Social Media Detox: 5 Things I’ve Noticed in My First Week

Last week, after a lot of thought, I decided to give up social media for Lent. I don’t usually give up something for Lent or even think much about this season, primarily because I’m a non-denominational Christian, and my church doesn’t put a whole lot of emphasis on observing this tradition. But when I started reading about the origin of Lent and the idea of giving up something in order to focus more on God and prepare your heart for Easter, I wanted to participate this year. It wasn’t that tough for me to decide what to give up because I already knew I sorely needed a social media detox. It’s just been sucking me in way too much lately and becoming a time-waster and comparison trap when I’m not careful.

It was a little scary to sign off completely for  because I’m just so used to keeping up with everyone’s news, photos, and updates through Facebook and Instagram. I definitely second-guessed myself as I went to bed that night, and wondered if I was going to regret this decision.
However, by the end of the first detox day, I was LOVING this break. I couldn’t believe how freeing it was to be disconnected and unplugged from the internet world. 

Here are 5 things I’ve noticed from my first week off social media:

1) I really don’t miss it like I thought I would. 
In fact, I don’t really miss Facebook AT ALL. The only times I found myself really wanting to get on it were 1) to look for something on a “swap group” (buy/sell/trade groups are where I get basically all of Lydia’s toys) and 2)  to get on one of the “natural mamas” groups I’m in to get some advice. Other than that, I really haven’t missed anything about Facebook!

2) I do miss Instagram. 
I really love posting photos on Instagram as a way to chronicle our life with Lydia. For me, Instagram is like an online journal and I really miss posting photos from our activities and memories with Lydia. If I don’t put photos on Instagram, they just get transferred to my computer once my phone runs out of space and then they sit in deep, dark folders on my laptop and are completely out of sight, out of mind. 🙁  I love that Instagram gives me a way to keep all the major photos and highlights all in one place. So I will definitely be glad to get back on Instagram once these 40 days are over. 🙂

3) A lot of my Facebook friends aren’t real-life friends.
I used to have about 700 Facebook friends, which really isn’t a lot compared to what some people have, I know. But a couple months ago, I felt like it was getting out of hand and half the people I was seeing on my news-feed I’d only met once or twice or had no current contact with them. So, I went through and deleted 250 “friends” in one sitting. Of course, none of them were actual real-life friends. But even with my now 400-ish “friends,” I realize that many of them I never talk to in real life and have no real relationship with. I’m not trying to sound rude, but now that I’m off Facebook I realize how many people I really don’t care to keep up with via photos and statuses while never seeing them in real life. It just seems so fake and time-wasting, once I’ve stepped back and looked at it from a different perspective now.

4) My real-life friends are still my friends even without Facebook.
Imagine that! 😉 It’s been good for me to realize this past week that even though I might be “out of the loop” when it comes to Facebook updates, pictures, etc., I’ve still had plenty of meaningful interactions, conversations, and text message exchanges with the people who are my real-life community. The close friends I have are not going to forget about me just because I’m not on social media. It sounds silly to say, but it was honestly I secret concern I had when getting off Facebook especially. But guess what? I can get photos of my real-life friend’s babies via text messaging, and I can still stay up-to-date with the people I really care about through coffee dates and FaceTime.
I’m beginning to think Facebook just made me *feel* like I was connected to so many people when really the actual meaningful connections happen outside of Facebook and they happen with a core group of 10-15 friends, not 400. Obvious, I know. But that hadn’t fully sunk in for me until now.

5) I am so much more present without social media in my life.
Present in the moment. Present in conversations with my husband. Present while waiting in line at the store. Present with my baby while she’s playing on the floor next to me.
I never spent hours of time just scrolling on Facebook, but my issue was all the 5 or 10 minute increments here and there where I would be waiting for someone, or in line somewhere, or in between activities, or {you name it} and, out of habit, I’d pull out my phone and open Facebook to see what my 700 400 friends were up to. It really wasn’t uplifting, or a good use of time, but it had just become my habit somehow. Now that I don’t have that option, I’ve found that I’m way more present in the moment and engaging more in the world around me. Instead of being head-down in line at the store with my eyes on my phone, I’m noticing the people around me and actually having conversations with them sometimes. What?? What did people do before they had their phones to stare at in line? Maybe they actually made small talk with the people around them?? Crazy. 😛

