3 Ways to Stop Screen Time from Ruining Your Mood–and Your Marriage!
A few years ago I found myself, on pretty much a weekly basis, pondering, “How can life be so cruel?”
I’d fixate on how deplorable our culture was. I’d bemoan how awful so many men were to so many women. I’d stumble to the bathroom and brush my teeth, and drag myself to the bed and crawl under the covers, hoping to disappear.
My husband would find me like that and try to talk me out of it. He’d want me to open up and explain what was going on in my head. He’d offer to help me make a list of good things that I could focus on instead.
And I would lie there and fume. “Why can’t he just let me have my mood? Why can’t he just leave me alone instead of trying to fix me? He’s always doing that. Every week, he tries to make me see the bright side when I just need to FEEL. Every week. In fact, every Thursday he does this.”
“What’s wrong with him that on Thursdays he always has to interfere?”
Then I thought,”Wait a minute. What’s wrong with me that every Thursday I’m depressed?”
And then I realized that every Thursday, we watched Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Every Thursday, I’d get depressed. And every Thursday, I’d take it out on my husband.
Maybe the problem was not Keith. Maybe the problem was my television preferences!
So we turned off the TV and we switched off Netflix and a couple of times a week we’d find other things to fill our time and build our relationship — things that didn’t make me grumpy and hate men.
It’s not just our homes that can get cluttered. It can be our minds, too.
What we fill our minds with affects our outlook on life. And watching TV or watching a movie doesn’t necessarily build your relationship with your husband that much. Sure, it can be fun occasionally, but many of us turn to screens by default in the evenings, when there are much better options that raise our mood, make us laugh together, and build memories.
Keith and I have focused on three different things that help us. See if you can find one that can work for your marriage, too!
1. Play a board game as a couple.
Board games aren’t just for groups! Board games can be awesome as a couple, too. And we’ve discovered some great new ones, even in the last few years. It’s not all Monopoly and Scrabble and Boggle. Here are a few others that we love:
Hive: It’s like chess, but with bugs. And octagons. Or are they hexagons? Your five pieces can move in different ways, and whoever surrounds the queen bee first wins! The great part about it? It only takes about 10 minutes to play a game all the way through.
Carcassone: Here’s one of my favorites that works great with really young kids and bigger groups, as well. You get to build a medieval French countryside together, putting down tiles that create the board. Monasteries, villages, roads, rivers, and more. You rack up points by finishing a road, city, or building, or by cultivating crops. But the best part is that the board looks different every time!
Pandemic: Another game that works well in groups, but also works well just for couples! It’s a cooperative game, so you can play it with a super competitive husband and no one will get grumpy. (Although you may get killed by a wicked virus. Sometimes stuff happens.) Four viruses are spreading in the world, and you need to use the skills of scientists, researchers, medics, and more to stop the spread. It’s great strategy, and you’ll learn geography, too!
A few years ago, my husband and I watched the movie The Big Year, all about competitive bird watching (yes, there is such a thing). It was such a great movie, and right after that, we went out and bought two sets of awesome binoculars, a bird book, and started ourselves. We live near one of the best bird migration sites in North America, and it didn’t take long to start getting quite the list!
Keith’s way more into birdwatching that I am, but I still love it. We get outside. We get fresh air. We get to talk. And hey–the birds are pretty!
We also love ballroom dancing, and periodically take classes to learn more steps. We’re to the point that we can actually impress people now at weddings.
If you were to say to your beloved, “Honey, can we talk tonight?“, chances are he’d panic. But if you were to say, “Honey, how about a walk after dinner?“, he wouldn’t get his back up, and he may even agree.
When women talk to each other, we tend to like to do it face to face, gazing into our friends’ eyes. But when men talk, they tend to do it side-by-side, when they’re doing something together.
One of the best things we can do for our marriage, then, is to do something that puts you side by side with your husband. And for that, nothing beats getting outside, whether it’s just taking that walk, or taking a bike ride, or even just gardening!
When we get outside, the screen isn’t trying to pull us in so much with its promise of Netflix and movies. We’re able to be fully present and fully available. And that’s going to make you feel far closer to your husband, too!
I had to declutter my mind to see clearly that my husband is a good guy, and he can be a lot of fun. And when we added some fun things that had nothing to do with screens, we increased the laughter. (And I stopped dwelling on horrible sex crimes, too.)
