Enjoy the Chore, not the Decline

Scott is to close his fourth blog to reduce the the tech noise that disrupts his family:

Everyone in my house has their nose in some device, most of the time. And this is true despite all our efforts to “limit” the use of electronics. In and of itself, I suppose consuming whatever it is we are consuming is amoral or a wash, if you will. If we were all using these devices to read Shakespeare and other works of fine literature, it might be justifiable. But that’s not what we are doing.

I come home at night and as soon as I walk in the door–or as soon as I am not being bombarded by my kids–out comes my phone. To check my email. To check to see if anyone has liked or commented on my blog. To see if some argument I am involved in on someone else’s blog has taken any new turns.

I sit and read Bible stories to my kids from the Orthodox advent book we bought–and in between I am doing it again. Or I look up and Mychael is on Pinterest.

TTWHHAK will, as far as I know, stay right here, but his concerns are justified. What we’ve done is cut back on much of what drags us into the attention destroying machine that is the Internet. Months ago I canceled our Netflix subscription.

One of the best things I’ve done is to turn off all the notifications on my phone except for text messages and app updates. Now I check my email maybe once a day, and some days not at all. I also removed my Cane Caldo email account from my phone completely. That account only gets checked every couple days now.

Another thing that has helped in this regard is that I quit smoking back in August. My pattern was: Every hour, or thereabouts, to go outside, light a cigarette, and pull my phone out of my pocket. Once I stopped going outside then my phone use dropped-off dramatically. My old friends that I kept up with on Words with Friends have suffered. I play a word about once a week now.

Instead we read books, play boardgames, and listen to music. We also do a lot more chores (cooking, cleaning, fixing, etc.) together because when you’ve recovered all this time, then who cares if you get your chores done as fast as possible? You have to fill it with something. This is actually a matter of attitude–of the mind ruling the heart. I had to realize that the best thing to do is to decide to enjoy the chore because work is what the living get to do.

8 thoughts on “Enjoy the Chore, not the Decline

  1. All these things create boredom. Boredom is not a lack of something to do so much as an unwillingness to do what’s in front of you. The phone is always there to give you an excuse. The internet is always there. Before the phone it was the TV, but if you were playing outside there was no TV. Now there is TV outside. I wasn’t allowed to watch a lot of TV, but I had books, and those served the same purpose.

    Realistically, there’s always something, but creativity and productivity comes from limited options, not from the internet. The internet is boring if you don’t have something to look up. I suppose pr0nz can become a default for that reason, since you’ve got to go a long way down that road for pr0nz to become boring.

    It’s fascinating and somewhat painful watching movies from pre-smartphone and pre-internet times, trying to imagine what it was like.

  2. Any advice for a young family as to activities? We’re of the same mind, but with a 9 month and 20 month old, the chore thing doesn’t work.

  3. Chad: Nature/tree/bird walks at the park. Swings and seesaws. Even nature programs on TV if it comes to watching TV.

  4. This post is a great reminder that I have never regretted cutting timesucks out of my life and focusing on what actually needs to be done. It’s always a bit painful to do so, but once it’s become routine, life is always better.

    Regarding things to do with little ones, I agree with walks and little trips. Our memberships to the local zoo and botanical gardens have paid for themselves many times over.

    Also, don’t underestimate the way kids can hang around during chores. My 23 month has long enjoyed playing with strategically-placed safe tools or building materials while I’m working on projects. He also has his own rag placed at toddler-level for “helping” to clean up messes. Cane is correct that you have to readjust your expectations for efficiency, though.

  5. @Chad

    When they’re that young Dad’s chore enjoyment focus is Mama; how he can help her enjoy her chores: Talk to her while she’s cooking, take her for walks, put on some music and dance, etc.

    As far as the kids, roughhousing is your best bet; acting like animals, piggyback rides, “superman rides”[1], wrestling, tickling, chasing, etc.

    [1]Probably reserved for 18 months and older: Lie on your back, put your kid on the bottom of your feet, grab his hands to steady him, and raise him up so he’s “flying” on the bottom of your feet and over you. When they get a older try letting go of their hands and let them balance while you move legs around. Watch out for the drool! They can’t control it while they’re laughing.

  6. All good advice. I can’t precisely define the element of personal irony embedded in this. Scott, Cane, and others I’ve come to read regularly need to stand down from the very things that I need to stand down from and for similar reasons.

    Yet those blogs are the very places I go to get great material to use in real life. I probably ought to spend less time reading blog posts and comments, but these are the very things that I’ve used to develop and hone new life skills from which I am gleaning much profit.

    Prince Hamlet: “to read, or not to read, that is the question”. (I crack myself up)

  7. @LP

    No regrets from me about reading the Men’s Sphere blogs and comments.

    @Chad

    I want to redirect my response to you a bit. It is worthwhile for you to make the effort to EN-joy your own chores so that you are able to pass on the habit by both instruction and model.

  8. Pingback: Calculated Bravery

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