All in all, I’ve LOVED this first week of my social media detox. It’s been freeing. Eye-opening. And revealed a lot to me about myself. I’ve got a lot more thoughts to share (literally; I have a 1,000 word blog post about my love/hate relationship with Facebook that is sitting in my Drafts folder… yikes. Long-winded, much? :-0)

…which I guess leads me to another thing I’ve noticed from my first week, if I can just tack this on at the end:

—> Since I’m not on social media, I’m spending my time in much more constructive ways. I’m writing a lot more; playing guitar; powering through books from the library like crazy. Even though my social media usage was (usually) just 5 or 10 minutes here and there, it all adds up, and (for me) it definitely created this underlying bad habit that I would get sucked into instead of spending my time on the things that really bring me joy and fulfillment.

Well, there you have it. My first week of detox has been incredible. I did not expect this. I thought I was going to be so frustrated at not being able to keep up with everything online. I was pretty certain I’d be bored a lot or feel sad that I wasn’t up-to-date on everyone’s pictures and statuses and what-not. I did not expect to actually love this break or feel lighter and happier because of it.  Who knows…I might end up getting “off the grid” altogether after this experience… :-0

{Healthier} Valentine’s Chocolate Cake

We were so excited when Rob’s mom offered to babysit for us on Valentine’s Day!! ❤ We got dressed up a little and went out for drinks at a new place right down the road from our house. ??  

Then we went to Olive Garden for dinner with a gift card we had! I used to really care about making special nights like Valentine’s Day a big deal with a new restaurant and all that, but I’ve come to realize that it’s actually just as fun to go to a regular old place when you have a gift card and know your dinner is paid for!!? So we got the fun of trying out a new place for drinks while also saving money with our dinner gift card! Budget win!!  ??

Earlier in the day, I had made this flourless chocolate cake for us to eat when we got home from the date night, but we were so stuffed full of pasta and breadsticks that we decided to save it for Wednesday night instead. ?

I used to make this cake fairly often during our first year of marriage, but had forgotten about it until just recently when I was brainstorming ideas for Valentine’s desserts.
This cake still has sugar in it so it’s not *super healthy* per se, but it’s definitely *more healthy* than a lot of desserts out there. Plus it’s decadent, rich, and melts in your mouth, so what else really matters?? ? Served alongside some vanilla ice cream, it is incredible. 

Bonus: it’s only 4 ingredients, and I bet you already have 3 of them on hand in your kitchen! Doesn’t get much easier than that. ??

Check out this delicious recipe HERE. And make it now. You won’t regret it. ?

My Goals for February!

I loooooove goals. They keep me focused. They give me something to work toward. And they involve lists, which are one of my other favorite things. 😉

For years, I’ve had the habit of setting goals at the beginning of January for the new year ahead. I usually make monthly goals as well, to break down the bigger picture into more practical, do-able chunks. There’s something so fulfilling to me about having a purpose and focus for the month and then working toward those goals.

In January, I never really wrote down my goals for the month, but a couple of them were:

1) Read one new book (Check! I actually read two!)
2) Try two new recipes (Check!)
3) Go for a few runs outdoors (Check!)

I didn’t really set challenging goals for January because we were coming down from the craziness of the holiday season and trying to settle in to our new house. So I just focused on things that seemed do-able and enjoyable.

For February, I’ve added a few goals and made them a little more challenging and specific, too.

Here’s my goal list for February:

1) Read one book


I love reading, but unless I discipline myself + have a book I’m actually excited to read, I don’t tend to make time for it any more. Thankfully, we live right by a huge new library now so I have endless options at my fingertips. The book I’m planning to read for this month is Rachel Cruze’s “Love Your Life, Not Theirs” because several people lately have told me it’s really good. And it goes well with our whole budgeting focus lately! But when I went to the library to pick it up, I stumbled across a book nearby on the shelf called “On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life” and was drawn in by the raving endorsements on the back from two of my favorite authors/speakers: Brene Brown and Dave Ramsey. So I thought I’d bring that one home too and give it a try!

