Habits life Parenting

Just 2 on a Friday

November 5, 2021

DISTRACTION. Last night was another one of those nights I got sucked into the Instagram-a-verse and could not get myself out.

This morning, after reading a particularly relevant chapter in 4000 Weeks, I deleted the app from my phone.

I’m over it, you guys. The app may give me something, but it takes away SO MUCH MORE.

I am going to figure out how to post weekly podcast updates from my laptop and I will schedule those. I will get my planner news from my current fave sources (podcasts and very select YouTube) and have a suspicion that will be plenty.

The problem is Insta. I would like those 3 hours of my week back.


OMG, Hanukkah is SOON! I am going to start figuring out gifts this weekend. I really (REALLY) want to get things that are largely consumable + non-clutter producing.

Genevieve has repeatedly asked for a “cake decorating set”, and I don’t think she means a play one, which is interesting. Also, her 4th birthday is inconveniently situated ~4 days after Hanukkah ends. Gah! (Though I AM excited to host the first bday party we’ve held in literally years at a local playground!).

Annabel has asked for $$$ (which . . . I’m not that excited about). Or a bearded dragon.

Cameron yesterday mentioned a kids’ Garmin watch (A has one). This might actually be useful, if he doesn’t lose it.

Please share ideas!!



  • Reply Elisabeth November 5, 2021 at 7:18 am

    I really hope it feels like a burden lifted to have Instagram out of your life!! It’s empowering to remember we CAN say no to these things that are so controlling (and, in you case with Instagram, net negative) in our lives. Gretchen Rubin would say that abstinence is often easier than moderation!

    I sometimes think about the comparison drawn by Bill Maher (in Cal Newport’s Digiital Minimalism): “The tycoons of social media have to stop pretending that they’re friendly nerdy gods building a better world and admit they’re just tobacco farmers in T–shirts selling an addictive product to children. Because, let’s face it, checking your “likes” is the new smoking. Philip Morris just wanted your lungs. The App Store wants your soul.”

    It’s pretty dramatic, but even for those of us not going for the “likes” of a mainstream influencer, I’ve never forgotten this in general terms.

    Also in the same book, Cal said: “People don’t succumb to screens because they’re lazy, but instead because billions of dollars have been invested to make this outcome inevitable.”

    Instagram is designed to pull us in and billions of dollars and thousands of people are behind it!

    • Reply Brooke Taylor November 6, 2021 at 12:53 am

      My youngest (6) was he recipient of a paw patrol watch this year for his birthday. It has some supposedly educational games. I’m not sure they qualify as educational, but it may teach some time management and the product leaps and bounds better than the screens my older kids use.

  • Reply Elisabeth November 5, 2021 at 7:24 am

    Cal Newport’s newsletter from yesterday is actually all about this – linking to a new article published on the impacts of social media (specifically Facebook) on mental health: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3919760

    Very timely!

  • Reply omdg November 5, 2021 at 7:32 am

    Dylan asked for $$$ to buy things on her apps. Part of me dies inside every time I give her something like this, but at least it isn’t plastic crap. She also wants fidgets (i.e. plastic crap), so I plan to indulge her on this. Maybe some big thinking putty? She also specifically asked for a simple dimple.

    Other things on her list: dog (NO), horse (even bigger NO)

    She did ask for a book on how to code in Scratch, which (YES), even though this makes her a huge nerd.

    I am also stumped at what to get her. She’s not so into the Nintendo right now, so any video game would end up being for me, which I definitely do not need.

    • Reply Grateful Kae November 5, 2021 at 8:27 am

      Haha, my husband and I always go around and around about the “Xbox/apple gift cards” for stuff for their games and apps… definitely feels like a big waste, but they love it… and also lol on the horse. That was always on my list too as a girl. My parents always skipped right over that one… ha.

  • Reply Coree November 5, 2021 at 7:49 am

    I wonder about real cake decorating stuff in small scale. And cooking stuff like montessori knives and a chef’s hat? And all the fun sprinkles. My son is just a bit older than G and he has outgrown his Micro Mini scooter so we’re upgrading that to a Maxi, some new books, and two lego sets. But like you, I don’t want loads of stuff, especially since he’s *knock on wood* in school 5 days a week.

  • Reply Laura November 5, 2021 at 8:19 am

    What always amazes me on the screen time count is the texting (messages) number. Each check is so quick but I guess these conversations add up…

  • Reply Noemi November 5, 2021 at 9:21 am

    As you may remember, we adopted a family friend’s bearded dragon this past spring. If you want to know more about how much care they require let me know and we can touch base. They are actually really fun, and probably one of the least energy intensive pets as far as care requirements. My daughter LOVES her dragon. I’m so glad we fell into having one.

  • Reply Amy November 5, 2021 at 9:25 am

    I need to drop Instagram as well. It’s a time suck that honestly brings me no joy. Your decision is giving me the push to just drop it this weekend.