Maybe, as the new school year starts up, it’s time to develop a new routine of your own. After all, no one wants to be grumpy every Thursday!
Learn how to break free from the pressure to perform.
Sitting at Kathi’s kitchen table, I unfold and refold a napkin a dozen times before making the announcement that’s been brewing for weeks.
“I’m resigning as the hardest-working speaker you know.”
Kathi looks up from pouring coffee. “Cheri, when I say ‘you’re the hardest-working speaker I know,’ I mean it as a compliment!”
“Oh, I know you do. And for all these years, I’ve considered it the highest possible praise. But now I’m realizing that you’ve been praising me for – and I’ve even been feeling good about – achieving a goal I don’t even value.”
“Huh?” Kathi hands me a mug and gives me a quizzical eye.
I sigh into my mocha. “I’ve never wanted to be the hardest-working anything you know. I’d far rather be the most creative…the funniest…the quirkiest…pretty much anything other than the hardest-working!”
Kathi knits her brow. “Then why do you work so hard?”
“It’s all I know how to do. I get started and keep working and never know when to stop. I don’t know how to tell if I’ve done enough. So I just keep working harder and harder.”
“Even though you don’t really want to?”
“Wow. I thought you really liked working really hard.”
Kathi stirs her coffee. “You know, in all the years we’ve known each other, I’ve been feeling guilty that I don’t work as hard as you.”
I mimic a teenage eye-roll. “Oh, don’t! It’s so not worth it!”
“I had no idea you were working so hard out of fear, not joy.” She reaches out and puts her hand over mine.
My mocha becomes blurry. “Neither did I. Neither did I.”
Breaking the Pressure to Perform
After Kathi and I had this conversation six years ago, I was overwhelmed by one powerful emotion: regret.
Regret that I’d followed Performancism’s orders to “just work harder.” Regret that I was so late in recognizing Performancism as the slave driver he is.
All the time I’d invested on “perfect” projects? Wasted. It’s not fair.
All the times I’d gone over-and-above expectations at work? Meaningless. It’s not fair.
All the time I hadn’t spent with family and friends? Gone. It’s not fair.
I didn’t know any better.
If only I could go back and do it all over again …
When you’re weighed down by decades of regret, it’s hard to breathe, let alone move.
But even amidst all the regret, something else was stirring.
I’d start to round up the usual anxiety for a new project and suddenly remember: I don’t have to work that way any more.
I’d start to mock myself for all the mistakes I’d made in a conversation and suddenly recall: I don’t have to impress anyone any more.
I’d start to fret about the many friendships I’d ruined and suddenly realize: I don’t have to keep doing what I’ve always done.
Relief motivated me to make new choices.
I told an authority figure “no.”
I said “yes” to something fun.
I didn’t fret when the something fun turned out to be no fun after all.
I added to my gratitude journal each day.
And I made one more seemingly small choice with enormous ramifications.
Re-reading the Gospels
I read through Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John again, slowly, lingering as long as I liked in each chapter before moving on to the next. Without Performancism breathing down my neck, I saw Jesus in a whole new light.
I spent months reading and re-reading the stories of Jesus’ encounters with women, seeing how Jesus responded to women, how Jesus made women feel.
I discovered that Jesus used the word “wise” to describe women who said “no.” (Matthew 25:1-13 NIV)
I stayed in John 21 for a full year, awed by the safety Peter — despite all his failures — found in Christ and Christ alone.
Looking back over the last six years, I am thank-full. I can see how small changes combined into big changes that have accelerated into huge changes. God is restoring the years that Performancism consumed (Joel 2:25 KJV).
And as I look forward, I am hope-full. God is “doing a new thing” and “making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19 NLT).
Perhaps you, too, hear the incessant inner voice telling you to “Just work harder!” Maybe you, too, feel that your identity is based on your productivity.
If so, I want you to know that you can break free from Performancism.
In the process, you will feel some regret.
But as God does His “new thing” in your life, you’ll feel even greater relief which will lead to new choices.
And one day you’ll realize that although you’re still working hard, it’s no longer from fear.
From now on, it’s for joy.
Break the Pressure to Perform With Our New Book Club!
Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory have a new book available for pre-order now. “You Don’t Have to Try So Hard” will enable you to break free from the bullies of perfectionism, performancism, people-pleasing, and procrastination.
Click HERE to find out more and to sign up for the Book Club so you can find freedom from the pressure to perform.
When I talk to women about what they want to improve in their lives, so many say something along these lines: “I want to focus on my husband this year. And I want to finally get organized. And lose weight!”
OK – so I may not be able to help you with the weight thing. But what if told you that you could improve both your marriage and your home at the same time?
Learn a quick way to save on school supplies AND teach your kids an important lesson.
Last night, I was at the office supply store along with about every parent and school-age child in our county. Fortunately, I was able to dash in and out in a matter of minutes to get the labels I needed for a project.
Not so much for all those families wandering the aisles.
Each of them had a pre-printed shopping list provided by the teachers, of what they would need to get through the first several months of classes .I listened as kids read off items and the parents dutifully grabbed supplies from shelves and put them into their shopping carts:
Of course, the store was ready and waiting for them. End caps of tissue and paper towels waited for those lists and carts to roll by. And flashbacks to my own “Back-to-School” shopping came flooding back.
I remember blindly going down the aisles of Target, wanting to get all the check marks on the list. Throwing in overpriced tissues and paper towels that were conveniently located in the back-to-school aisle, not even stopping to consider that we had tissues and paper towels from our last Costco run. Buying scissors even though we probably had a dozen pairs tucked away in drawers and desks at home. Buying boxes of fresh crayons instead of going through the craft drawer.
As a recovering clutterer, I remember loving having an excuse to buy all new things because they are “on the list.”
Give Your Kids One Thing That’s Not On The List
But the best thing I can give myself and my kids is not school supplies in brand new shiny boxes. It’s something else: resourcefulness.
Giving your kids a budget for school supplies is teaching resourcefulness — and will help you to save on school supplies!
Having our kids hunt for school supplies in our own homes before heading to Target is teaching resourcefulness. (Even washing backpacks so they look good for this year.) Going through sales flyers with your kids and finding discounts on what you still need is teaching resourcefulness.
What If You Don’t Have Kids In School?
My plan for back to school? See what I have extra (I’ve been known to be an office supply hoarder) and ask my teacher friends what they can use.
Hint: They can always use a box or two of tissues.
I may not have kids in school, but I care deeply that kids in my area have what they need. I would rather it be used in a classroom than taking up room in my office.
Part of being Clutter Free is making sure we are using our resources wisely, and that we can be a resource for others during their time of need.
Join the Clutter Free Academy and conquer your clutter!
On that sunny August day, I thought my life couldn’t get much worse.
Recently separated from my husband and with no support from him, I was teetering on the financial edge. My kids and I had just moved in with my parents, and I was desperately looking for a job to support my two middle schoolers.
I thought about our old life where the only thing I needed to get them ready for a new school year was a debit card and a couple trips to the mall. With school only a few weeks away, I didn’t know where I’d get the money to buy clothes and shoes or pay for annual physicals.
Click HERE to read the rest of this post on Girlfirends in God.
Learn 5 easy ways to foster creativity and stay organized at the same time.
I come from a line of crazy, creative women.
My grandmother was a designer, and then the first woman creative director for Hallmark Cards. She toured all over the Midwest giving talks about creativity while drawing with chalk at the same time. (They were called, adorably, “Chalk Talks”.)
My mom made many of my clothes growing up and is an award-winning quilter. (She made the “guest book” for Roger’s and my wedding – a king sized quilt that everyone at our wedding signed.)
And my step-daughter Amanda, can make anything more beautiful with her lettering, drawing and a little bit of purple glitter.
If you had asked me as a young adult if I was creative, I would have given you my standard reply, “It skipped a generation.”
But now, years later, I can finally say the words “I’m creative”, because I realized that all creativity is not just about making things pretty — we can be creative in a thousand different ways. Here are a few ways I have infused creativity in my day:
Putting a great meal on the table;
Writing a loving note to a friend;
Putting up a fun Facebook Live video;
Cutting branches from our trees to make “arrangements”;
Mixing up essential oils to make our room smell amazing.
And we all have the opportunity to infuse a little more creativity into our day, but one thing I’ve discovered about myself is that in order for me to be creative, my creativity demands a couple of things: order and space.
