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What would you chose?

If you had just four weeks left before you had to leave friends forever how would you chose to spend your time with them?

For quite some time now a friend and  I have been visiting an elderly gentleman once a week. We began it as part of a project with age action, which means we visit someone who is living alone. I say ‘we began it’ , because initially we began it in order to bring company to someone who needs it, it has become so much more than that to us.

Each Thursday as we sit with our ‘friend’ I cannot begin to tell you the fun we have. This man is a tall, fit man, with a mop of white hair, and deep brown eyes. He has the most beautiful soft kerry, sing song Irish accent, and a bold smile that spreads to his eyes, which twinkle with mischief.  However age is beginning to take it’s toll and our friends eyes are failing, rendering him almost blind, and his gait is unsteady at times. His family live in England, and as I wrote before here, the decision has been made for him to sell up his house and home, leave the country he loves and move to a new life alongside his son.

Last week as we called by as usual, he broke the news to us  that he would be gone in five weeks. Four more visits. We knew this day was coming but it still came as a shock. As he told me the news his eyes filled up, words failed him and he just stood there, looking every day of his eighty one years. When he did speak he said, ‘I’m broken’. Then as always he rallied, looked at me, shook his head and sighed saying, ‘Ah that’s life I suppose, but I am going to miss this great country’.

A week has passed and the news has sunk in. On one level he is still heartbroken, but there is also a part of him now looking forward to spending gougane barra, Old agetime with his family, who are obviously very fond of him. So with time limited my friend and I had been talking together. We had decided to offer to take him on a day trip, to someplace that meant a lot to him. To give him the chance to return there, for what would surely be one last time. We were looking forward to suggesting it to him, and the prospect of sharing the day with him.

So today we told him of our wonderful idea and his reaction was not what we expected. Firstly he felt it would be too much of a bother to us, but having assured him otherwise he was quiet. I asked him what he was thinking, and in my mind I was wondering was he thinking of all the places he would like to return to. I was wrong. He looked up at me and said, ‘I cannot imagine having as much fun anywhere else as we do just sitting here’. I was taken aback. We tried to convince him otherwise but he was not for changing. We stayed chatting as always, but as we did I began to look at our time together through his eyes. I sat back and listened enthralled by another of his wonderful stories, and I watched his face change as he broke into a hearty laugh at something I was saying. The conversation never lulled, not even for a moment. He was really alive and animated, greatly enjoying the craic, and I understood his decision.

Eventually it was time for us to go. As usual our friend walked us out the path to the gate. Patiently he waited for us to turn our cars, and with a smile he waved us off, shouting ‘Bye now, love ye’. As I drove away I thought, only three more weeks. Tonight as I write this I think to myself selfishly, how happy I am that he chose not to go anywhere, for I only want to sit with him in his comfy front room, listening to his stories, and laughing together for as long as we possibly can. Until the day when we wave him goodbye and shout after him, ‘love ye’.

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I hate technology.

It is a little over a week ago since my laptop became ill. It was not anything terminal, but it did require treatment from a professional. Reluctantly I handed it over, and within an hour I had begun to itch.

Oh the posts I would be writing if I had it. I seemed to see ideas for posts everywhere. I tried to keep myself occupied, and with a busy bank holiday weekend here in Ireland luckily I didn’t have too many idle hours.

However today is Tuesday and I am still not up and running. I feel like I now need the equivalent of a methadone supplement in order to calm my nerves. My fingers are itching, and my thoughts keep returning to all I could be writing and reading.lost phone

So this evening I decided enough, I would have to try to type up a post on my phone. I sat down for a time to think of what subject I would like to write about, and eventually decided on a topic. Great, now where was my phone?

Slightly fed up I looked in all the usual haunts, my pocket, my coat, down the arm of the couch, upstairs, downstairs, out in the car. No sign of it, I’d have to ring it. Now where is the house phone? Yes you guessed it I once again tried all the usual haunts and after some time I found it, but on dialing my phone there was no comforting ring or vibration to be heard. It must be on silent. FECK.

