Q&A: addicted to the internet

It's that time of year again–Ask Moxie Pledge Drive. If you think what you read here is worth the cost of a parenting book or a few lattes or a pair of sandals, please consider giving through the "Donate" button just to the left. Thanks! And read on for a truly sucky problem.

"Jane" writes:

"I think I'm addicted to the internet.  That's my problem, in a nutshell.

I'vealways kind of gone overboard with the internet.  When I worked outside
the home, I would get my work done quickly every day (my employers
always thought well of me and promoted me) but it was like…my
motivation was really just a desire to get the darn work out of the way
so that I could hang out online.  Read and write blogs and email, visit
social networking sites, etc.

Now that I stay
at home with my 2 year old son, I find that things aren't much
different.  I pretty much strive to spend as much of my day in front of
the computer, doing stuff on the internet, as possible.  I log in as
soon as I get up in the morning and often stay up far too late in order
to maximize my internet time, even if it means being sleep-deprived.
 This is starting to worry me, because being a good mom feels *so
important,* but I'm approaching it by just going through the motions,
you know?  I am an adequate mom, sure – I feed my child, get him
dressed, take him to playgroups, change his diaper, tend to his
immediate needs.  Nobody worries that my son is neglected or anything.
 And my son is very well-attached, we actually have a really close
relationship, so apparently I've done something right.  

I don't really play with my child at all.  Every now and then I'll get
on the floor with some blocks or some Play-Doh, but I'll be bored after
about 20 seconds.  The sad truth is, I kind of hate doing that kid
stuff.  I love it when he plays independently, so that I can plonk my
butt down in front of the computer again.

a lot of moms, part of this is exacerbated by my lack of social life.
 I am slowly building a network of local mommy friends (I just moved
here in September), but all my oldest and dearest friends live far
away, and we only "meet" online.  And I spend a lot of time on various
parenting websites connecting with moms there, too, many of whom I feel
more free to be "myself" around than my local mommy friends.  Part of
this is exacerbated by the weather – when it is warm, I do take my son
to the park where the internet is not a option, but it's not warm
today.  Part of this is exacerbated by our living situation, too –
we're apartment-dwellers and everyone else in this complex seems to be
childless 23 year olds, so it's not like I have a neighbor with a
toddler to socialize with just over the back fence, you know?

those excuses aside, though, in reality it seems that I simply don't
like doing the nitty-gritty of SAHM work (interacting with my child,
 playing with my child).  It was easier when he was an infant and I
could nurse him while reading a book, you know?  But thinking back to
how it was hardly any better in the workplace, maybe this is just a ME
thing rather than a SAHM thing?  Maybe I'm just too excited about the
internet?  And I just don't know how to fix it.  Every now and then I
try to limit my internet time (just when he's napping!  just one hour!)
but it never lasts.  I even bought an egg timer, but the timer broke
and I quickly convinced myself that was a sign I should go online as
often as I want.  Besides, when I do make myself get off the internet
I'm so bored so quickly that I end up tossing the child in the car and
just driving around, sometimes for hours, because even aimless driving
feels like more fun than playing toddler games.

my son has a pretty severe speech delay.  I can't help blaming myself a
little bit.  If I was the kind of mom who did crafts or sang songs or
made alphabet charts or *taught* my son anything at all, maybe he would
know more words.  Maybe if I didn't waste so much time in front of the
computer, he would know more words.  So every now and then I say, "I'm
going to do better, I'm going to teach my child!"  Only to find my
willpower totally crumbles.  Then I see so many of my mommy friends
casually and cheerfully *doing* stuff with their kids all the time, and
I feel so inadequate.  Sometimes I think my son needs to be in daycare
just to get some darn stimulation.  But I'm pregnant with #2, so going
back to work is not really an option right now.

I guess I figured I'd write to you, because if I was going to find any other moms who have been there, it would be here…"

Oh, Jane. I'm so sorry.

It sounds to me like there are two things going on, one worse than the other. Let's start with the big kahuna: internet addiction. You obviously have a history of being addicted to the internet, and it sounds like you've figured out that you really can't control it anymore. (Your story of convincing yourself that the timer breaking was a sign would be funny if it wasn't so out-of-control.)

Some people would make this about the internet. The internet's so evil
and compelling, blah blah blah. But this isn't about the specific
properties of the internet–it's about addiction. This is the same as
if you were watching endless episodes of "Law & Order" all day, or
playing poker online, or eating sugar constantly, or smoking pot all the
time. It's about the way you're trying to find something to connect
with because you're not able to connect with your real life, and the way you're trying to make yourself feel satisfied and normal and OK, but it's only with this one activity that you feel good.

Addiction is sometimes a form of self-medication. I wonder if you have a mood disorder or something else that you're using the internet to medicate against. The affect of your email, and the way you describe the rest of your world–parenting, friendships, etc.–sounds so flat and you sound so disengaged from it, that it makes me think of the times I've been in depression. I wonder if you've got mild depression, anxiety, or some other mood disorder that you're treating the feelings of by going for the internet rush. (Skipping sleep to be on the internet is another big sign to me that you're treating something else going on in your brain.)

If you've got something going on with your brain chemistry, then you're not going to be able to go cold turkey off the internet, or even back off very successfully. You need to treat the cause of your addiction so you can get a foothold in stopping it. (Note: I'm suggesting the following plan because Jane's addiction is ruining her quality of life, but isn't physically dangerous for her to continue for a couple of weeks while she works on it from the other end. If she was addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, or anything else that was physically dangerous I would NOT advocate trying to stabilize her brain chemistry before she started weaning off the addictive object.)

I want you to do a couple of things, and then report back in to us in two weeks:

1) Tell someone in your real life that you're addicted to the internet and are going to need emotional support to get off the addiction. Yeah, this conversation could be tough, depending on who your choices are of people to tell. But, look, you told me. And you're telling all the readers. And you're not lying to yourself. If there's no one in your real life that you can trust with this or who will take you seriously, then just skip to step 2 and come back and look at it again in two weeks.

2) Support your brain nutritionally. Every day you should take all three of the following supplements:
* 2,000-3,000 mg of fish oil or flax seed oil (as oil or capsules),
* two droppers full of B-complex vitamins (you can get sublingual drops from any drugstore or big box store) spread out at different times of day,
* magnesium, either by itself or as a combo calcium-magnesium supplement about 20 minutes before you go to bed.

3) Go outside first thing every morning with your son, and walk around briskly for 20 minutes. If it's raining, dance or do something else that will raise your pulse rate for 20 minutes. Do this in the morning to set your internal clock and to get some sunshine into you (if there is sunshine where you live).

4) Make an appointment and go see your doctor, and tell her/him that you're not taking joy in normal daily activities. Mention that you're upping your nutritional supplementation and exercise, but ask about screening for depression, anxiety, ADD, and other mood disorders, as well as a thyroid level check.

5) Realistically look at your diet and find any culprits that may be making your brain chemistry cycle worse. There's a reason people who go to AA meetings get addicted to the coffee and pastries at the meetings–it all hits the brain in the same place and soothes the same burn. But, ultimately, the caffeine and sugar can get you into a cycle of needing even more of those things and of your addictive substance (the internet, in your case). I'm not saying stop right now, but I am saying take a look and see if you're making your addiction worse by feeding it carbs and caffeine. (Obviously, if you're using alcohol and/or drugs that's making it way worse, too, but I think it's easier to be in denial about sugar and caffeine.) If you need to stop using carbs or caffeine you can do that when you're a little more stable.

I am betting that if you can do these things you'll start to restore your brain chemistry a little. Two weeks of supplements and sunshine and exercise could give you a little toehold, and getting checked out by your doctor could yield some other interesting information to help you move away from your dependence on the internet. Once you've got a little breathing room, it's time to address the second factor at play: the boredom of being a SAHM to a toddler.

Being a SAH parent to a toddler can be brutally boring. Toddlers are delightful and sweet, but their games and interests are repetitive (understatement). If you're the kind of person who is into this stage you can deal with it, but there are tons of us who just are not down-on-the-floor, building-towers-with-blocks-all-day kinds of parents. There's nothing wrong with that.

So please, if you're thinking "I don't like to play with my 2-year-old all the time," that doesn't mean you're unusual in any way. In past generations NO ONE WAS EXPECTED TO BE STIMULATING THEIR CHILDREN ALL THE TIME. Sorry to shout, but let's be real here: Expectations have changed, and they're not always realistic. One adult alone in a house or apartment with a small child all day is ridiculous enough without the added expectation that we be specifically teaching our kids stuff all the time. The whole flash card culture seems designed to make parents feel guilty and kids feel pressured, and doesn't seem to be resulting in more productive, connected, interesting people than we had back when it was enough just to be present with your children when they needed you and to interact with them throughout the day.

I could rant about this all day, but I'm going to bring it back to apply directly to Jane's problem of internet addiction: It's hard to kick an addiction to something when the alternative is something you don't find compelling. If there's no real payoff (in satisfaction or endorphins) to the official activity, then you'll rush through it to be able to get to your addiction.

That worked when you were rushing through your work at your job to get to the internet. But now, taking care of your child, it seems like you're misunderstanding the basic requirements and therefore missing the mark.

Let me explain: You've got the physical tasks down, and are able to rush through them to get to the internet. And you're doing an awesome job beating yourself up for not doing flash cards and getting down on the floor to play with toys or "teaching" your son to talk. But those aren't the central tasks of parenting. The central task of parenting is being there for your child. And by checking out by being either on the internet or wishing you were on the internet, you're not fulfilling that requirement very well.

The penalty for not fulfilling the requirement isn't that your son has speech delays, or that he's going to be behind, or even that you two don't have a bond. It's that you know that you're not the parent you can be. And that you're basically checking out of your son's life. This is about you, and who you could be, and what this addiction is robbing you of. It's robbing you of being present. It's robbing you of making connections with other SAH parents so you have support and camaraderie for the journey. It's robbing you of discovering who you are, and figuring out what your parenting strengths are if you don't like to play on the floor.

