Hi. I’m Katie, and I’m an email addict. It’s true and a little scary. My entire schedule and life as a mom, wife, friend and business owner depends on email. My home computer is on 24/7 so all I have to do is pop over to the screen and check my inbox. I check it first thing in the morning (usually after making school lunches and before the bus rush), and then several times throughout the day. If the power in our house goes out or if my email is down, I panic. I break out in a cold sweat and start to shake (Ok, I am kidding about that!). But I really find life without email next to impossible to manage.
Even my kids notice. I’ve been scolded with, “Mommy if you don’t let me do this, I am going to have Daddy take away your email.” Yikes.
Before you think I’m a complete freak, don’t forget that my business (Triad Moms on Main) depends on me to stay in touch with readers, team members, advertisers and vendors through email, and within a reasonable response time. I also rely heavily on email for everything associated with my children’s schools, volunteer work, organizing play dates, communicating with my husband when he is at work, and catching up with friends (I absolutely despise talking on the phone longer than 10 minutes – but that’s a post for another day).
It’s obvious our fast-paced lifestyles have become accustomed to fast-paced communication because there is no way we’d get all this done otherwise. I don’t know how our moms survived, kept things straight, or had time to keep up with friends and family!
And with my whole life plugged into email you’d think I’d also be mobile with it too, right? Nope. I’m probably one of the last few living moms without some type of smart phone. I know, not smart.
Still, I know a lot of face-to-face time with my monitor cannot be healthy – for me or for my kids. What’s worse is trying to get other things done while keeping up with email – and have your kids see you attempt all of this too. I admit I have tried this and failed. I cannot do email plus a million other things. But that’s just fine with me!
I recently read an article about a mom who shared a similar addiction with her IPhone. She said checking her phone while talking to her kid while cooking dinner started to hurt her “capacity to stay with a thought for more than 140 characters.” And she had a report by Stanford University researchers back her up. They said that people who juggle different sources of electronic information do not focus or remember as well as people who work on one task at a time.
She also referred to another Stanford study that suggests multi-tasking and spending a lot of time online could be damaging your tween’s ability to develop emotional and social skills. They see you do it, they model you, and as a result of all their time online, they never learn how to read or understand other people’s emotions.*
Beyond memory and social skills, did you know email can also affect your breathing? Believe it or not, there’s a proven condition called Email Apnea – a temporary absence or suspension of breathing, or shallow breathing, while doing email. It’s true! Linda Stone, a writer for the Huffington Post, coined the phrase and condition, and described in an article how she discovered it:
“As the email spills onto my screen, as my mind races with thoughts of what I’ll answer first, what can wait, who I should call, what should have been done two days ago; I’ve stopped the steady breathing I was doing only moments earlier in a morning meditation and now, I’m holding my breath…And here’s the deal. You’re probably holding your breath, too.”
I am. Because as soon as I get done writing this post, I will log onto my email and easily download more than 20 emails – and it’s been less than an hour since I checked it last. But that’s a light load – you should see my unchecked inbox after a couple of hours.
While it seems impossible for me to imagine life without email, I try to remember there is no replacement for quality face-to-face time, phone calls, handwritten notes, and just simple connections without wires or wireless modems.
And as we keep pace with our busy lives as moms; as co-workers; as CEOs and CFOs of our homes; as leaders on our school PTA, preschool parent’s councils or neighborhood associations; and as wives, daughters, sisters and friends – let’s also keep in mind that it’s ok to get unplugged, and stay unplugged, every so often.
Life does get done without email. Our moms figured it out, right? Ok, just breathe.
What about you? Do you share the same addiction or a similar one? How do you manage?
*Smartphone danger: Distracted parenting
By Katia Hetter, Special to CNN
June 14, 2011