By now the post in my head was changing. It was no longer a lovely post about the passing of time and the life I had lived. No, it had definitely changed tone and now featured such phrases as ‘feckin technology’, and wonderings such as ‘what use is bloody technology anyway’, along with ‘there is a lot to be said for pen and feckin paper’, and ‘life was simpler in times gone by’. Eventually after close on half an hour of what had become a frenzied search I gave in , in a temper. Tonight once again there would be no blogging, no writing. I could have screamed.

Taking a deep breath I decided to switch off even thinking about technology and social media, and resigned myself to another blog free night. My girls and I sat down to ‘girls night’. A night once a week where we sit and watch the series of Friends together pigging out on rubbish at the same time. I have kept up the tradition since beginning it with my first daughter over ten years ago and it has not lost any of it’s appeal. By the time we had enjoyed the homecoming of Ross from a quick trip to China, with a new girlfriend in tow, much to Rachel’s horror, I was a whole lot calmer.

In good form I kissed my youngest Goodnight. As she dissapeared upstairs I heard her shout, ‘Mom your phone is here on the banister’. By the time I ran up the stairs I was back thinking of the night ahead. Maybe I would post something I thought as I took my phone off my daughter.

To discover it was out of battery. Hopes were built up and dashed all in a moment. I felt alcohol calling me!

However such was my obvious dismay that my husband produced his work laptop, which was thankfully not at work. I opened it up, and off I went. Not exactly the post I intended to write all those hours ago, but a post, and writing none the less.

Now where’s my wine?

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What time is it?

The clocks in Ireland went back one hour last night. Today as I look at the different times on the clocks in my house I feel somewhat confused. Which reminds me of something that happened a friend of mine many years ago.

We were student nurses at the time, on night duty. My friend was the eldest of two children, with a younger brother who had begun to be a somewhat challenging teenager. Many nights we met at break where she entertained us by sharing his latest escapade.

One weekend her parents were invited to a family wedding ‘down the country’, which would mean an overnight stay. They had been looking forward to it for a long time, however as the day approached they became increasingly nervous. Their sons bad behaviour was giving them serious cause for concern and they were nervous about going away for a full day and night. However with a lot of reassurance from my friend they decided to risk it.

The wedding was on a Saturday, and my friend had booked the night off. However she was working on the Friday night. Returning from work early Saturday morning she decided to stay up to see her parents off, and to be around to keep an eye on her brother. Her parents eventually left somewhat reluctantly, with my friend reassuring them that she could manage her brother with no problems.

As the hours passed by, the week of night duty began to take it’s toll. My friend tried to do some housework in order to stay awake, but she was exhausted. It was 3pm when her brother and his friend came to her to ask if it was okay for him to go to his friends house down the road. He assured her he would be home by 7 o clock. She agreed and off they went. Alone in the house tiredness overwhelmed her, so she decided to go to bed for a credit: <a href="">jamelah</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

She was woken by the loud ringing of the telephone in the hall downstairs. Bewildered and confused she got up to answer it. The house was in complete darkness.

‘Hello?’, she answered, her mouth dry.

‘Is Darren there?’, a womans voice shouted.

‘Darren?’, she answered confused, ‘Who is Darren?’.

‘Daren, my son’, shouted the voice. ‘You are Stephen’s sister aren’t you? I thought you were keeping an eye on them’.

‘Oh yes’, she said, as slowly she began to recall the events of the day. ‘Emm, they went out’.

‘Out?’, shouted the voice, Out where? When?’.

As my friend looked around the dark hall she remembered her brothers promise to be home by 7pm.

‘They said they’d be home by 7′ she announced in what she hoped was a confident tone.

‘7’ shouted the voice once more, ‘7, do you know what time it is now?

‘No’ replied my friend, confusion overcoming her once more. As she looked around the dark empty house she said to the angry voice,

‘Sorry, but do you mind if I ask you, is it day or night?’.

There was silence on the phone and eventually the voice said, ‘And you are the one supposed to be looking after your brother’.

The phone went dead.

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The ugly truth of parenting.