We do what we have to do. There are mothers who work three jobs to keep their kids in a safe living space and clothes and food, and they miss out on a lot of their children's childhoods. But they're doing what they have to do, and they're there to the maximum that they can be for their kids. Living with an addiction that separates you from your child, and you from yourself, is not something you have to do. You took the f
irst step by emailing me. Take the next few steps by telling someone else, supporting your brain chemistry, and talking to your doctor. You deserve better and you can have better.

Readers, I'm looking for support for Jane. Tales of getting healthy? Figuring out what you're good at if  you're not a playing kind of parent? How to find friends to pass the day with? Healing from a mood disorder so you can interface with the world again?

69 thoughts on “Q&A: addicted to the internet”

  1. Ug, I cycle through the same issues. It did get a lot better for me when my second child was a bit older as I was no longer the only one to interact with my oldest. The other thing that helped me with moods/depression was the feingold diet (we discovered it for my ds but it ended up helping me a ton.) Good luck mama!

  2. I definitely recognize what Jane is going through, and wanted to add a couple of tips. There are many programs that allow you to shut off access to the internet or to certain sites, or set time limits for access. One of these is LeechBlock, but there are many more. There are also plug-ins / programs that allow you to track how much time you are spending on the internet, or a site. These are kind of like the egg timer — you can ignore or override them — but at a certain point they may be useful to remind yourself of how much time you are spending.Also, I think there are ways to use the computer to make toddler play more bearable. When my kid is playing play-doh or doing crafts, I often bring my laptop to the table so I can do something but also interact with him or help him as need be.
    And finally, I don’t think I saw the library mentioned above — a good place for low-key interaction with other kids and moms, as well as a good activity for days with not-great weather. If you have a local college or university, they often have small-scale museums suited for a toddler attention span, or just nice places to walk around observing things. I wonder too if breaking your current pattern wouldn’t help a lot — as Moxie suggested, getting outside for a walk, then figuring out a morning activity outside the house would get you to lunch internet-free.

  3. Oh boy, I’m not sure where to start with this one. Jane, you’re in my tribe!I discovered the internet in 1991 and spent years dicking around on roleplaying games. Eventually I managed to flip it around – first I got a job working on the ‘net for a dot com, so I turned my skills marketable at least, and then from there I started to do other things. Work out, eat better, garden.
    I still cycle through things (and now my job sort of chains me to the ‘net) but I am so much more aware of both my issues and what to do that it doesn’t last too long.
    And that’s kind of the trick I think; in addition to Moxie’s excellent ideas, you need to find something to replace the ‘net with. And the downside to that is that with a two year old, it’s kind of hard to get any time whatsoever that is more appealing.
    So my additional recommendation would be that you need to align your partner or other support systems in a way that you get 3 hours together in a week (a weekend afternoon? An evening out?) that is all yours, and that you fight through the boredom/adrenaline rush/draw of the internet during that time (do not bring laptop; do not hit internet cafe or library computers) to breathe and rediscover some passion or bliss that is not connected to online.
    And then let that little kernel of passion you will eventually find in the silence – dreaming about it, doing it with your kid hanging around, whatever – inform your life away from the computer.
    Another thing is that when I was on the ‘net I was dissociated from real issues in my life to do with abuse and anxiety. So I had to deal with those. But it was a chicken and egg process process for sure.
    (BTW, I still deal with anxiety this way a bit; I’m posting here before I attack something at work that requires me to make decisions. It’s a bit sad, but it does work for me – in small bits.)
    One last thing: For me, when my son was around your child’s age but a bit younger, I had the epiphany that no, I was not happy being a SAHM. I simply wasn’t. Acknowledging that and doing something about it (but mostly the realization) really helped me.
    I had always had a strong commitment to trying to keep our family life “calm” and “child-centred” and I had a lot of preconceptions that I had to be home in order to do this, specifically that only part-time work could align with that goal. But it turns out that like so many things in parenting, I was a little bit right and mostly wrong.
    But it takes some space to figure things out and I would encourage you to really, really, really carve out three toddler-free and internet-free hours a week to wander neighbourhoods and malls and stores and galleries, breathe, stretch, and reconnect with all the wonders of the world beyond the screen.

  4. I remember getting more involved in my online life at that stage. My thyroid levels were fluctuating, and I became depressed. The depression stayed even when the thyroid was back under control.I too don’t like playing childish games.
    My main contact with friends was online and so I spent more and more time on the internet.
    Things that helped turn that around:
    1. Getting a children’s science museum membership (other types of kids’ museums would probably work just as well). T found things he liked to play with and children to interact with. Some of the exhibits interest me; some of them don’t. I can sit and read a book or knit or sometimes talk to congenial strangers. Or talk to T about the exhibits, depending.
    Walking down to the park frequently was a similar thing, with the added bonus of enforced (slight) exercise.
    2. When T was three, we started making a rag rug together. At around four, he started taking an interest in knitting and spinning yarn with a spindle (one of my other hand crafts). He’s not very competent at either of those, but he’s starting to get the basic idea. I don’t push–when he’s done with a particular session, he’s done, and we put those crafts away until he asks again. Those are all things we both enjoy that we can do together. Obviously, that’s not so helpful with a two year old.
    3. One of the biggest things that helped was acquiring a group of friends who meet weekly and whose bond doesn’t involve parenting. In my case, I found a group of other people (through the Internet!) who love fiber arts (knitting, crochet, spinning, embroidery, etc.) who meet on the weekend. I’ve become good friends with the other members and see them regularly outside of meetings, too. My husband understands that this is a lifeline, and has set aside the meeting time in his schedule as one of the times when he does childcare, so that block of time is almost always available.
    4. I found ways of getting a little bit of childcare so that I could get some time to myself during the day. My mother happens to live in town and watches T one morning a week. There’s a family in our neighborhood with a child the same age. For a while, we did reciprocal child care. One of us would watch both for a couple hours one week while the other did the next week. Even those two small respites let me get time to myself when I could go out.
    5. I got a (very) part time job and T went to a part time child care (hard to find).
    5. When I finally realized that the depression wasn’t going away, I went to the doctor and got a prescription for anti-depressants.
    The depression is still not quite under control, but it’s a lot better. Having several close friends who live in town and help get me out of the house is the major thing that got me off the internet, aside from the anti-depressants. (Well, of course I’m still here, but not so obsessively.)

  5. Just a quick red flag warning…Jane, I could be way off base, but you mention many of your relationships except your partner.Also, I hate the toddler games, too. I try to focus on short bursts of activity, spaced throughout the day. (I work out of the home, so this is mainly for weekends.) And I make sure I have an escape built in, such as, we’ll play this game for now, then I’ll make us a snack.
    Good luck to you. Oh, have you always felt like this, or has the problem gotten worse since your pregnancy? I’m wondering if there’s any ambivalence to the aspect of having two kids. Or if the hormones are exacerbating the issues at hand.

  6. Jane thank you so much for sharing. wow i went throught the same type of internet obsession thing on my mat leaves.I don’t know very much about addiction so I can’t really comment on that but definitely relate to the feeling about not fitting the ubermom ideal that seems to prevail on the internet.
    I cringe thinking back i remember all the times i jiggled my fussy baby on my lap just to read some other mother’s report of all the wonderful montessori activities/homemade crafts she was doing with her kids, instead of tending to my own baby.
    Eventually I started recognizing that I had anxiety problems when I did get out of the apartment with my baby so I would try my best to avoid going out. Thankfully my partner saw this and helped me get to a therapist a few times which helped a ton (I was very skeptical but also knew I needed help). The fact that you wrote to Moxie asking for help is huge…keep asking for help from supportive people in your life – ask someone who loves you to make some calls for you.
    I definitely second Moxie’s suggestion of supplements and vitamins. After visiting a naturopath she suggested various vitamins and minerals and life is SO amazingly different!!! Life can be a happy & positive experience? Who knew?
    Staying at home with kids is a strange thing – so exhausting and overwheming and I always found that in the back of my head I was supposed to be doing so many things to make my baby a genius then i realized – hey no one I know is a genius and not loving reading a board book 5 times in a row doesnt make you a bad mom. Instead maybe you can start activities that you want to do (not involving the computer) and bring your baby along (cycling, running, mom & baby yoga, dance, swimming?) – he will love it and I think it might give you confidence and a reminder of who you were before baby.
    Wishing you well!

  7. I agree with the things that Moxie has said.I also think you sound depressed to me. Checking out of life, even if you don’t feel “sad” can be a symptom.
    I couldn’t stay home all day with my son (Two). It would mean, without a doubt, he would end up with a mom who didn’t want to engage him etc. As it is, I have a few really good hours with him each day and we laugh and play and it is enjoyable. But on the weekends when it’s just me and him because my husband is working all day? Ugh.
    I think something that MIGHT help, in addition to what moxie suggested is coming up with a schedule.
    So, on Sunday or whenever, sit down and decide what you are going to do each day.
    7-8, dress breakfast etc.
    8-9 Walk
    9-10 Snack/library
    10:30-10:45 Sit on the floor building towers. (hey you hate it, so only do it for 15 minutes)
    blah blah blah.
    At work, you seemed to have tasks to accomplish and you were able to accomplish them. Maybe you’ve already thought about this and maybe you tried it already and it didn’t work. OR maybe you thought about it and abandoned it because you thought it might work and then it would take you away from the thing you want so much (the internet in this case.) So I agree with moxie, you need to get your brain going right and then maybe add in this scheduling later. Staying home with a toddler is a full time job, so set yourself up with some tasks.
    Jane, I feel for you, as I’ve spent many days on weekends alone with my son jumping up and down on my lap watching TV and me reading a book… so I’m OUT about that now. I hope for your sake you can manage this, so you can have some joy.

  8. Was just thinking about this the other day, when a mom of both a 2 and a 3 year old boy came to visit my 2 year old boy and I. For the most part she played with her children while J and I watched her (he was sick so wasn’t in a playing mood.) She is a lovely woman so no criticism here, but this is the second person I met who made me realise that I am not that kind of mum! when I meet another mum I am so much more happy to see the kids running off playing together so we can have a chat. And I love playing with my little boy but there are some games that drive me insane, and I HATE PLAYGROUNDS! there, I admitted it. A long time ago, I gave myself permission to be who I am and to source people who fill in the gaps of things I don’t like so much. I don’t like mother and baby groups at all, but after worrying about my son’s interaction with other kids I booked him into creche 2x a week for 3 hours at a time. This has been transformational for both of us, as a lot of his social needs are met and on the days we are at home together are then truly at home days. I get to do whatever the hell pleases me for those 3 hours. I also found some hobbies as previous posters mentioned, cross stitch and painting which I do when I get a spare moment. I also started a distance learning course, which might appeal to Jane as it is all conducted by post and email and there is interaction with tutors and students in the same way _ maybe more focused internet usage? A lot of these things have been suggested already, but I just wanted to chime in and let Jane know that lots of people have the same feelings as her and I am sure she will work out a solution. And I bet her kid is just happy to know she is around when he needs her!