2) Work out abs for 10 min, 5x/week

Lydia bouncing away while I did my ab workout yesterday 😉

I loathe ab workouts. They’re my least favorite workout to do. But I want to strengthen my core (especially after having a baby) so I’m going to try to discipline myself to do a 10-min ab workout, 5 times a week. It can’t be that bad, right? 😛 I’ll be sharing some of my favorite ab exercises with you all in the next few days! I intentionally made this a very specific, measurable goal, because I knew if I didn’t then I wouldn’t keep to it at all. I’m tracking my progress on my calendar to keep me on track as well.

3) Try 2 new recipes

I tend to get stuck in a rut with my recipes, but last month I tried 2 new ones and they turned out surprisingly well! (Even though they looked nothing like the amazing picture on

One of the recipes I tried last month…it was amazing!

Pinterest… but when does that ever happen, really?)  😛 This month, I want to try 2 more new recipes to keep expanding my repertoire.

4) Practice guitar at least 3x/week

I want to be more consistent with practicing guitar so that I can actually get better at it and be able to play proficiently!!

5) Switch our cell phone plan to a new carrier

We’re paying way too much with our current plan and are planning to switch to Straight Talk, but this involves a whole process of unlocking our phones, ending our contract, etc, so I need to put it on my goal list or else I know I’ll keep putting it off!

6) Stick to the budget with the envelope system

Month 2 of the cash-envelopes system is underway!

7) Have at least one night a week with no Netflix or phones

We fall into ruts from time to time where we’ll just crash on the couch after Lydia goes to bed and turn on Netflix, or both be on our phones surfing social media or texting, with very minimal conversation (i.e. grunts and “uh-huh”s).  😛

We really enjoy playing card games, talking about our day over a glass of wine/beer, reading together, etc. We just need to discipline ourselves to keep the TV and phones turned off so that we’ll actually engage in these more purposeful activities together! 🙂 We already have a routine of turning our phones on silent and putting them away somewhere once it’s our time together in the evening, but we want to be more consistent with this!

Do you have any goals for the month?? I’d love to hear them!!

Our 1st Month with a Cash Budgeting System!

It’s January 31st, which means we made it through our first month of using the “cash in envelopes” budgeting system!! We kept talking off and on about trying this and finally just went for it with the start of the new year!!

When I posted about this on Instagram in the beginning of the month, a bunch of people commented or messaged me and said they were curious to hear how it went, so I decided to just write my “review” of the whole process for anyone who’s considering trying this for themselves.

What’s involved in this envelope system?

This system does require a little bit of up-front planning, but once you get that done, it’s really not that tough. We sat down at the beginning of the month and figured out what our categories would be for the envelopes, and then created a simple spreadsheet to plan for how much cash we would be putting in each one. Keep in mind, we didn’t use the envelopes for bills because those are automatically deducted from our account each month. We also still used our debit cards for gas, because that just seemed easier and it’s not like we’re really tempted to spend extra money at the gas station (although I am a sucker for QT’s iced tea…).  😛

How to decide on the amounts for each envelope: 

Some categories, such as “gifts for friends and family” will change every month, so it’s important to have your calendar nearby so you can check and see what needs you’ll have for each category in that specific month. We had 3 family members to buy birthday presents for this past month, as well as a gift for a baby shower, but some months that number will be a lot less.

We also went through a simple inventory of our home supplies to see what was getting low (TP, paper towels, light-bulbs, etc.) and budgeted accordingly for those things. This entire “planning meeting” took us about an hour, so it really wasn’t too bad.

The next day, I went and withdrew the cash from the bank and put it in the envelopes.
Once the cash was in the envelopes, we wrote the beginning balance and the date on the back of each one. Then, when we went to withdraw money from an envelope, we would write that amount, (along with the date and the purpose for the withdrawal) and subtract it from the previous balance. This made it easy to track where our money was going!

Is it tough to say no to random shopping trips??

Several people asked me if it was tough not to spend extra money with this cash system, and yessss there were several times I found myself entertaining the idea of running into Target but then realized, “I don’t have cash for that!”  😛  (Target has some sort of magic power that tries to lure me in there even when I know I don’t NEED anything! Please tell me I’m not the only one.)