Are you a parent of teenagers? Do you tell others the truth about your teen or do you give a watered down version of life in your home? Are you struggling?teenagers

I remember before ever having children how sure I was what type of parent I was going to be. It was not overly disimilar to ‘little house on the prairie’, with a modern twist of course. Then I became a parent and my dreams fell apart. My babies cried much more than I could have ever imagined. Breast feeding was not as ‘natural’  as I believed it would be, even though I had imagined it might be difficult.  Then there were the many combined years of sleep deprivation. By the time my children begin school I did not recognise myself, compared to the parent I dreamed I might be.

Yet for all I struggled in those early days of parenting I knew all of what was happening was normal. Many many other mothers were on hand with advice. They were eager to listen and to acknowledge how very hard parenting young children can be. They smiled knowing smiles as we asked our questions, and we were constantly assured that this time would pass. How eagerly we looked forward to that day.

But it was all a lie.

They never told us there was more. That small children mean small problems. That parenting teenagers is a whole new skill and that our parenting never ends even when our children reach twenty one.

As the years have gone by and I have struggled with various issues around parenting teenagers I have always wondered why the silence?  Where are all the helpful mothers gone? Where is the advice, the camaraderie, the sharing of experiences?

No one wants to admit their fears to others. Only close friends are privy to what is really going on and even then not all of us share honestly. Who wants to share that their underage child came in drunk, that they worry about their children’s friends,or lack of friends, that their child’s behaviour is out of control, that their child has overwhelming anxiety, or has anger management issues, is failing at school, or working too hard, self harming, not eating or over eating?

These are normal everyday issues which effect every parent of older children at some time. Yet no one admits it. Because it is kept quiet parents struggle alone. There is no sharing of advice, and life can be exhausting.

Maybe in time this will change. Maybe social media will help parents of older children find their voices. Perhaps the cloak of silence will some day be lifted.lonely mother

Until that happens I wanted to let my voice be heard. Parenting is a job for life. Our children are growing up, spreading their wings and making their own decisions. Sadly at times they get things very wrong. All we can do is hang in there and do our best. It is okay to feel mad, to feel weary, to feel anger, and despair.

Remember you are not alone. It is easy to see parenting as that cute photo of a mother with her new born baby, no one wants to look at a photo of a mother with an angry drinking/smoking teenager. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

So today I just wanted to give a shout out to the many many parents who are silently parenting teenagers and older children of all ages. Those of you who are struggling with big children with big problems. I wish you well. Maybe someday you will find your voices and when you do you will understand you are a good parent.

Most of all I would wish you to know you are not alone.

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Do you want to be a better writer?

Have you ever signed up to something and later regretted it? Have you a dream but keep making excuses not to pursue it?

Since I began this blog eighteen months ago I have discovered just how much I enjoy writing. I have written about all sorts of everything, stories from my past, moments from my day, thoughts that were buzzing around my head. However at times I have wondered. Was I a blogger or a writer? Was there a difference? small__5188097200

In recent times I’ve had a niggling thought, as annoying as a tickly cough. There was no getting rid of it. I wanted to learn about writing. Or did I? Because in truth, as soon as I had that one thought, I quickly replaced it with every reason I could think of for not pursuing it.

Last week I received an email from Fish publishing advertising online writing courses. Oh my goodness, maybe fate was intervening? I opened the link and became immersed in ‘maybe’. Looking through the link I particularly liked the idea of short story writing, which had been the foremost niggle in my head over the past few months. However as I began to read more, I decided it was not for me and I quickly ‘X’ed my way off the site.

Twenty four hours later I couldn’t help myself opening the link once more. Once again I allowed myself to imagine being a part of that course. Learning, reading, writing, being challenged. I began to feel a bit braver. Why not? So what if it was too high brow for me, surely I’d learn something? Then I imagined how I’d feel if in fact it was full, or if I was too late applying. Would I be disappointed? Yes, I definitely would. So without any further hesitation I clicked ‘enrollment/fees’ and with a couple more clicks I’d spent quite a bit of money and I was in.