  9. Everybody has some great suggestions — the one I’ve tried, that WORKS, is deleting programs/profiles/etc that are time-suckers. I whittled my RSS feeds, site memberships, etc. to only those that are truly valuable and relevant. The total is 7 RSS feeds and 2 email accounts — one for communication & one for junk. That’s it.The main thing I wanted to say is good on both Jane and Moxie for naming this and acknowledging it as a legitimate problem. I think internet addiction is pervasive in our society, to the exclusion of genuine IRL relationship. IMO, social networking sites are a huge culprit. It’s good to see not eveyone thinks this is a good thing.
    The other thing about being a SAH parent is that it’s a JOB. That means WORK, and who loves work all the time?!? It’s just as much of a job as anything else — it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to loooove every minute of it. But you’re not going to loooove every moment of a paid job, either. I’ve found giving staying home the same legitimacy / consideration as I would a paid job helps me be more diligent about it and feel better about not loving 100% of it. Just because you don’t love 100% of being a SAH parent doesn’t mean you’ve failed at it or that it’s ‘not for you’ and you should run out and get a 40-hr/wk job. Maybe it just means there’s work to be done, just like with every other real, imperfect thing.
    Hang in there, Jane. Even just naming the problem is a step toward solving it, which you will soon be well on your way to doing.

  10. Oh my goodness, Jane, I’m so sorry…I agree with all that Moxie said, and I hope some of the tips help. I have a two year old as well, and I agree that playing 2 year old games is less than exciting. I tend to be a bit obsessive about cleaning and tidying and the whole bit, I don’t think it’s at the point of addiction, but I do have a lower tolerance for messes than most people so I find I’m doing it all the time. One thing I found is that I can actually involve my son. If I’m doing laundry, he loves to pull up his stepstool and throw items into the washing machine. He will sit on the counter “washing dishes” while I stand in front of him, unloading the dishwasher. He likes to take a sport water bottle, spill water on the tiles, and then use an old dish towel to wipe them up. I guess what I’m getting at, is maybe you can find something that you enjoy doing that’s not online, and find a way to involve your child, instead of thinking that the only two options are to be online or to play toddler games. Hang in there, I’m sure the other readers will also have lots of insight for you.

  11. I am Jane. I do work full time and rush thru my work to get to my blogs.I hate ‘playing’ with my kids (I have three boys ages 5 and under). Oh, and my second child has speech apraxia (a speech disorder also)!
    I have moved my laptop into my bedroom (I am a scrapbooker also, and that is my crafting space …. except I don’t craft, just surf….) and that has put a limit on my internet time at home … I only get on once the kids are in bed. So I guess that has helped me some.
    I take Prozac … I had PPD after my first son was born.
    Oh, and I tend to read books while they watch TV too (I just saw the commenter above me!)
    I too do not really connect with ‘real’ people. I am a loner I guess. I would like to meet people, but to me? It is too much trouble to carry on a conversation. Here in ‘blog land’ I read a person’s thoughts, leave my two cents (or dollar’s!)worth and I am DONE.
    No, I don’t really have anything to add, I am just glad Jane wrote in … opened my eyes some! Thanks.

  12. I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, which I’ve been dealing with for years, but it hit pretty bad this winter (thanks to pregnancy in addition to a high-energy toddler). I completely wanted to check out of everything, and I spent a lot of time playing mindless games on facebook, rarely engaging my daughter or even people on the internet. So I definitely can see the warning signs in Jane for some sort of mood disorder.The difference for me is that I actually LOVE the toddler age and want to be playing with her, but I didn’t have the energy or ability to engage with her to play with her. I also work full time, so I didn’t even need to be engaged all day, just in the mornings and evenings, and even then I just couldn’t do it.
    What helped me the most (and is still helping) was to talk to the doctor and find a medication that worked for me. The other things I did to help me when I was feeling my worst was to tell people how poorly I was doing and ask for help. By having family and friends help me with things around the house, I was able to at least save my energy to focus on my child and husband. But even then, I wasn’t really engaged, which brings me back to step 1: talk to the doctor and find a medication that worked.
    Also, I take fish oil supplements, multi-vitamins and vitamin D supplements. They really do help.
    The only other thing I can add to this is that we all have stages we enjoy more than others. I did not enjoy much about the infant/baby stage. I love the toddler/pre-school stage. But you may love the elementary school stage where they can communicate and interact on an older level. Don’t beat yourself up because you don’t like getting on the floor and playing silly toddler games!
    Good luck, Jane. I’ve known others with internet addiction, and I know it can be so hard to deal with, and near impossible to do on your own. Perhaps a good therapist can help you with the addiction?

  13. Oh, I do think finding something you like to do and doing that with your baby is a great idea! I like arts and crafts, so I should do projects with my kids … one tiny problem … my hubby hates messes (OCD) so that is usually a big battle of making sure nothing gets messy. Not too much fun actually.I guess I need to work on this some myself.

  14. I agree with Moxie about getting outside every morning, taking supplements, confiding in someone, addressing the addiction.There were a lot of boring, lonely times that I had never expected with my firstborn. Joining several playgroups was so important. And I second the poster that uses scheduling. If you have a day planned, you feel more confident starting the day and more proud when you look back on the day. And you really can handle 15 minute spurts of tower building, role playing, tickle sessions. They become less of a chore and more rewarding the more that one does it. It may feel mechanical at first, the planning, scheduling, sessions of deliberate play, but it will become natural.

  15. Wow, you’re me. Or I’m you. Except my kids are older and I tell myself that I USED to play with them when they were little. I think. And I probably did because I wasn’t so wired into the net back then.I need my online life b/c my real one is boring. I do feel somewhat depressed, and I’ll look at Moxie’s suggestions there. The days that I’m out of the house and busy end up feeling the best emotionally. I’m worried about going back to work and avoiding looking into the issue, but I think it’d be good for me to get out at least for part time work.

  16. I just quit Facebook. I didn’t have an addiction, but something about being a SAH mum made it more isolating to be in touch on a virtual level. But I can totally understand the pull of the computer; the boredom, repetition and just sheer loneliness of life at home with a pre lingual kid make the pull of the world wide web strong.Something that help me get out of the house is scheduling classes in the morning for my toddler son, like music and dancing etc. Also identifying the things you do like doing with your son; perhaps going to the pool (that will include exercise, which is great for endorphins ) a museum…cleaning (my son loves to clean too!) It doesn’t have to be play doh and blocks, there’s so much for you to explore together.
    Good luck and congratulations on identifying the problem and seeking help; that’s a big part of the job accomplished!

  17. I haven’t read the rest of the comments yet, so sorry if this is a repeat. I can not, repeat, CAN NOT stand to be in the house with my child all day long. I do want to be a stay at home mom, but I can’t entertain her by myself all day (with commute my husband is gone about 12 hours a day). We find things to do all morning long, come home for lunch and nap, then usually go outside and/or do errands until daddy gets home. Believe me, there still ends up being some play on the floor time (after lunch, before nap, after nap), but not all day long.One of my greatest finds is a mommy and me exercise group. In my location it’s called Stoller Strides, but it comes under a lot of different names. Then we often do play groups with those mommies afterwards. We also do swim lessons, gymboree, library story time (free) and this free singing program that our local mall offers.

