life Parenting Reading

Life Updates

December 7, 2021

1- Feeling my feelings more . . .

I think the elimination of scrolling from my life has had an unintended side effect some days of allowing myself to feel more sadness. My usual tendency was to use my phone as a soothing balm of escape, and having abruptly stopped I have felt more emotional.

I am not sure whether this is an entirely good thing. But it seems healthier.

Feeling sad or unsure about things can be normal, I think. I’m still overall feeling positive and looking forward to life in general, so it doesn’t feel like depression/anhedonia. Just a bit more raw.

2- Looking forward to more end-of-year reflection.

I have a draft of my 2022 goals (in Todoist, though I plan to transcribe them into handwritten form as well!) and plan on filling in my PowerSheets over the next couple of weeks. Some of my goals/plans are discussed in today’s BOBW ep (see Laura’s site for a post on today’s ep; they are not up yet, but I’m sure they will be later today!).

I’m leading a goal-setting webinar of sorts with our residents today. I hope it goes well. I know not everyone responds to the same kinds of goal setting (hello, 4 tendencies . . .) but at least it will be dedicated space/time for them to think about next year. I will also be leading a similar session for faculty AND for our Patreon!

solo park outing with G. One of my goals is to get more 1:1 time with each kid!

3- I’m so relieved Hanukkah is over!

Too many gifts + too much pressure. (Still need to buy something for G’s 4th birthday which is in 4 days, gah!). G did indeed get cake decorating tools, which we will put to good use hopefully this weekend. A did not get her bearded dragon (we are tabling that until her birthday, which is in April — she is okay with it).

And then we went out with a bang and bought the kids a Nintendo Switch for night 8. They are excited (it hasn’t come yet, but will be here soon). Our thought was that we’d rather have them playing games together on the big screen than hunched over individual iPads. (We do regulate screen time around here, but are fairly generous with time allocation particularly on the weekends.)

very excited to be ‘player of the game’ this past Saturday (flag football)

4- I’m reading this . . . and it’s a lot to handle emotionally, but I’m glad I did (almost done now).

That’s mostly it. Off to run.


  • Reply CZ December 7, 2021 at 6:11 am

    That book is amazing. It changed my whole perspective on life.

  • Reply Katherine B December 7, 2021 at 6:56 am

    Do you think feeling sad/reflective (1) and what you are reading (4) could be connected? At least as much as having more time to think due to not scrolling so much? Not a bad thing at all though.

  • Reply Lani Inlander December 7, 2021 at 7:08 am

    That book is on my shelf, but I have not tackled it yet! Ditto on the pressure of Hanukkah! We have two birthdays this month too. It’s a lot!
    I agree with Katherine. I think now is the time for a fun, easy read!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 7, 2021 at 8:54 am

      I’m thinking Liane Moriarty!!!

      • Reply Jules December 7, 2021 at 10:23 am

        I read a lot of the same books as you and hatred Apples Never Fall! And I like a lot of her books. I finished it but am still mad at myself for not just DNFing it.

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 7, 2021 at 11:59 am

          oh nooooo! that’s so sad! I think I will still give it a try.

          • Chelsea December 7, 2021 at 1:45 pm

            FWIW, I did like Apples Never Fall so it’s probably still worth a try 🙂

  • Reply Marianne December 7, 2021 at 7:45 am

    Goal podcast comment related – I too will listen to anyone’s goals! And I love what you said about how they should not trap us. Thank you!

  • Reply Irene December 7, 2021 at 8:18 am

    I am having a lot of feelings too. My kids immune systems seem to be reset compared to before the pandemic and someone has been sick nonstop for weeks now. It’s tough from a work perspective but also with the backdrop of the pandemic I feel so aware of the slim possibility that they could get *really* sick. And my kids are just so tough right now but so precious to me and it’s just a lot of feelings. I also keep thinking about everything we did not and have not done over the past two years/ family we have not seen as much of and friends I have not focused on. It’s been a long time. No real regrets but it’s hard to break the feelings of isolation when we are still WAH and no plans to return. Just a lot of feelings but trying to be grateful and savor the good moments too.

  • Reply JKDublin December 7, 2021 at 8:33 am

    In terms of gaming, the Nintendo Switch does tend to foster community, in my opinion, and it has great options for parental control/supervision, etc. My boys (8 &12) have had one for a while, and it while there is the occasional argument, it’s generally a talking point for them, something that they share well, and can be fun if they have friends over. I am not interested in gaming in the slightest, lol, but this scratches their itch without driving me too bananas!