I sat back and felt a wash of satisfaction sweep over me. I was delighted. At last I was doing something, not wondering or doubting myself. I could do this. I would make the time. In no time at all I had built up my own confidence to such a level that I even told a couple of my children what I had done. One was full of praise, the other, who is studying in school and is not overly partial to English, looked at me in pity and said, ‘What would you ever want to do that for?’ I smiled, my confidence not dented in any way, then she added, ‘You freak’. Don’t you just love children?

Before I had time to defend myself an email arrived. My ‘teacher’ was getting in touch. I nearly burst. This was real. I quickly opened the email and read it’s contents. Within minutes all confidence had died. Deflated I thought to myself, ‘Sweet Jesus, what was I thinking?’. It is nearly thirty years since I sat an English exam. There’s no fool like an old fool. I looked at the suggested reading list, it was long. I looked at the first module and I felt out of my depth. I couldn’t even figure out what exactly the assignment was, surely that was a very bad start? My ‘teacher’ had stated to be sure and drop a line if I have any queries. Asking her what my first assignment was, was definitely not going to be a good start. So, you may ask, what did I do?

I quickly ‘X’ed out of the email, took a deep breath and poured myself a glass of wine.small__7658051014

After a short while I was once more drawn to my laptop. I opened the email and read, re read, and yes read again, the email I’d received. Maybe it was the wine, but now I could understand it better. I was getting a bit excited about it all. Yes I could do this, and yes I would enjoy it.

Now a few days later I have managed to train myself to feel those positive thoughts, without the wine. I have, you guessed it, re read my assignment a few more times. I have downloaded a couple of books from the suggested reading list and I’ve read what I have for ‘homework’. I’ve not actually written anything yet, but I’m further along than I was this day last week.

So I will keep you all posted. I have no idea how to even present my ‘homework’. There are words I have had to google, and I’ve to learn about ‘pacing’, which I assume is not what I teach my competitive swimmers! God help my poor ‘teacher’. I can only imagine her reaction to my first attempt, but we all must start somewhere, and I am hoping against hope that she is a long time in this game and therefore has come across worse.

Yes it seemed a good idea at the time. Now I’ve blogged about it, not to mention paid for it, there is no going back.

Help me, I’m very thirsty all of a sudden. Where’s my wine?

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we all need a good sleep

Do you nap?

Do you power nap? Are you someone who can close your eyes for ten minutes and wake up completely refreshed? Or are you an all or nothing sleeper,  someone who must go to bed and sleep, unable to imagine waking after just ten minutes?
Personally I am a power napper, but it is my husbands ‘naps’ which in our house are a constant source of amusement.

In our early days together I should have taken note. Here was a man who regularly went to the cinema and never made it past the titles. As we continued through life children came along. God love him this time in our lives nearly killed him altogether.

However in recent years we have no crying children, and as far as I have noticed he manages to sleep a reasonable amount by night, yet the napping continues unabated.

Recently we were away for the weekend, just the two of us. Our flight was very early which meant a four thirty start. By the time we had landed and were on the train sitting comfortably in a nice warm, carriage, I observed the familiar drooping of his eyes as he sat opposite me. I knew it would not be long before I lost him, so I decided to have a little fun.

As we entered a tunnel, I began to speak knowing he was too exhausted to listen. He sat upright feigning interest, and I smiled inwardly as I saw his eyelids close over, only to open suddenlysleep with a start every few minutes. Each time he opened his eyes he struggled to focus, staring in my direction with a glazed expression. Straight faced I’d ask him questions such as ‘Do you agree?’, or ‘What do you think?’. Puzzled he’d look at me and slowly answer my made up questions with a very weary ‘Ehhh, ye’, or ‘Mmmm, I’m not sure’. As we entered a tunnel I knew he was losing the battle. I watched as he raised his eyebrows when I would speak to him, as if this would pull his eyes open. Sometimes he would answer, but his eyes were now glued tight. Realising my fun was over I let him sleep.

The ticket inspector entered the train carriage. I looked at my poor, exhausted, sleeping husband, and felt bad because our train tickets were in his pocket. I’d have to wake him. I waited as long as I could then gently woke him, asking for our tickets. It took a while for him to return from the land of nod, but eventually he did and handed over the tickets.