  18. Sorry, no time to read the comments, though I’m sure they are fabulous as usual.One of the things that I am spotting here is based on my current reading, which is actually on personality type (Meyers Briggs).
    I addict to computer games so fast that I have a rule that I just cannot start playing them. We have kept the *kids* off computer gams for a long time because of *my* addiction issue with them.
    I also cycle through compulsive internet time, and it is in many ways what Moxie is talking about – reaction to baseline mood imbalance. I can tell when I’m cycling, and ep can tell when I’m cycling, and we generally find that I also end up grouchy and impatient with everyone else at the same time, disengage with the world (or the aspects that are the most challenging for me), and distract myself from re-engaging with the harder parts by submerging myself into something else (blogging, posting here, etc.). Anyone notice that my posting here has been a LOT lately? Guess what – I’m adjusting my supplement balance, and haven’t found the right balance again. Yet. When I’m totally on top of the supplements, I post at a steady but not quite so *frequent* rate. I skip posts or skip days, because the day itself does not contain space or energy in which to pursue that activity. That’s the normal version – variable. (Though there’s also been a lull at work, and I am way more triggered by the job than anything else, since it plays to every blessed one of my strengths – from my perspective, ‘almost a bit too much’ and from ep’s perspective ‘probably WAY too much’. I’m addicted to feeling satisfied by the full and successful expression of my most native and most well-honed talents? Serious dopamine rush, there.)
    Normal allows for variation. Abnormal is when my mood is not properly elevated and I get stuck in only one response to the same conditions. We (ep and I) in fact had the discussion yesterday – that my mood has slipped, I’m grouchy, I’m reactive, I’m a little hyper at times (I drift toward very slight bipolar behavior, though every doc has said it is so close to normal range it isn’t worth medicating for), etc. Gah. Fortunately, ep knows the pattern, and I’m self-aware enough that if he says ‘um, I’m seeing a pattern here’ I don’t tend to snap into denial mode. It’s more a wince and agreement. He actually waited for me to come to him and say ‘I think my supplements area not quite in the right balance/quantity’ on this go-round.
    BUT, back to the personality type thing. One of the things that the Type Talk book addressed that I thought was really useful is that everyone procrastinates, period. EVERYONE. We each procrastinate on the aspects of life that are our weak areas. So some will procrastinate on getting life in order, and some will procrastinate on emotional issues, and some will procrastinate on social challenges, and some will procrastinate on thinking about the future/making plans, and so forth. When we feel particularly out of our depth on something (especially if it is personally painful to deal with), we get more and more creative about the procrastination, and that can create an opening for the addiction process, IMHO. Me, I procrastinate about structure and order and completing tasks (exactly what would be expected of someone with my personality type). Understanding that this is what I am doing helps me find methods to manage those ‘challenge areas’. I still need the mood support to get there, but it is also not a ‘fault’ thing on what I avoid, it is a ‘strengths and skills’ thing. Over time, we’ve worked out that ep helps set up my process for completing the tasks that I struggle with, helps me break them down into not-scary/not-overwhelming bits, and then I am better at getting through them. But it is a definite ‘ask for help’ situation (I’m learning as we go, but it is always going to be non-native processing for me).
    So, the SAHM thing. There are people who enjoy that endless sitting on the floor playing tea party. My mom, for one. She is perfect (personality-wise) for that activity. Loves it. It makes my brain fry in about 2 seconds, and I can hold it together for about 2 minutes, but my brain is already leaving the room long before that point. There are some kinds of play I do fine with, but listening to endless wandering pretend conversations is not on the list. My strengths are emotion-based conversation, problem-solving social issues, and exploring concepts in both the abstract and concrete. I can go for walks exploring the natural world, and love it. I can talk about social issues at school. I can help negotiate whose turn it is to have the book both Miss M and Miss R want to hold. I’m good on those. They’re smack-on for my strengths. Woo. And they’re about 2% of life. Everyone is going to have their real solid areas, and a lot of miss.
    Acknowledging that a) mood and b) personality strengths are players here may help keep it from feeling so icky, and make it easier to address where you’ve ended up. You will have to manage the addiction, because it is masking other things and interfering in how you live and how you want to live. It may be that you do have to do a total avoid (like me with computer games – I cannot start, period, because I will stay up to 2 AM and forget to shower, eat, or go to the bathroom if I get started). It *may* be enough to can find tools that control your access (There’s a firefox app/plug-in that locks you out of sites except at specific times of day, and doesn’t let you go and edit the controls, too. I’ve used that when I’ve drifted that way, though it is not a solution so much as a stop-gap while I get my supplements balanced again.). It may be that you need a long vacation from the internet in order to re-set your skills and balance your mood and attend to your life – I have had friends (online) who have done that for 2-3 years at a go, who were so sucked into message boards or blogs that they lost track of their own lives, took a LONG break, and then came back later with a greater capacity to maintain limits (after growing new skills and finding new ways of handling their unmet needs, etc.). A few months is never enough, from what I’ve seen.
    If you are a ‘get things done’ person, the idea (which I see above the comment box) of scheduling play sessions may work well for you. The trick is that you have to figure out how to intersect your skills with your child’s needs (based on their personality, too). (I don’t have this book, but it looks like a good resource on parenting with your MB type in mind: http://www.amazon.com/MotherStyles-Personality-Discover-Parenting-Strengths/dp/0738210455/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1238161935&sr=1-12 )
    Figuring out your way of parenting is along the lines of finding the right ‘job’ for your parents as grandparents. I’m not a sit-on-floor-and-play mom. I’m not an arts-and-crafts mom. I am a ‘let’s go outside and garden’ mom, and a bunch of other things, too. I’m too serious by half, so some of the things I want my children to have in their lives I’ve outsourced to relatives and friends and school, and have made intentional choices to find those things for my kids because I cannot ‘do’ them myself very well. I also try to expand my skills on my weak areas, too, so I’m not just dumping it entirely – but knowing that I am not going to have to cover every blessed micron of that need myself allows me some breathing room and way less pressure on providing it. So, I’ve learned to cook with the kids (something that was not natural for me), and I can get myself to where I can sit and do playdoh for an hour (on the rare instances that playdoh happens at all). I also have a timer for my internet time, and my kids have a cue for me to Pay Attention (hand on shoulder, also used at school) because I dissociate easily (always have, survival technique from my childhood).
    And. I have one child with a speech delay, and I can tell you that it isn’t all our fault. I also really do not do well at helping with the speech development process (I rather f’d it up with Mr B, actually, even with guidance, and his current teacher has had to un-do the damage I did trying to help). It’d be nice to feel like I helped. Only, no, I didn’t. Much better with the OT/PT help than the speech/language help. It’s a little ouchy knowing that I was one of the hurdles Mr B had to overcome, frankly. But as long as my mood is stable, it isn’t crushing. It’s *just* ouchy to not have those skills and to not be able to see when I’m mangling something until it is already mangled. At the same time, I know I’m imperfect, and so is he, and we forgive each other for that. My kids will tell me where I may not assist them, and I’ve had to be clear that this is okay, too. No one person can be the solution to another person’s every issue. For the sit-and-play (GAH!) stuff, my mom is the better solution. So is preschool. So are other kids. Me, not so much. For the speech development, my best bet is to sit back and let the efforts of others flow in without me trying to help at all. I will arrange for the other help, but … well, if there’s something I really have never mastered, it is how to coach speech practice without communicating excess expectations about success/failure.
    Anyway, hope that helps a bit. You are not alone.
    Now, back to the tedious part of work that I’ve been dodging (I have about five more hours of eLearning sessions to take… ugh.).

  19. Is there a SAHM who doesn’t relate to this post, at least on some level, to some degree? I’m not much into playing either, so I try to find things that I do enjoy doing with my 2 1/2 year old. Reading books together is my default when I’m not feeling creative (which is pretty much all the time). Go to the library and get a children’s librarian to introduce you to all kinds of books that are appropriate for your child’s level. You’ll like some more than others, but chances are that a good librarian can show you enough variety that you’ll find things you both actually ENJOY together. Children’s books can be delightful.

  20. Actually this same thing happened to me. I ended up in a partial hospitalization thing for depression, and we discussed things we do to escape. Some people said gambling or drinking, but I said the Internet. I still think I’m pretty addicted, but I also feel like as a SAHM it’s really one of the only realistic ways to stay connected to others during the day.I am wondering if the problem isn’t so much an Internet addiction (though of course I think a lot of us could use less screen time) as it is just an overwhelming guilt and need to escape. Which are both symptoms of depression.
    Jane, I wish I could be your real-life friend. Do you by any slim chance live in the Chicago area? And also, maybe there is somebody from Ask Moxie who lives in your area who could get together for a playdate?

  21. One thing I haven’t seen specifically mentioned is that when you are in a social situation with other moms, you might not see the real emotional situation. I know in my own personal experience that when I’m out with other moms, having something to do that I don’t have to wonder what’s next, I perk up. I am not majorly into playing with my kids. Even though I love reading books with them, I can’t stand reading the same book over and over.When I meet other moms for a playgroup I perk up because 1) I’m with other adults and 2) my kids are occupied without my having to do much. It’s so relieving to me. And yes, I feel guilty sometimes about that.
    I know I’ll enjoy interacting with my kids when they’re older, I used to teach junior high and I love the older ages. I’ve never been one to hold other people’s babies, never have been into the kids who are pre-verbal.
    Jane, just remember that even if the other women seem to have it all together, we don’t. Hang in there!

  22. Much sympathy for admitting that staying home with the children can be BORING. I spend too much time online. I wonder on an idle introspective level why naming Jane’s problem addiction bothers me. More about me than her.In efforts to spend less time online, don’t have a laptop or put the laptop on your desk. We had one when my oldest, now 7, was a baby. It was too easy to fill time. Of course, she objected by pawing the laptop all the time. And she was not a play by herself child at all. That drove me insane. It still can. But my time online didn’t help, I’m sure. My husband talked me into a laptop again. And I spent camp time last summer pregnant and web surfing. I don’t think I would have been doing anything useful – probably TV if not online. The older kids were at camp 2 hours a day and when they were home, I surfed less. But it is so easy.
    That baby is now 6 months and interested in the laptop. It has a spot on the desk upstairs and will soon be there all the time. I swear. LOL.
    Thought provoking. I think this topic always makes me defensive because I work from home, but only a limited part-time. So I check my email often and sometimes have short-notice work projects. And work is legitimate, but my own interests aren’t. Even though I should really say that neither work nor play should dominate when the kids want to play with me.
    I should stop rambling now. Today is no school. The 7 and 5 year old are bored. But we’re all sick and it is cold, so we’re trapped inside. And I need to put down the laptop.

  23. Jane, I don’t have anything on the internet addiction. Moxie’s advice sounded great to me.But I wanted to add my voice to those who are telling you that if you figure out that you aren’t meant to be a SAHM, that’s OK. Some of us just aren’t. I am a far better mother to my daughter when I am with her because I am not with her all the time. Our society sometimes makes it hard to accept that about yourself, but its OK if its true. My daughter is thriving in day care and we’re a happy, loving family.
    I also don’t think you should blame the speech delay on your mothering. You say your son is 2, but don’t say why you think there is a speech delay. If he does have a delay, I hope you can get some help for him. I’m sure some of the other comments will have ideas for that. But he may just be developing on his own schedule. I can tell you that in my daughter’s class at day care (all between 18 months and about 2 years old), there are some kids who are talking up a storm and some who aren’t. There is one little boy whose only word seems to be “Hi!” and he’ll be turning two in a couple of weeks. Kids start talking at different times. Girls tend to talk more earlier than boys.
    Finally, I know that if I did need to be a SAHM, I would need to have some regular playgroups or classes or something to help me entertain my daughter. It is HARD to come up with ideas on your own. Maybe signing up for a Mommy and Me class or something would help you.
    Good luck!

  24. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It’s awesome to be so honest about your life.I work part-time and have finally set things up so that I am enjoying the days I have with the kids (3 year old and 7 month old).
    We are out of the house almost all the time. We have membership for a local science museum, which I enjoy, and for the zoo (we have nice weather), which also gets us in to another local animal place. We go to 2 different tot play groups, and have cycled through various classes (gymnastics and soccer).
    I also have regular play dates with other mothers that I met through a local New Parent Group. I went there every week, without fail, and then started going out with other mothers for coffee afterwards. However, I am brutal about only hanging out with other mothers who are willing to share the bad days too.
    I try and have everything ready the night before – diaper bags packed and ready in the pushchair etc.
    When we are at home, I have NPR on the radio to get some outside information.
    I have also found reading child development books have helped me engage with the kids, because they help me notice the details. (“Einstein never used flash cards.” by Golinkoff)
    Take care.

