I’m a list maker. There are few things I love more than writing to-do lists on light purple legal pads and highlighting the items in yellow once they are completed. Throw in a gel pen or a fine tipped flair pen, and I’m swooning. I also have a very deep and somewhat strange attachment to my monthly planner. It’s the one item that when I find myself without, I feel completely lost. I would venture to say that for most women, moms in particular, writing things down is just a given. How else are we supposed to remember the ins and outs of multiple children along with all of our other responsibilities? We are organized because we have to be.
As my oldest went through most of his earliest school years, my organization system worked flawlessly. The information I needed would come home in his folder every day and I would sign what I needed to, put money in when I needed to, or write down the future date of whatever event was coming. Those brightly colored papers were easy to see, easy to sign, and easy to send back. Check, check, done…mom of the year.
Over time, as the popularity of apps began to grow, my organization skills slowly began to disappear.
App after app, email after email, notification after notification, and message after message, I found myself drowning more each and every day. And at the start of this school year, my feet were firmly planted…on the ocean floor. I waved the white flag of surrender. I could no longer keep up with the ‘on demand’ lifestyle our society has officially adopted.
There are two types of people in the world when it comes to technology: There are those like my husband who have and keep an inbox of maybe 15 messages (all read and responded to) and then, there are those like me, who currently have 14,570 messages in my inbox and approximately 37 of them are really important. The other 14,500 are from stores where I signed up to get 20% off my first purchase (IYKYK). I know the solution is to delete them as they come in, but y’all, have you ever put your phone away for two hours to like…I don’t know…to put your kids to bed, work your job, watch a movie? Whatever it is you are doing for those two hours has MAJOR consequences because when you pick up that phone again YOU HAVE MISSED 314 THINGS.
I don’t feel like I’m technically any busier than my mom was back in the ’80s raising my brother and me, but I think having the world at our fingertips puts an insane amount of pressure on us that wasn’t there 40 years ago. Imagine being out for dinner or at your child’s game and somebody calls you, but you are completely unaware until you get home and listen to the message on your answering machine. What if the school let us know something only by sending it home on Fridays in the form of a paper (gasp!) that we have all weekend to read and sign and return on Monday? What would it be like to not know every second of your child’s school day until they get in the car and tell you about it? How about being blissfully unaware of your child’s grades until the report card is sent home?
Certainly, there are advantages to all the things we can do and know with technology, but I would argue that there are major disadvantages as well. The largest one being our mental health. The anxiety I have had recently when I finish a workday and see 43 missed texts, 17 Group Me notifications, five Parent Square notifications, three Aspen notifications, 87 new emails, one Venmo request and a partridge in a pear tree is enough to make me throw my hands up and feel like a failure. I remind myself daily to let go of the notion that I have to respond to all of those things immediately. It’s impossible. I have to tell myself that my friends will still love me even if I miss a few texts, my kids’ school will still find me a good mother even if I don’t respond or “like” everything they send, my high schooler will still graduate even if I don’t see every single grade he has in a nine-week period, and that the Venmo request will eventually turn into a phone call if they need their money badly enough.