So, even though it was tough to say no to random shopping trips, it actually felt GOOD because I knew we had budgeted for the things we needed and anything else I would have bought was just going to be extra money that we didn’t actually need to spend.

Do you feel like you saved money with this cash system??

YES, definitely. To be honest, we were already pretty frugal with our money before we tried this system, but when we’d look at our bank statement we’d still notice random purchases at places like Target (guilty as charged…), Home Depot (ahem…haha!), and we also ate out more frequently than we realized, I think.

This cash system definitely helped us feel more aware of where we are spending our money, and there were several times we would talk about buying something and then realize we really didn’t need it.

Did the cash system take all the fun out of life??

Someone asked me this the other day when I told them about our cash-system experiment, and it’s actually a really good question. I did wonder at the beginning of the month, would this cash thing make us into miserly, penny-hoarding people who freaked out every time they spent money on something?

Surprisingly, though, it was quite the opposite! I actually had MORE peace about our financial state and I loved knowing that we were staying within a reasonable budget. We made sure to have envelopes for categories such as entertainment and eating out, so it wasn’t like we didn’t allow ourselves any fun! But by having the cash for those fun times built into the budget, it felt like we could spend that money worry-free because we knew we could afford it and that we weren’t overspending. It’s so easy to just swipe a card at a Starbucks here or a Chick-fil-a there and not realize how much it’s adding up over the course of the month. So knowing that we had a certain amount allotted in the envelope for such occasions was actually really freeing and great!

Will you do it again??

Yes!! We actually just had our “budget meeting” yesterday for February and it went even faster this time, now that we have a handle on what we’re doing. For now, we’re really loving this cash system and the way it’s helping us be more aware of where our money is going.

I listened to an awesome series of messages by Andy Stanley on finances about a year ago, and I remember one of his first points that he emphasizes before you dive into the actual nitty-gritty of budgeting and financial planning was, “You need to know WHERE your money is going.”

We did this about a year ago. We printed off the past 3 months’ statements from our bank account and went through with colored highlighters, categorizing our purchases so we could see exactly where we were spending our money. It was so eye-opening. I think purple was our color for “Miscellaneous Purchases” which basically meant random trips to Target or $20 charges at Walgreens that we couldn’t even remember what they were for, and when we added up all those purple transactions, it was crazy how much we were spending like that!

We’re not sure how long we’ll continue this cash system, but for now it is really helping us be more aware of our finances and better stewards of what we’ve been given.  (And it’s definitely helping me say no to the ever-tempting aisles of Target.  😉 )

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

Have you ever tried the cash budgeting system? Do you have any budgeting tips to share, that work well for you? 

Social Media vs. Real Life

Friends, I’ve been wanting to make a PSA for awhile now but haven’t known exactly how to say what’s on my mind. But today, I finally just decided to sit down and start typing, so here we go:

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that I love to post pictures of my little family. And most of the time these pictures are fun, happy ones that show you the highlights and great times of our life. That’s just it, though. You’re only seeing the highlights. Social media tends to be like that; most of us gravitate toward posting pictures of the date nights, Christmas parties, smiling babies, and the moments where we feel like we’ve got this whole life/parenthood/spouse/friend thing figured out.

I think (hope) that we’re all aware that social media is just a tiny glimpse into someone’s life, but it’s definitely easy to assume that the perfectly posed, Instagram-filtered photos are the way someone’s entire life is lived. I struggle with this a lot, because I enjoy taking and posting pictures so much and social media – Instagram especially – is like an online journal for me, a way to memorialize some of the fun adventures and highlights of my family’s life. But I also don’t ever want to seem fake or like I’m trying to project some false image that I “have it all together” (in case you didn’t already know: I DO NOT have it all together ?).

I never want to seem like I’m trying to project this “perfect life” on my social media. I’ve toyed with posting more “raw” photos of some of the tough times (like when my baby refuses to nap or I spill the entire contents of the vacuum cleaner bag all over the kitchen floor…those both happened last week?) but I also don’t want to be a complainer or use social media to broadcast all my troubles.