  25. When depression happened to me, going through infertility and then after my first child, I was internet-addicted. But I went the extra step that Jane has not taken, and checked out all the way — I started an online affair. It meant that in order to justify my behavior, I had to disconnect from my husband and children and every other support system that might have helped (counsellors, extended family, church, etc.) It was the most miserable time of my life, split in half, no integrity left, no joy in anything.I got caught, I scarred my marriage, I had to rebuild from scratch with my husband and kids. Today, I have everything I have ever wanted and am blessedly happy. But it basically took what Moxie said, which was examining first my depression and second my unwillingness to engage in my own present life. The hardest thing I’ve ever done, and the best worth it, in the end.

  26. I’m still struggling with this issue and I want to warn “Jane” that it can be harder than it even seems to shake this addiction. I go in cycles where I do well with it and then when I don’t do so well (usually when life gets hard or there’s something I want to avoid, my internet use ramps up).An alcoholic can throw all the liquor bottles away, but we need the high-speed internet for my husband’s job – I can’t just throw the computer away (which I would do in a heartbeat). I am forced to learn to self-regulate.
    Moxie’s prescription is sound. Very sound. I will tell you what the single most effective thing has been for getting myself into a saner cycle with the internet: GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE. Into the sunshine, as Moxie says, ASAP in the morning. Go to a park, go to Starbucks, go simply anywhere and have plans to be “out” for a few hours.
    The challenge is coming back in. I have the best success at staying away from the computer when a) I feel connected to my child and thus guilty for plunking her down so I can get online, and the guilt actually keeps me from doing so b) the house is neat and orderly and I have a good system in place for how to keep it that way, so I find that I have actual real-life tasks to do that I *want* to do, to keep me away from the internet.
    The guidelines that work best for me are to not use the internet when my child is awake. That still leaves the evening and preschool hours to be on the internet to my heart’s content!
    good luck.

  27. Gosh, this is such a complicated issue–and I think Moxie has got great insight and recommendations for you, Jane. The vitamin supplements and sunshine certainly do go a long way for me. I am struggling with involuntarily becoming a SAHM after getting laid off, and being 6 months pregnant (which is not exactly saying “hire me!” to potential employers).I don’t have many “real” friends here, as I moved here 3 years ago and was a WFH’er for all that time, and did not make/have a lot of opportunity to meet local people, especially moms. There is a group here in the Bay Area called Las Madres which is geared towards getting moms and kids together for activities and playdates. It helps me to meet other moms, and it’s great for my son to be around other little kids. Plus, I don’t always have to be entertaining him when he’s at the playground, or library, or church nursery with a bunch of other moms and kids. It’s a nice break for both of us. I strongly suggest seeing what kinds of groups or activities there are in your area. Even if you’re not that social, it’s a good way to keep things interesting for your kid, and get out of the house and even to let someone else share with the heavy lifting of child entertainment.
    For me, activity begets activity. When I am sluggish or depressed and not doing anything, I tend to stay inert. But when I can pull it together to go outside with my son, or go for a walk, or to a playdate, I feel more alert and tuned in to both myself and my son. Getting out for at least a little while every day is crucial.

  28. jesus, hedra, sometimes i think you and i were separated at birth. i am so there with you with the cycling, oy. when you get the chance will you link that personality-type parenting/procrastination book for us? since i am of course right now procrastinating doing some reading for school that now is the perfect time for, sigh.jane, my heart goes out to you. i think moxie and the other posters here have given you some sound advice, that will hopefully get you over that first hurdle to make some changes for you and your family. parenting can be mind-numbing, repetitive, thankless work. there are days when i just can’t believe how much time i wasted wiping rear-ends and surfing the web.
    besides many similarities in my own experience that can give you some feeling of not being alone, can i also suggest that perhaps a part of the boredom/escapism is linked to not having your own “thing” anymore (ever?)now that you are a mom, or is more obvious now that you are home all day? it is so easy to lose a sense of what fulfills you, what makes you feel complete and worthy and gives you life. your kids will give you some of that, but not all of it. and it sounds like you’ve been searching for that for a long time before you had your son, anyway. we all have to find what it is that we are put on this earth to do- call it your passion, your meaning, your vocation, whatever. if you’re a creative person, perhaps it’s arts related. maybe you need to be challenged intellectually with a class or an issue in something and the readings that go along with it. maybe it is something as simple as a hobby, but maybe it’s something more challenging, like advocacy for a topic that really gets you worked up. but we all need *something* that is our life’s work to feel like we are doing more than just surviving. for some folks, parenting fills a big part of that for part of their lives, and for others, a smaller role. it takes a while to figure it out, and more likely, it’s a work in progress. good luck, jane!

  29. Oh dear. I seem to have misrepresented things somehow. Our problem isn’t that we don’t get out. We’ve had 3 playgroups so far this week, as well as our regular Mommy & Me class, along with all the errands/park/doctor appointments/miscellaneous stuff. I don’t think we CAN do much more 🙂 There is not a single day when I don’t have *something* on the calendar, usually 2 or 3 things.But something about it all is falling flat, and every day I still can’t wait to get home and on the internet. Whatever is on the calendar eventually gets done, and even if I enjoy it, I’m back on the internet as soon as physically possible. Avoiding the apartment as much as I can hasn’t solved the problem of wanting to “check out” from this dull SAHM life so badly. But I guess that all just comes around to what Moxie is saying about depression, though.
    Someone asked – I know my son is speech delayed because he’s been evaluated by Early Intervention. He’s in speech therapy now and starting OT next week. We also saw a Developmental Pediatrician, who ruled out autism, but his verbal development and some of his cognitive and motor skills are behind.
    Also, I didn’t mention my husband because I want this to be as anonymous as possible. He’s great, though.
    Thanks for all your wonderful comments. This really is a fantastic group of people.

  30. I’m addicted to the internet too, but I have just had to force myself to get away from it. My son is 3 1/2 and he doesn’t accept mommy sitting in front of the computer anymore. I’ve never been very social, but since being a SAHM I’ve had to get out of my comfort zone. Last year I decided I would “be vivacious” and stuck with it even when I felt stupid and unnatural. It worked! I have several new friends (many made through my local MOMS club) and we get out of the house a couple of times a day. I HIGHLY recommend looking into your local MOMS club or whatever moms groups are in the area. The secret to success is just showing up consistently and being friendly.I also highly recommend getting out of the house no matter the weather. I can’t stand playing toddler games, but I don’t mind bundling up and going for a slow walk around the lake. He gets nature, I get excercise. Fun for all.
    Actually, one thing that is a MUST in my life is excercise. I have my hour every day at the gym where he is with the daycare people and I am getting my endorphins going. It also helps a lot. Seems kind of backwards to connect to him better by getting away from him for an hour, but it breaks up the day and we both enjoy it and it’s healthy too (and I am most decidely not a skinny-mini health freak. I’m a plus sized woman).
    Spring is coming up so it should be a lot easier for you (and me!). Right now I am sitting here on the internet making a comment instead of going out to the playground. I need to get off of here and go out! Would someone please come make my kid put some clothes on while I finish his up?

  31. This sounds a lot like me. My daughter is 13 months old and I cannot handle sitting on the floor and “playing” with her for more than short bursts. Part of this is I don’t know what to do with her (she is a very active, extremely curious child and I’m a very low-key person – my idea of a good afternoon is reading a book, watching a movie, and yes, spending some time on the internet, but I don’t think I’m quite to the point where I’ve hit addiction, but maybe I’m getting there.)I am an extremely social person and I was really looking forward to being a SAHM because 2 of my best friends were also SAHMs for the last few years and I had visions of having mommy meetings and play dates with them and their kids. Unfortunately, both of them had major life changes within the last 18 months and they are now both working full-time. I don’t even have friends to talk on the phone to during school hours. I am left to talk to my internet friends and my adorable, but hardly verbal 13 month-old.
    Sorry for the rant. As this is about Jane and not about me, I’ll just say that I hear you Jane! I totally get how you feel and I’m also planning to take some of Moxie’s advice on the supplementation because – why not? It sure can’t hurt.

  32. @Jane, given your response, I’d say that definitely an eval for depression and/or OCD and/or other mood disorders is in order. The compulsive component of it is the core flag, as it seems you are aware.I would definitely check for possible bipolar aspects as well, because that compulsiveness can be part of the mania package.
    Another thing to check for is the ‘other’ PP disorders, as well – including PPOCD and PPAnxiety (all can start during or after pregnancy, and can continue from there without a break). They have different ‘flavors’ compared to the usual dimensions of those disorders, and often go undiagnosed. They may also bundle with PPD (I get a shifting pattern of PPD, PPOCD, and PPA, where they overlap in series). There’s a book called ‘Ghost in the House’ about Maternal Depression which I keep not reading, that may be useful (just the introduction was a huge eye-opener for me; never got past that part… sigh).
    It sounds very much like you are having a hard time getting enough endorphins or dopamine response to other activities, and the online habit provides that ‘hit’. There is no substance as addicting as your own brain chemicals, addictive behavior is just the trigger for it. (Serotonin and dopamine are both required for normal function, in balance.) Supplements may help a lot, but may also not be enough.
    Last question – were you an easy baby? Just curious, because people who were very easy, calm babies have a different response to dopamine than other people, usually have a hard time figuring out what they want to do when they grow up (no particular path seems to sing out, and no particular path seems all that bad); and they are prone to addictions later; and they tend to have more avoidant behavior related to relationships (like, oh, dealing with kids, stressful interactions with partners, etc.). It’s a genotype, though it can be managed successfully, too. It’s like ‘nothing lights up my brain’ for 99.9999999999% of life, and when/if something ever DOES, it REALLY lights it up and there’s still nothing else that comes close. Hence the tendency to addiction. (The genotype is present in 40% of the population or so, though its expression is affected by a lot of environmental factors as well. People with this genotype can be huge risk takers in a good way, as well, and are the gene pool’s ‘backup plan’ because they are also less prone to traumatized responses to crises in childhood – they are as unaffected by good parenting as by bad parenting, for example.)
    Anyway, just curious, there.

