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I tried to write about the screen ban and ended up on a novel of a rant about our bus conversion. I wrote a thousand words defending our choices as a family, and warning my readers not to share their big dreams with small minded people. I continued to write even though I knew I was headed way off track. Or was I?

I laid in bed last night thinking about the last two weeks, and what was at the core of my feelings. Why am I so defensive? 

Comparison is the plague, ya’ll.  I’ve written about it before, I talk about it all the time, and I think about it even more. I have spent 28 years of my life comparing myself, my success, and more recently my family to other people. Most of us (myself included) have been hard-wired to measure our success by the American Dream we see on TV. We dream up these check points in life. A house by twenty five years old, and a baby by thirty. There is a difference between goals and checkpoints. Goals are healthy, and vital to growth of any kind, but checkpoints are unrealistic and inflexible. Life happens. Maybe you don’t have a house at 25 because you chose to spend a year abroad instead of taking that soul sucking job. Maybe your child was a surprise and made his/her way into this world unexpectedly at 27? Does the change in timing make it any less of a blessing? Absolutely not, but it’s impossible to do everything at once, so inevitably goals change.   

I thought I wanted a house for a solid five years. I don’t how many hours I wasted on Zillow. However, I was not willing to sacrifice our camping trips and family adventures to actually move forward with buying a home. I have student loans, and we have a young family. I knew it wasn’t the time, so we found a rental in the country, and we have made it our home. My student loans have never sat well with me, and I struggle with the idea of having more debt, even if it is “good debt” like a mortgage. If we had purchased a house because it was on our checklist, and ignored our gut feelings that conventional living isn’t for us, what would we be teaching our children? The bus idea may have never came to a head. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make one way of living the right way. The opposite is also true, just because it doesn’t work for our family does not mean it is wrong for another family. To each their own, right? I think Ben Harper says it best,

"My choice is what I choose to do,

and if I'm causing no harm,

it shouldn't bother you.

Your choice is who you choose to be,

and if you're causin' no harm,

then you're alright with me. ".

What makes this world so magical is that it takes all kinds. My point is, after two weeks without social media I’ve learned to not give a shit. I didn’t realize how much time and energy I've been spending reading someone else’s opinion of homeschooling, or Trump. Who the hell cares what John Smith from 5th grade thinks of the current news? Why am I wasting my time reading these comments? I cannot control the trolls.

Speaking of current news, I may not have been on social media, or watching TV, but I read about the horrendous high school shooting in Florida last week. I cannot imagine the hell those families are going through. Jake and I laid in bed weighing out the pros and cons of homeschooling. We talked about guns, and American’s access to assault rifles. We talked about the mental illness crisis in this country. We made a decision to home school our children. Saylor will finish the year at her current school. We will begin homeschooling next year. I can not just pray something so tragic doesn’t happen in our small town, Maine. Praying isn’t enough. If I can't count on my government to make changes it is my my responsibility as a parent to take action. I am aware home schooling isn't an option for everyone. It certainly doesn't fix the root of our country's problem, but it does drastically decrease the odds of my children being victims of a mass shooting. I kept this decision off of the internet (until now). I wasn’t interested in starting a debate with my online friends about gun control, politics, or public schooling. I’m still not interested in a debate. I don’t give a flying hoot if Sally from second grade thinks my kids may be anti-social. Alright Sally, we will keep you off of our play date list. I am aware we can't let fear control us, and I'm certainly not suggesting anyone live under a rock, but unfortunately American schools are not safe. As a stay-at-home mother, I do have the option to home school. If I can eliminate one unsafe place than I'm going to do just that. My point behind mentioning this tragedy is that I was able to better absorb the severity of the situation. I felt more. I mourned for the families involved. Arguing online desensitizes us. These children's lives turn into a political mess. We make a horrible tragedy even worse by arguing over the minor details and "what-ifs". Instead, I chose to take care of my people and myself while mentally processing the madness. 