    I am also feeling big feelings, and I really think it’s because 2021 has been truly exhausting. My antidote has been reading romance!

    • Reply Megan December 7, 2021 at 2:11 pm

      We have a Switch and I’d recommend Just Dance if you think the kids would be into it. My 10, 7 and 4 year old all do it together AND it’s physical activity. And I’m with you on your sentiment that not all screen time is the same. The three of them doing Just Dance for 30 min is way diff than being on separate tablets.

  • Reply Jenny December 7, 2021 at 9:52 am

    I listened to a podcast a while ago (totally forget what it was) about addiction. The guest had abused alcohol and gave that up. Then she worked on getting her impulsive eating / sugar consumption under control. She remarked that she was “like a turtle without its shell.” She couldn’t rely on her unhealthy coping mechanisms and she was all out there, exposed, and feeling each of her feelings. I think that description is pretty accurate.

  • Reply Jules December 7, 2021 at 10:26 am

    I completely agree with you re: the Switch. My girls are 7 & 9, and yes they have arguments sometimes of course, but I do love that when they play they are playing together. And sometimes we’ll all play as a family and have a ton of fun (Mario Party is a really fun family game).

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 7, 2021 at 11:59 am

      Oh good, b/c that’s the only game we bought so far!

      • Reply Sarah K December 7, 2021 at 2:04 pm

        My kids (8 & 11) also like Mario Kart – it has a 4 player option if you buy additional controllers!

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 7, 2021 at 8:51 pm

          Given the odd number of kids you can bet we got an extra controller set!!!

  • Reply Susan December 7, 2021 at 11:10 am

    I think you did the right thing gaming wise. When my sons were young, a wiser woman told me to get the best gaming system we could afford so all the kids would hang at our house and we would know what was going on. We did, and they did. But honestly, the house really got busy when the boys were in high school and we got a pool table.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 7, 2021 at 12:05 pm

      I would 100% get a pool table down the road for that reason. Ha!

  • Reply Heather December 7, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    Maybe it would help to not do gifts for Hanukkah next year or think about ways that make it more meaningful and family oriented. I wouldn’t think that holidays like it should feel like such a chore? We’ve done this with Christmas the last several years and it has made it much more fun.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 7, 2021 at 12:49 pm

      I’d love to – I feel like we just need to wait for kids (esp youngest kid) to get to a point where that would not be devastating. But yes. One big gift maybe like a family trip.

      • Reply Heather December 8, 2021 at 10:00 am

        If it makes you feel better, we started doing it with my nephew when he was 8. We started doing less gifts and more experiences. And, he hasn’t really complained too much. He stills items like Switch games if he has shown good behavior and good grades. And, we still buy him some gifts, too, but we’ve really taken out the grandiose of it.

  • Reply Diana December 7, 2021 at 1:11 pm

    I love that book! Rereading this book was on my 21 for 21 list so good reminder for me to crack it open again before the end of the year.
    I also quit Instagram a few months ago and while the initial first couple of weeks was a little harder I’m so glad I did!! I’m so much happier! I have a lot more time, my level of focus has gone way up and I make time to reach out to people in want to keep in touch with. I’m way more present with my kids and spouse ans I use my free time in more meaningful ways! Im tempted to buy less. I’m focusing on living my own life rather than vicariously through others. This sounds like im being dramatic but I got a major life lift from eliminating it (and I’ve never had Facebook so that was never an issue). Anyway I know everyone is different but for me the costs very much outweighed the marginal benefit (there actually was very very little benefit beyond the slight uptick in dopamine for 1 minute.) I really enjoyed your podcast on the subject 🙂

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns December 7, 2021 at 1:29 pm