  33. ‘The whole flash card culture seems designed to make parents feel guilty and kids feel pressured, and doesn’t seem to be resulting in more productive, connected, interesting people than we had back when it was enough just to be present with your children when they needed you and to interact with them throughout the day.’Thank you for saving me Moxie. I’m definitely not one of those mothers and had recently thought I should be doing something more ‘productive’ than taking my kids for walks in the countryside or rides on the bike.
    There have been moments where I have been addicted, in varying degrees, to some substance or another. Alcohol, sugar, cigarettes. The only way I could manage was to cut them out altogether, at least for a while. I smoked for 10 years and would have liked to have been able to smoke the occasional ciggy, but knowing how I am, had to cut them out completely to beat the habit. Alcohol binging became a regular occurance until I quit completley for a couple of years. I still to this day do not buy ‘fancy’ biscuits or any candy as I know I will pick at them until they are gone. I know I have the tendency to get addicted, I just have to avoid certain things completely to stay safe. I lump the internet in the ‘alcohol/cigarette/sweets’ category. It is very very easy to slip into addiction mode.
    I am finally aware that I have a problem that I can get carried away with. When I had my first child I developed PPD and had intrusive thoughts that obsessed and haunted me. I soon found out that what I was suffering from was a form of OCD. Very scary, but finally a name for it. KNowing this has saved my life, really. It has explained so many things. Fortunatley, I now have it under control, but at the same time realise it is so easy to get suffocated by it.

  34. wow. this is totally me. and thank you so much for posting this question and addressing these issues. i am just getting on medication for depression and just beginning to realize that probably need to get a job outside the home and give my son the chance to spend more time with people who are actively engaged with him. and i need to spend more time with adults, stimulating my own mind so that i can be a better person when i am home with my family.i also spend hours on the internet, avoiding the world and reading about all the wonderful, crafty, wholesome, motherly things that people are doing with their kids, while my son tries to climb up the furniture out of boredom.
    it is so eye-opening to read that other people are experiencing the same things because all the women i know are so happy to spend their days stacking blocks and reading to their kids and i can only do it for a little while before i want to escape.
    now i am going to go back and read all the comments for more advice.

  35. On one tiny part of the problem, the speech: Sally Ward’s great Baby Talk book recommends half an hour a day of child-led play, between parent and child, no distractions, no background noise. You put a few toys out and commit yourself to following their lead and commenting on what they’re doing (The red block is falling over!) If you make a commitment to it, it becomes pretty rewarding – and even for non-speech delayed kids it seems to have nice effects in articulacy and bonding.

  36. I very much feel where Jane is coming from in the sense that I always ALWAYS feel I should be doing more with my 18 month old daughter. We rarely leave the house because I have absolutely no energy – just the thought of arranging our schedule to accomodate an outing exhausts me. I constantly wonder if I’ve missed some window of opportunity to teach her a certain skill because I was just too lazy. Even though I know she is very bright and exceeds her learning milestones at least in part to the time I spend playing/teaching her it is a continuous nagging worry in the back of my mind that I am failing her as a mother because I just don’t do enough. I worry that I will never have the energy my friends seem to have naturally to work full time, be amazing wives & mothers, run their kids to every activity & be involved in those activities and still seem to maintain their health/beauty and full social lives. What the hell is wrong with me that I can’t do this and they can? I have the first time SAHM feelings of isolation and depression. I am overweight and undermotivated, of course I have zero self-esteem, and my energy level is pretty much nonexistent.I kind of just surprised myself by spewing all that forth. I don’t usually talk about those things. And I certainly didn’t mean to make Jane’s post about me, but I do understand a lot of her feelings.
    A question for anyone… are the supplements Moxie suggested safe to use while breastfeeding? We have been attempting to wean and are down to just nursing for one nap and at bedtime. Thanks, everyone.

  37. Sorry, Jane – just saw your 2nd post about your activity schedule. It seems I have very rudely and selfishly made your post about me. While I do relate to some of your issues, especially using the internet as an escape and spending waaay too much time online, there are differences in our situations and I didn’t mean to hijack the thread for my own reasons.All the best to you. This is, indeed, a wonderful source for help. My apologies for interrupting.

  38. “There’s a reason people who go to AA meetings get addicted to the coffee and pastries at the meetings–it all hits the brain in the same place and soothes the same burn.”This really bothers me. Alcoholism is NOT THE SAME as being physically dependent on caffeine or eating too much sugar. Trying to explain how wrong that statement is and the sort of cavalier “take supplements if you are depressed/addicted!” idea is making me incoherent with rage-tinged disbelief.
    Mental illness and addiction are incredibly serious and can destroy lives. As helpful as I’m sure it can be to have a supportive group of women make suggestions on where to turn for help, that help is not here. These issues are beyond the scope of Moxie and the readers.

  39. What I hear here is that so many of us are desperately trying to carve out some space for ourselves, some time when we can remember what it is like to be “Jane” and do the things that “Jane” likes to do.In my opinion, this is an age-old desire the expression of which should not be suppressed.
    The thousands of generations of mothers before us did not have the Internet. Parenting can feel completely isolating and mind-numbing…especially when all you hear from others and the media is, “Isn’t it so great to be a mom??” The feeling of interconnectedness that can come from hours spent online can actually feel lifesaving. I know that this site, among others, *did* seem to save my life as I came to terms with what it means to have a child.
    Going to playdates is not the same experience as reconnecting with old friends. Do not assume that just because you are busy you should be happy.
    That said, the personal connections made over the internet are often false and unfulfilling. You can spend hours and hours trying to capture things that are not to be captured. It is a place you think you know and that can feel safe, and this feeling of protection can keep you from heading out into a place you do not know and having a risky interaction–a true engagement, not just a visit–with the real world.
    This is not a comment directed at Jane or any one person here in particular. It just seems like a thread that I feel running through some of the comments here.

  40. @AnonymousMe, The following are generally recognized as safe:Fish oil (very safe, very good, even!)
    Vitamin D
    Flax oil gets mixed reviews.
    Vitamin B6 in high doses can suppress supply, but otherwise has no negative impact on breastfeeding/etc.
    I cannot cope with bfing without fish oil, frankly – Omega-3’s drop to breastmilk preferentially, so you’ve lost a lot of your stores of them just from pregnancy, and then by lactation they’re sucked out again. Great for baby brain, not so great for mommy brain.
    I’d say that depression sounds about spot on for you, as well.
    I will say THANK GOD my friends are not like so many of these other moms. I have a few who are chipper and on the go all the time, but they’re also very realistic and they have never been prone to depression at all. The rest are scrambling the way I scramble, get just as desperate, wipe out as hard, and need mood support to function, just like me.
    Can I also add for those who feel they aren’t doing enough (guilt-mommy-guilt), that it is important to define the difference between regret and guilt? It is. Very. We tend to think in terms of ‘depressed = lazy and selfish’ instead of ‘depressed = biochemically unable to overcome inertia’ … the former makes us feel guilty and ashamed, the latter is just a reason to take action on the depression. I regret the lack of engagement I had when I was suffering from PPD. I regret the lack of activity, energy, drive, and other things that allowed my garden to be overtaken with weeds because I could not muster the energy to spend 10 minutes a day in the yard at that point. I regret all that. I have ZERO guilt over it. None, nada. I was suffering from PPD, and until I managed that, there was no energy for managing anything, no matter HOW important it was. Guilt served no purpose, because it wasn’t a choice to be unable to haul myself to upright, it was a health issue. The difference on supplements is astonishing, for me. That makes it all the more clear that I don’t need to feel guilt – regret, sure. Regret is clean sorrow over a loss. Guilt says we did it on purpose because we don’t care enough to bother to do better. Which is b*llsh*t, no?
    And it takes way more to fail a child than even a period of PPD can produce. Heck, my mom had horrible issues that required major psychological interventions, and she still didn’t fail me. She left me alone for long spans of time, but that is still not failing me. The only failure IMHO would have been not getting help at some point.
    That said, I absolutely have to have outside eyes on my process, because I will forget, and once I forget, I keep forgetting. I am not a compliant, orderly supplement-taker. I have to fill the dang pill case, and ep plunks a glass of water in front of me at breakfast (without comment or even lack of comment – it’s just one of the things he does, like cooking the oatmeal).
    I mentioned the other supplements I take on another post, maybe yesterday? Some of those may not be nursing-friendly, though.

  41. @AnonymousMe- fish oil is definitely safe to use while breastfeeding. In fact, my pediatrician recommended it (and later, fish oil for my daughter) because I don’t eat much fish.@Jane, I don’t think you misrepresented anything. I think we all just read our own experiences and knowledge into the posts, and so the comments reflect that. I was the one who asked about how you knew your son had a speech delay. I’m glad you’re getting help with that. I hope you can stop blaming yourself for it, too- from what you’ve described it seems like your son actually has a lot of stimulus in his life, certainly enough to support normal development.
    I think you need help for YOU, too. If it were me, I’d want some professional help sorting out what is depression/OCD/whatever, what is addiction, and what is a possible mismatch with your job (SAHM). Of course, I might need a friend to give me the kick in the pants to go get that help, because you never know what you need when you’re in the midst of something like this.

  42. @Brooke, I think that’s a fair concern. However, I think Moxie addressed the ‘seek professional help’ in item 4. It’s not ‘all but item 4’ but ‘all including item 4’.Supplements, activity, diet, and community can help support mood. They will not rectify everything for everyone. I think most of us are saying that here, but perhaps not loudly enough – Seeking professional help is ALSO part of it. I wasn’t clear, myself, on that – My care providers had a time limit on when the supplements had to show an impact – if they didn’t in two weeks, they were planning to go for bigger guns. I was glad that the supplements were enough within that time limit (I have a history of delayed clearing of meds from my body, weird pharmacokinetics), but I was also aware that there WAS a time-limit on ‘does this help?’ – and again, Moxie noted that as well – 2 weeks, no improvement = step it up a different level. Take away the confounding factors to see what is really under there.