As the inspector walked away my husband looked at me and smiled. ‘Sorry I was exhausted, he said. ‘I feel much better now, I really needed that sleep’.

We were still in the tunnel!

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Living in the past.

I am finding it impossible to write. My block is not because I’m too busy, nor because I have no ideas to put on paper. It is because my thoughts are elsewhere.

This weekend last year Daniel came home for the fist time since leaving four months earlier for a bone marrow transplant . There was much excitment around his return. And there was hope. If he was strong enough to travel home it must be a good sign. Maybe that infamous corner was about to be turned? Maybe it was the start of weekends at home? Maybe eventually there would come a time when he would travel to Dublin just for dialysis? Maybe the day was coming when Daniel would be cured?

The reality was very different. The young boy who came home was not the boy who had left. Seeing him in his home environment showed us, not how well he was getting, but how sick he was, and the long hard climb ahead of him.

Daniels anniversary is on the 29th of November. Six weeks away. It is so difficult not to spend each day remembering. Remembering, ‘this day last year’. I cannot imagine how it is for his parents, siblings and family.

For over the next few weeks Daniel suffered a lot of pain. During that time all efforts went into curing him, at a cost. During that time on two occasions Daniel was ventilated. There was a real chance he would die miles from home, in ICU and on a ventilator. There were occasions when we cried imagining his parents never again hearing him speak, imagining that last goodbye.

I cannot even begin to tell you of all those awful days, as they were too many to speak of. Watching from a distance I often felt sick with fear. I cried so many tears alone and in company. Even now a year later I cannot forget. I cannot forget those conversations I had with my friends, Daniels family, about things we should only be saying, if we were speaking about an elderly grandparent. Those next six weeks were a nightmare, a nightmare which keeps flashing back into my everyday life.

I know it will pass. I also know it is nothing compared to Dans families nightmare.

So over the next few weeks stick with me please. If I repost an old fun post maybe it’s because I’m just having a bad day. Maybe now I’ve spoken my mind I will be able to write again. However I’m not sure. Daniel is gone and yet I seem to find memories of him everywhere, from his smiling face in photos, to the nightmare flashbacks from last year. The memory of Daniels pain and suffering, and the knowledge that it was all for nothing is sometimes just too much. The only positive in the weeks ahead was Daniel being ‘well’ enough to travel home. Well enough to know he was home, and to have a full day there before he began to leave peacefully, with all who loved him beside him.

Yes my friends even after one year it is all as raw and as real as if it were yesterday. And I cannot forget.

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Young Ben we salute you.

A year ago today a heartbroken mother and father kissed their small boy goodbye forever. He was six years old. A year ago today other mothers and fathers kissed their sick children goodbye. Hours later these children returned to their parents, having received young Bens organs.  No longer sick. With ben on holsthe potential of a long and healthy life ahead of them. All because of a small boy aged six.

No doubt it has been a very hard year for Ben’s family, and friends. The beginning of a life sentence. However, today I would like to raise a cheer for young Ben. His life mattered hugely to his mom and dad, sister, friends and family. It may have been short but it was filled with fun. He was a much loved young boy, and will be forever in his families life, even in absence. Today, as his family grieve and remember, there are others who are dearly loved, running about, laughing, and living. Within them a part of Ben lives on.  I hope whoever they are and where ever they are, that today they have a really good day. I hope their family and friends take some time out today, to pause and remember, a small boy aged six, who changed their lives forever.

In honour of young Ben, and to celebrate his life, I would like to once again share this video, and urge you to buy it. As anyone who reads my blog will know it was made earlier this year and features the families who bravely gave life to others, as they hold photos of their loved one who is gone. I think it is one of the most powerful videos I’ve ever watched, even if it didn’t feature young Ben.

So today let us all raise our glasses and celebrate young Ben, the hero. I also hope that my positive thoughts, and the thoughts of all those who read this, will in some way give his family strength, today and in the future.

Codladh Sámh Ben.


What is the real reason parents sign their children up for after school activities?

Do your children do after school activities? Do you feel you are a taxi driver as you race to class and collections? Why do you bother?