    I listened to the simple families episode about minimalist Christmas/holidays. Our kids are young – 3.5 and 1 – so I feel like we are still able to set boundaries on things without too much push back so I am trying to be really thoughtful about how we celebrate Christmas so I don’t feel ‘locked in’ to a certain number of gifts. it’s harder to take away than to add. For the last several years, the 3.5yo has only gotten a Santa gift and I’m hoping I can keep up with that? They get so much from my MIL, as well as a cousin gift exchange gift and my parents get them 1 thing usually + money for their college accounts. The 3.5yo can’t even tell us what he wants for Christmas! We bought him an inexpensive refurbished iPad mini + a case. We do not have a family iPad so I think it will be useful for him to have one, especially for car and plane trips and for playing educational games on the weekends, etc. I really want to shift the focus on experiences, like going to a holiday light show, seeing family, driving around and looking at Christmas lights, etc. We’ll see if I can stay to this strict limit of just 1 gift? It feels very counter-cultural! That’s not to say what others are doing is wrong. I guess I am lucky to have come to parenting later in life and to have access to things like Simple Families that really makes me think about how we will celebrate the holidays! I am taking a social media break right now, maybe through the end of Lent! We’ll see. I usually give it up for Lent but last year I gave it up in November around the election and it was so good for me. I wanted to be able to post about the baby turning 1 but went off social media the next day as I don’t want the comparison trap of the holidays. Even though i feel strongly about our gift-giving policy, I can get a weird feeling when I see piles of presents other kids are getting! Again, no value judgement against doing that, I just know it doesn’t align with our kids’ needs/our desire to have LESS stuff but I can trick myself into thinking I am robbing my kids of experiences other kids are having!!

    Like Irene, we are on a never-ending hamster wheel of illnesses so I am feeling pretty meh right now and not exactly in the Christmas spirit! But it is snowing out right now and hopefully I’m coming to the end of a nearly-2 week cold virus? The 1yo is getting his molars so that + his cold has made for terrible sleep which doesn’t help my mood! I don’t have social media to scroll either so maybe I’m more aware of how I am feeling? What I am aware of is my mindless pattern of going to the folder on my phone were my social media aps were embedded! Eeks. A sure sign I needed a good solid break.

  • Reply Kristina December 8, 2021 at 9:27 am

    I am so looking forward to the goal setting workshop in Patreon, and I’m sure it will go well in other areas too. Making it a priority to clear out time/ space to just think about goals makes me feel productive.

    I’ve been limiting instagram time to certain hours of the day to avoid early-morning scrolling and late night scrolling, and I’ve definitely noticed how much of a reflex it was for any particular reason. I’d check when I was bored, anxious, sad, etc. In those moments now, I’m just “there.” It’s good but I can totally relate to maybe feeling some more feelings that maybe I didn’t notice because I was scrolling instead.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 8, 2021 at 11:32 am

      I think it went well!!! I’m pretty happy getting to share my “system” 🙂 it’s probably not for everyone but the residents hopefully at least liked some parts of it.

  • Reply Natasha December 8, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    I am reading that book (well, particular chapters) for a graduate social work trauma course I am teaching. Most of my students love it but a few really dislike it. I like that we are just covering part of it, as it is a lot to take in!

  • Reply Alyce December 9, 2021 at 8:26 am

    I think that feeling your feelings more is just a natural byproduct of not using IG to ignore or suppress them. I’ve finally found a great therapist who is forcing me to actually feel my feelings and actively process them rather than reason them away (my typical defense mechanism to avoid processing my feelings) and I feel like I’m finally moving forward through my grief and sadness over my daughter’s diagnosis. I definitely used to push myself (and you, I must admit) to discount how I was feeling because others have it worse, and I was definitely wrong in that approach. I mean, comparison did make me feel better in the moment, but suppressing the emotion wasn’t actually dealing with it, and over the long term, was leading to all sorts of bad outcomes. Anyways, I’m deeply grateful to be working with a therapist in a discipline that makes you actually confront your emotions and the discomfort they bring, mentally and physically. Regular CBT is just too soft an approach for me. One book I’ve been reading is Living Like You Mean It by Ronald Frederick Jr., which a therapist friend who recommended my new therapist to me also recommended as a companion guide for the type of therapy I’m doing (ISTDP) to achieve my therapy goals. The title is cheesy, but I do find that it’s an excellent tool for learning how to process and respond to your emotions.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 9, 2021 at 12:36 pm

      Thank you so much for the book rec. And I’m so glad the approach has been helpful for you. I feel like I would benefit from a coach or therapist myself at some point (we probably all would!) but it’s so hard to figure out which approach is the best fit.

  • Reply Vanessa December 9, 2021 at 9:00 pm

    Always think of this quote: “For the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire.”

    Beautiful book!

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