    If you need it for your podcast and stuff, I think you can use Later (I think that’s what it’s called). It lets you schedule content without actually interacting on Instagram. I run our library’s Facebook account and they have Facebook Creator Studio which works similarly. Since they own Instagram, maybe they have something similar? I’m able to schedule posts and see a calendar so I know when the content will go live. It’s nice to not actually go on the site to do it.

  • Reply MP November 5, 2021 at 9:25 am

    Agree with the post of true cake decorating stuff. Maybe some cute cupcake liners, and nice bag for icing with a decorating tip or two? Someone in your house is likely to use the bag in the years to come:).

  • Reply Diane November 5, 2021 at 10:20 am

    Well money is the ultimate consumable….
    What about getting a little offset spatula so she can spread frosting, and then a variety of sprinkles (consumable!)? They make offset spatulas in a variety of sizes and the smaller ones are perfect for little hands plus it’s a real tool, not a toy. I grew up in a bakery and my first cake decorating task was to frost cakes! If she really wants a frosting bag, I found the star tips are pretty easy and forgiving to use.

  • Reply Natka November 5, 2021 at 10:56 am

    I’m working on Hanukkah gifts, too. Some of it is going to be clothing that kids need (boots, warm jackets, gloves, etc). I’ll do some “experience” gifts. In the past (pre-covid times), I gave a little paper-thingy (hidden inside a box and wrapped) that said “overnight one-on-one trip with mom” and kids got to pick the destination. It was really fun! This year, I think I’ll just do day-trips. Still, with our 3 kids, it’s a pretty big deal when a kid gets complete control over where we go and what we do. I am also thinking about other experience-type gifts: circus, musicals, concerts, rock climbing, ice skating, museums.

    One of my kids needs a new CD player (she loves listening to audio books and we have been kind of retrograde and sticking to CD’s).

    They all love legos, so I am considering getting a large set they could all do together (maybe)… Or maybe I’ll take them to the lego store and let them buy parts they need (they like free-building different stuff and took apart all their old sets).

    For one night of Hanukkah, they will be getting gifts for each other.

    Consumable stuff that worked well for us (ages 13, 11, 7): face paint (with instructions). Hair-coloring kit (it washes out super easy but kids have a blast doing it and then walking around with purple hair for a few hours). Supplies for making bracelets. Our oldest recently went through a phase where he was building random electric circuits – so I’ve been getting him wires, lights, motors, etc. Woodworking set (includes knives, wood chunks, instructions). Grow-a-plant kits. Butterfly kits (you get the caterpillars and eventually release butterflies; this was a huge hit when the kids were younger). Triassic triops kit.

    Ideas on useful (but fun) stuff: pocket knife, flashlights, watch (we got the non-smart digital watches that have alarms and timers – older 2 kids love them), desk lights/organizer combo, room decorations (decals, posters).


  • Reply Amanda November 5, 2021 at 11:58 am

    Love these ideas! A few to add (some are experiences & others are things that will be used that my kids are still excited about):

    – Matching pjs
    – Gift certificates to indoor play places (depending on your comfort level & masks are required in our area)
    – Tickets for an outdoor museum event they’ve asked about attending
    – Rain boots, water shoes or other seasonal items if they won’t have a birthday before then
    – Useful things for their bedroom that are needed (nightlight, blanket with their name embroidered, etc.)
    – Yeti makes dishwasher safe water bottles with their names
    – Books on their favorite characters that I can’t find at our local libraries

    I also have a much higher tolerance for learning/building/art toys than something plastic with batteries.

  • Reply JMH November 6, 2021 at 3:23 pm

    Experience cards as gifts! A mom/kid day, trip to a theme park, etc. Our daughter’s favorite birthday gift this year was a day of playing Zelda with Daddy.

  • Reply Brenda November 7, 2021 at 5:49 am

    My 10 year old has a subscription to The Week Junior magazine. He is excited to get it in the mail each week and typically reads it cover to cover. Then when we have about 10 copies, I post them on the Buy Nothing group in my city, and they are out of my house within a day. I could recycle them, but I like the idea of another kid getting to enjoy the content.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns November 8, 2021 at 9:41 am

    I looked at my weekly stats and my IG usage was 1.5 hours – probably not bad all in all? The strict 20 minute/day limit between IG + FB helps keep that habit in check. I wish that screen time was more customizable to exclude phone usage – I have big gray bars every week day and that has to be time spent on my phone for the many meetings I have. I guess when I am back at work, it will be less. My biggest use of time on my phone is a jigsaw puzzle ap. ha! I would love to be able to do actual puzzles but that is not possible with little kids around. They would surely get into it and I’d lose pieces. So for now, I do them on my phone as my daily ‘treat’ at the end of the day!

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