I am over twenty years parenting, and in that time my children have attended  many after school activities. Ballet, art, music, football, camogie, swimming, gymnastics, Taekwan-Do, and Scouts to name but a few. All took time and money, effort and energy. While I was ferrying my children to and from these classes I filled the car with the other children. These classes took time out of their playtime, and home time out of my day.

Looking back I ask myself ‘Was it worth it?’. Did any of them become Irish or Olympic champions? Did they discover a love of music, martial arts or sport? Would I do it all again?

Thinking it through I believe that yes, if I had my time over again, I would once again sign my children up to those activities, even the ones that were disasters. Take the art class I enrolled my then seven year old daughter in. She had shown a flair for art in school, or so I thought. Looking back maybe she was just better able to control a pencil than others. Anyway one day the after school art teacher called me in to show me one of my daughters creations. It was a bowl of fruit. I was briefly surprised, that my daughter could in fact draw something I’d recognise, as I, who was many years older, had still not managed to ever draw anything that looked remotely like the picture in my imagination. As I listened to the teacher speak,  she told me that this painting showed wonderful perspective for a child so young. I smiled, looking at a bowl of childlishly drawn fruit, and nodded in agreement, while inwardly laughing at all I obviously didn’t know. I went home small_5841210855delighted to know I had a talented young daughter. Two weeks later my daughter looked at me and said, ‘I hate art’. Ten years later she has not changed her mind. Even now when I tell her she had a talent for it, she just laughs.

Then there was Scouts. My son was not interested in sports of any sort, and especially disliked ball sports. So we thought Scouts would be perfect for him. He enrolled in beavers and proudly wore his uniform. He went to the group every week, and even went camping. We were delighted. Until the day we discovered that the drills and inspection and rules were terrifying him. That he was taking everything too much to heart and was unable to relax and enjoy it. Another year of activities put to bed.

Then there were the sporting activities. These meant not only did we have to attend lessons, we also had to spend weekends involved in competitions. Whole days of our lives we will never get back, watching children compete in gymnastics. We even travelled 200km to Belfast for our daughters to compete in a National Trampolining competition. This involved twelve bounces. Can you imagine driving that distance and staying overnight, for a total of 48 bounces on a trampoline! Such is the madness of a parent whose children are involved in any type of after school activity. I was not there for the glory of winning, but because my children loved it, qualified and wanted to go. I don’t believe I was the only one.

However the greatest madness of all, in my opinion, are the parents of children involved in competitive swimming. I feel I am perfectly qualified to speak about these parents being one myself. I am also the coach to these swimmers so I am able to look at both sides of this particular coin. These parents get up at 5am. They bring children to the pool for a ninety minute swim session, and drive them home to breakfast or for some straight to school. The vast majority of these swimmers will never make the national team, nor indeed make division one. It is commitment of the highest order. These young swimmers, in the majority, swim because they enjoy it, and are challenged by it, and parents bring them to the pool knowing that.

Last Sunday morning at 6.30am,  my fellow coaches and I boarded a bus for a town two hours away, with forty swimmers on board. Others chose to travel by car. It is at these events that I begin to clearly see what swimming gives to these young swimmers. Last Sunday I watched a few of our young swimmers overwhelmed by nerves, cry . After a few gentle words I watched those same young swimmers line up for their races, biting fingernails, and fidgeting as they did so. I then smiled as these same swimmers dived in and swam their hearts out. I celebrated with the other coaches when we watched them finish and saw the huge smiles of achievement on their faces. This was a lesson in life they could not learn in school. Other lessons were also learned that day. Such as the swimmers whose goggles fell off on the dive, yet they swam on at full pace regardless, showing a strength of character some parents did not know their child possessed. Towards the end of photo credit: <a href="">C-Serpents</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>the day we had a lot of weary swimmers. The 5.30am rise was showing. Yet, when their moment came, they raced as if they were fresh. Once again demonstrating their ability to dig deep and tap into courage and strength of mind they may never before have used.

As we drove home that night I remember thinking that in years to come these same young swimmers will probably forget most of what the day brought. However, I think they will remember the friends they spent the day with, and the many lessons swimming that day taught them.