  43. I think your Internet addiction problem is fueled by not liking this SAHM role. If I were in your shoes, I would set up a reward system for myself like you’d do for a preschooler or older child where you do this focused activity with your child for 30 minutes then reward yourself with 15 minutes of Interwebby time. Stretch it out a bit longer over time and save your bulk of online stuff for either naptime or after his bedtime. It’s like an Internet diet. You must stick to it, though!For the playing thing, my book recommendation for you is Cohen’s “Playful Parenting.” I really, really, really suggest a quick read-through!

  44. I have worried about whether I’m “addicted” to the internet, also being prone to heavy use at the expense of other activities, but for me I’ve found it’s more helpful to think about it in terms of attention/focus. I probably have adult ADD/ADHD (I have yet to take the plunge and try stimulants, but the professionals I’ve seen for depression inevitably say that what I’m reporting sounds an awful lot like it), and the internet lets me get a constant feed of the kind of stimulation my brain loves best, text to read and react to. Jane, it sounds like your internet usage also centers around reading and writing? And you were/are a big book reader also? (By any chance can you not stand podcasts, because of the insufferably plodding pace of someone transmitting information at the speed of *saying* it, without any of the interactivity that makes conversation interesting? Maybe that’s just me.)I like to think of it as a core positive thing that I’ve found a safe and satisfying way to meet my brain’s need to focus on something attention-absorbing. I mean, go me, good problem solving, I would no more go “cold turkey” on that than I would give up bread and hummus as my always-on-hand always-satisfying reasonably-healthy snack. The problem is when I start thinking “enh, I don’t want to make dinner, I’ll just have some bread and hummus” – it may fulfill the basic need, but it doesn’t fill *every* need. The struggle for me is finding ways to work with my brain in situations where I don’t have an automatic absorbing focus for my attention. I’m not a SAHM yet, but I will be Real Soon Now (4 days past my due date and counting!), so I read your post with GREAT INTEREST as a look into my own likely future.
    Some things that work for me:
    1) Lists. Anytime I find myself thinking “what should I be doing right now”, the answer will generally be “reading the closest readable thing”, where “closest” is often “the one that springs to mind first”, unless I have some sort of list of other options. I like to sort lists into categories like “instant gratification” (things that will take almost no planning or preparation and will show some sort of result immediately) and “needs a little more energy/patience”.
    2) Time limits. The great thing about “I will do this for 15 minutes and then stop” is that not only is my brain reassured that the boredom will end in a manageable length of time, monitoring what time it is and how long is left actually gives it one more thing to be engaged in doing and helps to soak up a little bit of that extra attention that would otherwise be flailing around looking for something to latch onto.
    3) Yoga. Yoga has been really useful for me in helping me practice being in my body in the moment without being desperate for that next hit of attention-stimulation. I would have rolled my eyes at this a couple of years ago but I really do think that there is an actual mental skill involved here, and the structure and commitment of a class setting helped me build that skill to the point where I started to be able to call on it more readily in the rest of my life.
    Managing my (probable) ADD is very much a work in progress for me – I still accomplish fewer things than I would like, day to day, and I spend a lot of time on the internet, and I think those are not unrelated things. Part of why I’m staying home with this baby (should it ever decide to grace us with its presence) is that when I was still working I had terrible problems with work/life/internet balance and I felt totally overwhelmed by the idea of trying to add a baby in to that – my hope is that not constantly draining myself to stay focused on boring stuff at work will make it a little easier to be present for my baby. At some point I should probably try to find some actual resources about parenting with ADD (anyone have any?).

  45. I could have written this when I was not working outside the home. I knew it was bad when I realized I was hiding time online from my partner because I was so embarrassed about it. It’s better now just because I have a job where I’m so busy most of the time that I just can’t web surf all day. I’ve gotten way pickier about what sites I do visit now. But if I ever have time off and find myself home with my son I start slipping back into it. I can still remember that visceral feeling that I was missing something when I wasn’t online. If I’d been away for a few days and a blog or message board post mentioned some internet brouhaha that I didn’t know about I would spend hours chasing down info and reading and commenting so I could be the one in the know. There was definitely some major OCD behaviors in it for me.I think all the suggestions are great. The biggest one for me is getting some physical activity in first thing in the morning. And if it were me I would try to do it by yourself in the morning while your partner makes breakfast for your son. Then you can start your day with a little alone time and feel refreshed when you start the day with your son.
    The next thing I would do would be to ask your partner to temporarily put a password on your computer and not give it to you. He/she can sign in for you and give you an hour in the morning or evening but the rest of the day it would be off limit. Do that for 2 weeks. It will suck. But I really believe that there is some compulsive behavior at play here and some of dealing with that is just breaking the habit of always having that be your go to activity when the slightest boredom sets in. When I was home full time the thing that helped me break the habit was that our cable got damaged in a big storm. It didn’t get fixed for over a week. the first two days without the computer I felt totally and utterly lost. It was BAD! actually the first day I took the bus to the closest internet cafe (I had no car and didn’t live in a walkable area so the isolation was pretty bad) But by the end of it I felt this huge relief. I don’t think that will solve your problem, but that time away will convince you that the world won’t end if you don’t know what is happening online. It may help you get a little distance and some clarity on the issue and it may get you back in the habit of picking up the phone to get that sense of connection that your online communities give you now. Good luck. It was a very painful time for me and I empathize very much.

  46. I was the kind of teenager who loved kids, truly, and nannied in college. Akmost all of my jobs, through college even, involved caring for other people’s chidren, and I loved them and did a great job. I even went to school to become a teacher.I was a terrible stay at home mom.I cried though, at the thought of leaving my children in someone else’s care, all day while I went back to work. I stayed home for three years.I had two babies. I SUCKED at being home with them, despite my best efforts, intentions, and even education and haevy reading on the subject of raising happy, healthy children. I was bored, lonely, depresed, distracted. I can’t tell you how much I spent at Target just to get out of the house. I went to playgroups, mommy and me events, gymboree, y swim classes, and met friends.
    I finally had to either return to work or lose my teaching position per my contract. I cried, I stressed, I prayed, lamented. I returned to work and put the kids in daycare, guilty and sad.
    And we ALL thrived. I forgot how much I loved my job. I forget how much I sucked. My kids were busy, happy, fed, rested if a bit hectic, and then I was a WAY better mom and wife when I was home. Who knew?
    Daycare is an aweful expense and a risk. If you find a safe, clean, active and happy place for the kids, they will be FINE. And you just might be the kind of mom who needs that balance to make you right the family equlibrium.
    Best, best wishes. You were honest way before I was.

  47. I am going to just share my experience and how it sort of took a different turn. When my son was 2, I remember thinking I was addicted to the internet. I had no friends and as much as I wanted to play with my son, I just hated it. I kicked myself for a long time. We also knew my son had a severe speech delay, but he’d catch up right? It couldn’t be autism, after all, he was extremely attached to me, affectionate to me and my husband. And his difficult behavior? Just the terrible twos, right?Wrongo. High functioning autism. And the reason it had been miserable every day? My son really WAS different, and my parenting experience was completely out of the norm, and not at all what I’d been prepared for.
    Not having any other kids, I had no idea the reason I was having a hard time interacting with him- was that HE was having a hard time too.
    he’s 4 now, and as his interaction has improved, so has mine. I actually have fun and can play with him. And the internet usage? Way, way down.
    I have no idea if your son has any of the symptoms of the autism spectrum other than speech delay, but I wanted to offer you a different perspective. That maybe it isn’t just you, if there is any chance autism could be in the mix.

  48. I hope Jane is still reading at comment 50 and counting . . .meetup.com has saved my sanity. Literally. I am lucky to have an awesome parenting group in my area, but many areas have them too. I’m also part of another local parenting group through yahoo groups and a third through http://momsclub.org/ Yes. I need all three, because I am you too. I am guilty of hitting refresh on celebrity baby blogs instead of reading another story (I almost posted this anonymously because ooooooooooh the guilt). I am guilty of clicking randomly just because . . . It’s a way of zoning out. I use my various parenting groups to break that cycle. At least 3 days a week, I have a commitment where other people are counting on us to show up. We need to be up and out of the house by X time, and it gives structure to our days. At first, it was really difficult, but it’s been a year now, and I am in a much better place than I was before. I tried all the various groups before I found the one(s) that worked best for us. I’ve supplemented this with a membership to a local kids activity center and story time.
    I struggle every day with the internet. I also struggle with a mood disorder which I spent years undiagnosed with. Prior to medication and therapy I just didn’t have the tools to break the cycle. I now recognize that the internet is both a trigger and a symptom for me. If I am depressed, I do it more, and it also makes me more depressed. I’ve started asking myself “What do I REALLY need right now that I don’t feel I can get?” Sometimes the answer is simple–a nap. Sometimes it’s a bit more complex–validation, physical affection, a mental holiday.
    Your brain may need something else to channel the energy towards. Knitting helps me tremendously. There may be local craft groups in your area where you can get a little break from baby time to reconnect with adults and find an outlet for nervous energy.
    Wearing my 18 month helps me a lot too. I feel like we are bonding even when I’m not in the mood for active play, she’s happy, and I’m getting away from the computer. Plus, I have a NEW diversion when I am on the computer. That’s a key for me–stopping the mindless computer surfing and directing that same energy towards productive computer use.
    Also, I work in the evenings, part-time, using my prior education. You could consider part-time work, going back to school (there are lots of student aid packages right now). You can even take online classes 🙂 I think perhaps you may need a job that you are truly passionate about to break the cycle. Look deep inside yourself and see if there are any dreams you are deferring. Things you think are impossible.
    I would not be in the place I am right now if I had not gotten help 3 years ago. It may take some therapy and medication to help you reach a place where you can contemplate taking some of the great suggestions you have here. If that’s the case, don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s not a failing of you, it’s a failing of your brain chemistry.

  49. Jane,I just saw your previous comment (took me awhile to wade through them and I wanted to be sure to post a comment). You are already doing so much good. That flat feeling is something I am so familiar with. Prior to getting help, it was near crippling. You are not alone. Just by getting out you are helping your son so much. You are not alone, and I hope that better days are not far off for you.

