing it if it wasn’t asked over text or email. Remember-it is just as easy to say no in return without having to face the person making the request.
3---Keep the social media posts in perspective.
Just as we tell our kids that posts are just a small snapshot of someone life, we need to remember this as well. People only post the best most positive things on social media, it is basically virtual bragging. Remember that you don’t see all the other stuff that goes on behind closed. Resist the urge to compare yourself, your family and your marriage, etc.- the husband that confesses his undying love for his wife or surprises her with a romantic getaway might look like husband of the year on Facebook but in reality those actions may just as well have been to make up for some other bad behavior that we don’t know about and they certainly did not post about. Maybe your friend’s new amazing purchase put her in major debt? We often only see one side of things from social media posts.
4---Keep your emotions out of your social media and email/text exchanges.
If someone says something to anger you, commenting on a Facebook thread is not the forum. Additionally, if you are upset with someone, you should talk to them face-to-face or at least have a discussion with them over the phone. It is too difficult to tell a person’s tone from the written word and misunderstandings often occur, making the situation worse, not better. You will make much better progress and save yourself precious time by picking up the phone or meeting in person. I am confident that we can all relate to an instance of avoidable misunderstandings and hurt feelings in our lives due to incorrectly inferring a friend’s or relative’s tone over text and email.
Don’t let your phone interfere with your fun. We have all become addicted to our social media feeds and become too busy looking at what everyone else is doing rather than being in the moment. Make sure your meals are phone free, try to limit use on vacation and be present with your family. You can always look at your feeds, snaps and emails later, but can never get the time back you spend with loved ones making your own snap worthy memories.
It’s a lot to keep all of this in mind but the sooner you start adopting these guidelines for setting limits and boundaries, the sooner the you can start feeling that your email, texts and social media posts, benefit and enhance your life, rather than drain your emotions and deflect attention away from your family. I have already prepared to charge my phone downstairs away from my night table so I’m not tempted to look at it the next time I go to the bathroom at 3:30 am. My kindle on the other hand is still next to my bed.
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As posted in Lulu & Lattes, 2015
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It is widely known that the key to a good relationship is good communication but who has time for that? It’s so much easier to text your husband/wife the second a thought pops into your head when you are stopped at a red light then it is to make time to talk face to face. But that is exactly what you have to do in order to have a good marriage-make time to talk. And here’s how…..
Think of your relationship like a fancy hotel.
Wake up call-
First you get a wake up call. The alarm goes off to signal the start of your day or your child crawls into bed with you at 5 am. Whether one or both of you are getting up, I recommend keeping morning communication to a minimum. There is a lot to do to get yourself and your family ready for the day so a few quick sentences about what you have planned for each of your days is best. It is too busy and stressful at this time to have any lengthy or tough conversations if you have any at all. Now is not the time to discuss the huge am ex bill that just arrived or whose family you’re going to be with for the holidays.
3 pm Check-in time
Just like checking into a hotel, the late afternoon is a great time to call each other to talk about how your day is going. What you have done so far and what you have planned for the night. What time you are planning on coming home from work, thoughts about what to have for dinner, the kids after school schedule on opposite sides of town and any homework or tests that the kids have for the night that one of you is sure to be up late helping with.
When you go to a nice restaurant, they usually call earlier to confirm your reservation. Checking in your way home from work at night is a great way to confirm the dinner plan at home so whoever is home first can plan accordingly. It’s like honoring the reservation you made. Once everyone is home you all should sit down together even if the kids or other spouse have already eaten. The whole family should sit down together to discuss their day (without any iphones, ipads or iCarly on) even if it is just for 10 minutes. This is the perfect time to give the kids some dessert or fruit and have family time where everyone catches each other up on their day.
10/11 pm Turn down Service-
The hotel staff usually comes in to prepare your room at bedtime. Once dinner is cleaned up and the kids are in their beds, it is time to sit or lay down and talk face to face. Share stores about your kids, good and bad things going on at the office, worries and fears, plans for the weekend and other thoughts. It is important to connect before going to bed. (Connecting through sex is great too, but that’s another article-stay tuned).
Other times to talk face to face-
Sometimes the weekend is so busy with sports, parties and activities that it might be even harder to find time to talk with your spouse. Many Saturday nights might be booked with social plans with other couples and parties. I recommend going an hour early to a restaurant or event with your spouse to sit at the bar and talk before the other people you are meeting get there.
If you don’t have sat night plans, make some. It is very important to put efforts into getting dressed, looking nice for each other and getting out of your house for date. Saying that you don’t have a sitter, cant leave your kids, cant afford it are all just excuses. Your marriage needs to be a priority. You and your husband are the foundation of your family. If you are happy and connected then everyone else will be too.
Nowadays hotels will make you fill out a survey to give you feedback about your stay. You and your spouse should do the same. Tell each other things you liked that they did and didn’t do. Positive feedback is always great to hear-like “I loved when you told me I looked pretty last night” and not “I like those boots, where did you get them and how much were they?” If you have a complaint, you should voice it as well-for example “I wish you could be more helpful putting the kids to bed.” The feedback you give one another should be about a behavior that is changeable and not a characteristic about your husband/wife. Harboring resentment about each other’s actions leads to anger that can grow and later lead to more problematic behavior-like meeting someone else at a hotel.
Remember the hotel room is for keeping your marriage on track. Good luck and enjoy your stay.
Beth Sonnenberg, LCSW is a psychotherapist in private practice in Livingston, NJ.