This, to my mind, is what parents are looking for when they sign up a child for after school activities. It begins with the hope that their child may be talented at this activity, but for the majority it becomes an activity their child enjoys, and hopefully one which will enhance their lives in so many ways, without necessarily bringing them glory.

As I say goodbye to my early morning young swimmers in the mornings, I am always conscious of how much they have already achieved before most of their classmates are even awake. Lessons they will not learn in the classroom. Lessons that their outside school activity gives them in spades every day. Lessons that will remain with them throughout their lives. Definitely well worth the time, effort, and money the parents invested.

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So how did I get on without my smartphone? Did I crack? Did I cheat? Did I suffer any withdrawal side effects? Have we been re united?
Well to cut a long story short, I have survived and yes we have been reunited, but the experiment has definitely given me food for thought.

I first acquired my smartphone for my birthday in March. Prior to this I had been quite proud of being the owner of an ancient phone which had almost no functions at all. A phone which I used for all that a phone was meant to be for, in days gone by. Then, as it began to breathe it’s last, I decided it was time to step into the real world. I thought it would be useful to be able to keep an eye on comments and visitors to my blog, to never miss an email, and to have easier access to facebook etc. I would mean I could just check into wordpress without actually sitting down and formally going online on my laptop. It sounded ideal.

So it was for a while. I did enjoy the way I could see if my blog was getting comments, and I enjoyed being able to tap into twitter or facebook if I was waiting for one of my children to come out of a class, or sitting alone somewhere. Knowing I had emails to answer as they arrived allowed me to plan how much time I needed to address them. Initially it was all good.

However slowly I began to feel things change. I began to take my phone everywhere. I carried it from room to room, even on the shortest car journey it came along too. I was also checking it regularly, whenever I passed it. Then one day I noticed I had it at the dinner table!

Enough I thought. So last Saturday I decided this weekend is a new beginning. I was going to ‘lose’ it. Just to see how bad my addiction was. I hadn’t thought of it in advance, it was a quick decision. I wrote a post on it here,  put my phone on silent, and waited for the side effects.small__7317967922

As it happens I had minimal side effects. On a few occasions I found myself sorely tempted. As I saw the small blue number appear next to the facebook icon I wondered who was posting? What was happening? Was I missing something exciting, or something amusing? However I held tough and resisted the temptaion to look or to interact, and it got easier as the day went on. I had time to daydream, to look around, to sit and just be.

You may think that all this sounds good, however there is an underlying deceipt in my answer. What I am not saying is that I didn’t turn off the notifications for my blog, so I could see on the screen how many ‘liked’ or commented on my post. Also this weekend was so very busy that in reality I had very little time alone, or to be tempted to go online. It wasn’t a true reflection of a normal weekend, nor did it challenge me as much as it could have.

However it was a start. I have decided this is something I will do more regularly. I did feel a great sense of liberation without my phone. A feeling of not being ‘on call’, of not having to stay in up to the minute contact with others. It also made me more attentive to the real world. To those around me. I was not distracted by an incoming text or notification of some sort. Nor did I absent myself from present company to converse with someone who was no where near me.

One aspect of being offline for the weekend which I hadn’t anticipated, was that I hesitated to get back online. I felt tired at the thought of it, at the prospect of going back to square one, to being overly interactive once more. However I have tonight bit the bullet and logged on once more, and I’m sure I’ll be interacting as before in no time. Now though I will try to follow some self imposed rules.

1. Limit my online time.
2. No conversing online when I am in company, even if it is less stimulating company!
3. Stop checking my phone so regularly.
4. Turn off facebook notifications.
5. Turn off email notifications.
6. Have time every day without my phone.
7. Take time to sit and daydream in the present.

I’d love to have made it to ten rules, but it’s a phone, there’s not that much to say about it!

So there you have it, I’m back online, blogging as before. It remains to be seen if in fact my online habits have changed. Whether I am a reformed addict or someone who quickly forgets. I wouldn’t put any bets on either way if I were you.

photo credit: BuzzFarmers via photopin cc