Perhaps it’s just the time of year, but I have spent the last couple of weeks doing a cleanup of my online life. Whether it’s my social media apps, or the overstuffed mess that is my Google Drive, it was time for some tidying up. By the time I got around to Infinite Justin I had already gone all Marie Kondo to dozens of half-written blog posts, short stories and asides. I also took the time to reread what was up on the site and, well, didn’t feel too bad giving myself the big red “x” and starting over.
If having a baby has taught me one thing (other than how to change a diaper without getting peed on) it’s that time is a finite resource. A couple of years ago my wife and I could both work our jobs, go to the gym, go on a dinner and movie date, come home, and still have plenty of time to ourselves. Being a parent means even going to the grocery store requires a logistics meeting. I used to really enjoy playing video games, but now I have to really consider the value of that activity when its competing with things like reading, taking a shower, making sure the kitchen is clean before bed, or sleep itself. My partner and I have been on a couple of dates since the baby was born, but all too often these days we tend to just order food from Grub Hub and spend nights on the couch.
In the last week I’ve done massive purges of my Twitter, Instagram, and Podcast feeds. While I know their would probably be real value in deleting these services all-together, I know that taking those kinds of drastic actions would lead to a relapse, and I’m trying to get out of the fast results game, into the slow and steady wins the race game. Still it has been a shock going from having 40+ podcasts on my podcast app to five. Cleaning up my Instagram and Twitter feeds has meant I’ve looked at both services less, but there is still some work I need to do to break myself of the habit of checking them mindlessly.
I’ve started to take my morning and nightly rituals a lot more seriously. Things like being in bed by a certain time so I can be functional the next morning has proven to be more important than watching a movie, or playing a video game, or seeing who wins the late NBA game. If I can get to bed at a decent time, and read 20 pages of a book, I’ve felt like that night was a success. I’m still struggling with keeping the iPad out of the bedroom. For some reason I still enjoy watching other people play video games on Twitch. It has for years been the thing I would do before going to sleep. It’s a dumb habit that is even worse now that we have a baby in the room, who just loves to play with an iPad. I’m getting better at reducing screen time at night, but I’m still not where I’d like to be.
Mornings are still a bear for me, and I’m not sure I’ll ever get to the point where I’d consider myself a “morning person.” I’ve worked some version of a night shift my entire life. My entire family on my fathers side are night owls. No matter how many motivational Youtube videos I watch of successful people who wake up before 5 AM, I will just never feel motivated to be up before the sun is up. Right now I’m trying to make 6 AM as wake-up time livable. I’ve found that if I can get up, get my coffee made, check the news, and have a small breakfast before things get to crazy with the kiddo, I am fairly happy in the morning. Of course if I’ve screwed up the night before, it kind of sets me up for failure the next day.
I know a lot of this is pretty basic stuff that we all were told as kids. The whole make your bed, clean up your room, and brush your teeth twice a day bit. I think what’s important about all of these little routines that many of us fall out of somewhere between adolescence and adulthood, is that small wins build up to healthy, manageable lifestyles. Having a clean kitchen to wake up to Monday morning means there’s a better chance I’m going to make coffee and breakfast, which means having a better chance of starting the week off right. Having a fridge full of healthy foods means not resorting to a bag of chips when the baby is having a bad day and all you want to do is scarf down some calories.
Having a child is the ultimate refresher course in doing the small the things that make for a happy life. You start to question the things consume, and the actions you take on a daily basis. I think the knowledge that you are going to have to teach this small human how to live, really makes you reassess the life you want to live. I’m starting to realize how much better my life can be with less social media, and more emphasis put into the small activities that make for a happier life: spending time with family, cooking, getting out of the house, reading, being creative, and taking in as much art as I can. I think if I had to name one goal for the rest of this year, and to carry on as long as I possibly can, it would be to minimize the things in life that do not truly matter, and embrace those things in life that may be difficult, but sustain us.