And the reason I’m REALLY gun-shy about posting about the tougher parts of motherhood is because of something that happened when I was pregnant. I had posted a “bump photo” of me at some point into my third trimester and talked about how excited we were to meet Lydia and how she was the size of whatever fruit or vegetable right now… and then at the end of my (very positive) post about my pregnancy, I made a lighthearted comment, “now if only my nausea would go away! ?”

…I was sick my entire pregnancy with nausea that would send me dry-heaving into the bathroom if I didn’t eat every 2 hours on the dot. (And sometimes even the eating didn’t help.)  I didn’t complain about it much at all, and my mention of it in my post was simply meant to be a lighthearted comment, not a complaint. However, a man that I didn’t even know very well but was somehow friends with on Facebook commented on my post, “Maybe if you thought about all the women who would love to be pregnant but can’t, it would help you not focus on your nausea.”

I was so upset over this comment. I felt HORRIBLE that maybe my post had come across as being ungrateful for my pregnancy, but at the same time I was also frustrated that this person had chosen to take that one lighthearted comment out of context of my entire post and then make me feel guilty for not treasuring my nausea. It didn’t help that this guy was a former missionary and he projected a very godly presence on Facebook, which made me feel like such a sinner when he put me in my place.  :'( 
Needless to say, that entire experience made me extremely gun-shy of ever sharing “less than happy” aspects of my life, and specifically of motherhood. Once my baby arrived and she was healthy and safe, I felt paranoid that if I ever posted anything about sleepless nights or crazy postpartum hormones, people would think I wasn’t grateful for my adorable little girl and how blessed I was to have her. As a result, I tend to post only about the positive, happy times of parenthood. The days when my baby naps, the house gets cleaned, and dinner is on the table when my husband gets home. But then I end up feeling fake and I wonder if people think I’m trying to act like I have this whole parenthood thing perfectly figured out. (Because I most definitely don’t.) But my dilemma is how to share honest, raw, and real life glimpses into my motherhood journey, without seeming like I’m complaining. Especially with motherhood, I feel like this is such a sensitive issue because there ARE so many women who ache with the grief of infertility or the pain of knowing they will never be able to conceive, and I don’t ever want to seem ungrateful for the amazing little girl God has given to Rob and me.

I’m not sure exactly what my closing summary is in all of this, but I just needed to be open with my Facebook and Instagram friends because I’ve been feeling for awhile now that I might be giving off the impression that my life is easy or perfect or that I never get grumpy and exhausted or snap at my husband or feel frustrated when my daughter wakes up constantly during the night. I’m tentatively hopeful that I can begin sharing more real life photos and posts in a way that doesn’t seem grumbling about my life but rather just being honest about the everyday struggles that we all face in this motherhood journey. And I also hope, after reading this post, you will understand that even when I do post the smiley, happy, highlight pictures, they are really just a small part of our real lives and if you spent a day with us you’d know we’re just as much of a mess as the next person. 🙂
I’ve really wrestled with getting off social media altogether and shutting down my Facebook and Instagram, but the truth is that I love photos… I love taking them, sharing them, making photobooks on Shutterfly for our coffee table, and photos are the way I capture our memories and milestones as a family. I’ve thought a lot (and had several conversations with Rob, too) about whether I’m posting on social media out of a need for approval and praise from others, but at this point I don’t think that’s my motive. (Ok, let’s be real, it’s probably a small part of my motive, but I think it probably is for all of us if we’re being honest with ourselves??) I truly do just love to capture our memories all in one place and every so often Rob and I will scroll way back in my Instagram just to relive some of those memories and talk about the fun we had on certain dates, vacations, hikes, and family nights together. So, I’m not planning to stop posting, but I want to be more open about the day to day ups and downs of my life, because I know when I see friends of mine doing that on social media, it’s encouraging to me to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t have it all together!! I’ve just been so gun-shy up until now about ever posting anything but “we are sooo happy and look at our big smiles and our lives are so great!!” because of what happened with that pregnancy post.  :-\

I hope this makes sense. I just needed to get this all off my chest. Thanks for reading! If you have any suggestions or things that have helped you use social media in an uplifting-yet-honest way, please share; I would love to hear your thoughts!

— Hope