So here is how I foster creativity and stay organized at the same time:
We all have the picture of the wild and free spirit who is creating everywhere she goes. Her life is one big piece of art …
But what I’ve come to understand is that your creativity needs a safe place to be let out to play. Your creativity needs some rules and structure to feel secure enough to do what it wants to do. This is why I get up at 5:00 a.m. every morning, go downstairs, feed the animals, grab a cup of coffee, and start writing. I’ve trained my creativity to show up and perform on a schedule. I no longer have to wrestle her to the ground – we have a standing date.
This routine also helps me stay organized in the morning because when I start my day the same way every day, I am able to continue my day the same way. After I write, I walk the dog with my husband, come home, clean up, and get ready for the day. One of the beautiful things about routine is that you don’t have to spend a lot of time deciding what you’ll do next. It’s already been decided for you and your brain is free to think of other, amazing creative things.
Your To Do: Where is one block of time that you could create a little routine for yourself? Create a pocket of routine in that time and then start to grow your routine to two hours. (I highly suggest starting with first thing in the morning or last thing at night.)
As much as I believe in the benefits of routine, sometimes there is value in breaking out of it, for creativity’s sake.
Right now I’m sitting in the passenger seat of our Rav 4 listening to Simon & Garfunkel’s I Am a Rock while driving in Northern California with my husband by my side (singing about 40% of the words to the song while tooling down the freeway.) This? It’s not my optimal writing situation. But, sometimes, it’s good to get out of your routine, mix things up a bit, and challenge yourself to do the hard stuff and be creative even when the circumstances don’t lend themselves to it. I love to know that I can be creative – no matter where I am or what I am doing (or whose off key singing I’m listening to). I am a warrior!
Another way I love to break routine is to dedicate a couple of times a year to just being creative. I love to get away with a few friends to a cabin or house somewhere pretty and just hunker down and write all day. This is when I can get away from laundry and errands, hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on my email (with an auto-responder) and just concentrate on getting my creativity on.
Your To Do: Don’t have a cabin in the words? That’s OK. Take a Saturday in a Starbucks, or even rent a hotel room with a friend. (But be sure to set up the schedule ahead of time so you know when to chat and when to write. There’s nothing worse than coming home from a writer’s retreat without having written anything…)
Plan Out Your Day
There is something about having a well-scheduled day that forces you not only to stay on track, but actually frees up your brain to think differently.
I love scheduling my day and seeing it on paper – it helps me see my day in chunks and make plans to create.
When I’m scheduling, I try to break up my “thinking-about-how-to-write-this-article” heavy thinking with “folding-the-load-of-towels” non-thinking so that my brain has some time to be free and play. As much as I would love to concentrate my way into brilliant thoughts, most of my favorite ideas come while unloading the dishwasher and removing puggle hair from the couch.
I’ve tried a million different planners, and Iwhat I’ve learned is that I need a planner without a ton of structure. This one from Ruth Choe Simmons, The Gracelaced 17 Month Planner is just perfect for me – with enough structure to keep me on track, but enough blank spaces to give me the room I need to think outside of the lines. It’s exactly what the creative one needs: a little guidance in her life.
Your To Do: Spend just five minutes planning out what you want to get accomplished today (or, if you’re better at night, plan out what you want to get accomplished tomorrow). You will be amazed at how much more room your brain will have to be creative.
Organize Your Tools
One of the fastest routes to creativity is to have your tools ready and waiting for you when it’s time to create. Every night I set my coffee to auto-brew, charge my computer, and make sure that my notebook and pen are next to my writing chair before I go to bed. That way, all my tools are where I need them.
The less obstacles you have to get to your creativity, the faster you can start being creative.
Your To Do: Define what your tools are and where you are going to keep them that will require the least amount of hassle.
Create Some Space
“Clutter makes me creative!”, we scream. But, actually, all the research says the exact opposite.
We do our best work in an area where we are free from distractions, and let’s be clear; all clutter is a distraction.
Your To Do: Create a space where you can be as free from distraction as possible. An uncluttered area where you can create keeps your mind on the beauty of what you are creating, not the clutter that is trying to steal you attention.
Giveaway to Help You Stay Organized!
How do you up your creativity? Share your idea below and you will be entered to win our grand prize sponsored by Harvest House Publishers so you can be creative and stay organized too.