There is so much negativity in this world, BUT there is just as much (if not more) magic. It takes equal effort to feed the negative as it does to feed the positive. It doesn’t mean that life is all ribbons and daisy’s. It means we have the power. Regardless of your current situation someone has it worse than you. Someone, somewhere, dreams of the very life you live. It’s all about perspective, people. I’ve been doing my best to catch myself when I’m dwelling on the negative. I’ve also started guiding my friends back to a positive path when they’re venting about motherhood troubles, in laws, or work. It doesn’t mean I’m not here to listen about the hard times. I allow them, and myself, a few moments. Then I kindly switch the subject, or bring up something to remind us that even this “trouble”  or “hard time” is a blessing. I do not get much mommy time with my friends. When I do have the luxury of chatting it up I want to focus on the good! Let’s talk about your new business, our bus, gardening, the new baby, healthy living, or lotion making! I choose the good. 

Without the presence  of screens or Facebook I was free to focus that mental space on my dreams, and our goals. Even 10 minutes more of focusing on our bus conversion, or April  road trip reminds me daily of what I’m grinding towards. It’s an instant stress reliever, and increase to morale. Now that I’ve seen how much I’ve gained by limiting my online presence I will never go back to my old screen habits. 

  I am a true believer that sharing experiences, opinions, and lessons with people who think differently, believe differently, eat differently, and vote differently is crucial to any persons development. I want to expand my knowledge just as much as I want my children to learn the diverse ways of the universe. I have an intense desire to see things I’ve never seen before. Other’s do not to share that passion. It’s okay if someone else has no desire to ever set foot outside of their home state. I may not understand their thinking or comfort levels, but I respect them. Likewise when someone says to me, “You know winters in Maine are cold. Your kids are going to freeze if you live on a bus. ”. I could get defensive. I could show them pictures of tiny wood stoves, and bus families in Alaska. It’s okay if they don’t understand. In fact, that is all the more reason to show them. 

When we scroll through Instagram or Facebook and see new moms with perfect bodies or homes with perfect gardens, it is hard to not compare ourselves. It’s easy to long for what they have. Every second we spend wishing our life is something different we are not enjoying the miracle  right in front of us. Looking outside of ourselves for gratification and happiness only leads to disappointment. Do the best with what you have, work hard, and most importantly love your tribe.

The kids do not know the screen ban is over (insert evil laugh here). The first few days were a true challenge of my sanity. Both Saylor and Hendrix would ask for the tablet, and look at me with puppy dog eyes when I said "no". After the puppy eyes were not successful they’d resort to crocodile tears. However, after the first two days the rest was easy as pie. In fact, our kids played together better than ever before. They occupied themselves with toys they haven’t touched since Christmas Day. There were times I was terrified of the silence. I'd check on them in Saylor’s room and find an elaborate tea party or blanket fort. Granted, my kids played together before the ban, but only for a short time before they’d be asking to bring the tablet into the fort. 

Proof reading this post I realize I’ve written another rant. Apparently, its a rant I believe is worth sharing. I still need some development in the “not caring about what other’s think” department, but I am getting there. Every day I get a little more comfortable in my own skin. I gain a little more confidence as a mother, and a wife. Every day I am working towards the goal of being a better me. The screen ban taught me that this self discovery journey is a lot easier without the outside influence of social media feeds. I’ve barely scratched the surface of what our family learned during our two weeks of being screen free, but this post is long enough.

Stay tuned for part two!

If you’ve done a screen ban, or something like it, let me know! How did it impact you, and your family? Will you implement anything from he ban permanently? I know we will! Screen free nights in the Girard household are a sure thing from now on! There will never be a television in our master bedroom, or the kid’s rooms. The kid’s tablets now have timers on them, and when the time is up, the time is up. No “if”, “ands”, or “buts” about it. 

Until next time, my friends. 

Peace and love. 

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