  50. First, playing with a toddler can be really boring. I sometimes have to make an effort to put down the book or computer or the phone and make eye contact and do whatever thing she wants for as long as I can take it. Some things we both enjoy more–like silly games on my lap, or hanging out in the hammock, or dancing/running/cooking/cleaning together, so I try to do those and be present with her for them, but sometimes you gotta play with Little People and be bored, you know? Anyway don’t feel bad for not being into that. You can always try narrating things in a way that’s interesting to you. Ooh, and try yoga. Little kids love that and you might have fun, too.I spend more time online than I should, but one thing that’s helped is some rules. I don’t visit certain sites at all now (cold turkey worked as well as reminding myself of, as with a message board site, how stupid and irritating it could be). I don’t force myself to comment on everything I read. I skip/skim. I try not to click links. I also try, whenever I’m online and my little girl wants to do something with me, to close the computer ASAP (doesn’t always happen). One thing that also helps is not using the internet at all when we are away (my family has a vacation home with no internet access) and realizing how I totally don’t miss it when it’s not there. Oooh, and if you find yourself just aimlessly looking for something to do online, just turn it off and walk away. Easier said than done sometimes. 🙂
    And having real-life friends and real-life activities (like you do) means just plain old less reliance on and time for the internet for companionship and entertainment.
    If you think it’s really an addiction more than a habit, and you think it’s really making your life worse rather than better, then of course consider some more formal help-seeking. I also recommend some time away from your kid outside of your house. Amazing what having a personal/professional life can do you.
    Best of luck.
    PS: I’m sure this has nothing to do with your kid’s speech delay.

  51. Mia C’s comment resonates with the experience of two friends (one online, one personal) of mine. I’m glad Jane’s seeing a developmental pediatrician, but I also know that sometimes it takes a while for the dx to ‘settle’ (it wasn’t until around 3 1/2 that a good friend’s son was finally aligned into a diagnosis – no speech delay, but a mild motor delay and cognitive issue that slowly resolved from ‘plays different’ to ‘doesn’t really understand how playing WORKS’). Whether it is ASD or not, just dealing with a cognitive/developmental difference is enough to flatten most parents I know.

  52. Moxie, you usually give stellar advice, but this time I feel that you have crossed an ethical line. You are not a professional and therefore cannot recommend that Jane take ANY chemicals into her body.You state that she “should take” nutritional supplements. You are not a Dr. You are not in a position to tell somebody what they should or should not do. This is very unethical and could cause harm to Jane, because all the information you have is what she emailed you. You do not have any information about her brain or body chemistry. Use your influential power for good, but as a voice of authority, you have a responsibility to do no harm.

  53. Thanks for being candid…sometimes it helps just to talk things out. Moxie gave solid advice and I appreciate the nutritional supplement advice. I take sublingual B Complex each morning. Did you know a severe B-12 deficiency can lead to fatigue and depression?Many moms worry that their under 3 y/o is not developing socially if not in daycare or preschool.
    Truth is; for the first three years YOU are his most important playmate. Developmentally, tots become interested in those outside their own family – and in making friends – around age 3, so don’t feel false guilt that yours isn’t going to develop normal social skills because he’s not in daycare now. Sure, a day or two away could give him and you a brief break, but you’re still a good mom if your under-3 tot stays home with you all day.
    As for your son’s speech delay, here are a three ideas:
    **Always have his ears checked for fluid in the canal. He may not have a full-blown infection but, fluid in the estachian tubes can impair his ability to clearly hear all the sounds. Children repeat what they hear, so if he hears garbled sounds, he repeat garble. I’ve seen little ones with speech delay simply because they’ve had chronic ear infections and/or fluid in the canal.
    **Be a good speech model by articulating your words. Children imitate their parent’s speech. When your words are clear and distinct then it’ll “teach” your son to speak clear and distinct.
    **Build his vocabulary by surrounding his world with words; reading aloud to him and playing audio books when he lays down for a nap. I used to play books on tape when my girls took their nap; they were hearing new words to build their vocabulary plus they had “friendly” noise in the room to keep them occupied until they fell asleep. You can even play audio books while your son play with his toys — the words are still sinking in even though it appears he isn’t listening.

  54. AnonymousMe — your daughter is doing fine, and you’re doing fine with her. I am, though, worried about YOU. I suggest reading Moxie’s 14 tips to avoid postpartum depression (downloadable from the sidebar), and seewhat you can do to help pull yourself out, and talk to your doctor about how you’re feeling. The tough thing about depression is that it takes away your motivation to do something about it. Please, please, please do whatever you can to take care of yourself. You deserve better.Jane, if you’re still reading, I think most of us really do get how tedious parenting a small child can be, and have experienced the powerful pull of the Internet — the urge to check in constantly is hard to resist when one is bored. Without having read your activity schedule, I would have suggested trying to get out more. But since that doesn’t seem to be helping, I’ll add my voice to the chorus — ask for help from friends, your partner, and professionals, and figure out what’s going on that’s fueling this. Best wishes to you as you sort through it, and I look forward to hearing how you’re doing.

  55. Just a couple more things…When my son was that age I was a member of a gym that had a fabulous child care center that would watch the children while the parents worked out. I used to take my son out to lunch, go to the gym to exercise, drop him off at the childcare center there and then pick him up after. Also, b/c the limit on the child being in the center was two hours, I’d sometimes work out for an hour and then use the other hour to read a book on the couch in the locker room and/or talk on my cellphone to an old friend, etc. This gave me a much needed break, my son had fun with the other kids, and I had a huge mood boost from the exercise. The membership was not exactly cheap, but it was WORTH EVERY PENNY!
    Also, some suggestions of activities where your two year old will have a blast and you can just hang out on the sidelines doing “whatever.”
    1) bubble baths– my 19 month old and my five year old could literally stay in a bath full of bubbles for an hour playing with toys and having a blast!
    2) water works- when my son (who’s five) was a toddler, he was incredibly attention seeking (not an independent player AT ALL– unlike my current 19 month old daughter), but he could spend at least an hour playing with cups, bowls, bubbles, etc. at the sink full of water (and dish soap). When it was cold outside and I was completely at a loss for what to do (I too am not a crafty person), I found that this saved my sanity.
    3) errands- toddlers LOVE errands. I find that I love shopping almost as much as I love the internet 🙂 so even going to the grocery store is a mood-lifting event for me.
    Anyone want to add to the list above?

  56. @hedra: I’m interested in what you wrote about the “easy baby” genotype. Apparently, I was an incredibly easy baby, and I recognized myself in some of the things you described for later life. Could you point me to literature on that?I think Jane is very courageous for writing about her internet addiction, and reading through the comments, I too was somewhat relieved to hear from others that staying home to parent a 2-year-old can be very boring. My daughter’s not quite 2, and I’m usually only home alone with her on weekends, but sometimes those weekends crawl by at an unbearably slow pace. Sometimes I think she gets bored, too, and I curse the fact that we live in an apartment with no back yard and in a city where the weather is more icky than not. What would I give for a garden or back yard for her to run around in!
    I don’t tend toward addictions, but depression is a major factor in my life, and I’ve noticed that it’s gotten worse again recently. That was something I heard in a lot of comments – that “it’s been harder again lately” sentiment. Interestingly, my psychiatrist mentioned to me that early spring is often the hardest time for people with anxiety and depression. At least, for those NOT suffering from SAD. She told me her office is pretty much overflowing from February through April. So maybe that’s a factor in a lot of our stories. I wonder if maybe it’s partly due to the feeling that as it gets nicer outside, we feel more and more as though we SHOULD be enjoying it, and the fact that we can’t enjoy it makes us feel all the worse? The same way it’s so easy for a mother to feel like she SHOULD be enjoying and treasuring these magical first years of her child(ren)’s life, and the fact that she’s not thrilled to sit on the floor and stack blocks for hours on end makes her feel guilty and like a bad mother?
    Just a lot of rambling thoughts. @Jane: you will be in my thoughts, and I hope to hear soon that you’ve made some progress in feeling better.

  57. @stephanie, in the Research articles on my blog, there are at least two links to the research on this dopamine profile. Here: http://hedra.typepad.com/hands_full_of_rocks/2008/09/research-more-o.html and http://hedra.typepad.com/hands_full_of_rocks/2008/08/research-parent.htmlHere are some related ones, as well:
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080609195604.htm (hmm, this one has maybe found the biological/evolutionary advantage of ADHD!)
    It’s not all simple (genes plus environment plus other genes plus later environment…), but the research is getting very interesting on this stuff…

  58. Hedra: I’m curious too!Jane: you are not alone! I have berated myself on many an occasion for not enjoying “playing” enough with my toddler. And I am not even a SAHM. For me part of the problem is that I worry a lot, so when we play together, inevitably, the boy will do something that looks dangerous and I panic. The other problem is that I find it boring, which fills me with guilt. I think one thing to remember is that parenting is hard.

  59. Carolyn, good point. I shouldn’t have said “should,” as I’m not a health professional (as it distinctly says in my disclaimer on the right-hand side of the site).However, the supplements I recommended are recognized as safe. It’s as if I told her she should eat carrots. Yes, some people may have a specific reaction to carrots, but it’s not likely.
    Brooke, I’m kind of surprised at your anger. You’ve been reading me for a long time, and know that PPD is one of my big issues, and my recommendation of supplements is NOT cavalier in any way. I’ve seen too many people who were just cavalierly tossed anti-depressants and then saw no improvement or worse symptoms or have been held hostage by anti-depressants for years. If there’s a way to increase a person’s underlying health *before* prescribing anti-depressants, then that is the ethical, responsible thing to do.
    Also, saying that people who are prone to alcoholism often become addicted to other substances doesn’t equate sugar addiction to alcoholism. I’m surprised and, frankly, insulted that you read that into my words after so many years of reading my posts on these topics.
    Addiction is addiction. Some is not physically dangerous, but any kind of addiction can ruin your life to differing degrees.

  60. Very late to the party – I’ve been on a self-imposed hiatus from the internet for approximately the last 2 weeks for many of the same reasons as so many others here have shared. (Basically, I’ve had this nagging sense that I was frittering away my life by spending too much time online, where I was forming no real relationships, learning very little, and just being a poor role model for my son….) So I’ve been searching for some moderation, and think I may have found a healthy balance.Jane, you have my best wishes for success. If you believe you have an addiction, then I most certainly believe you and believe in you – I hope you find recovery.

  61. Lots of luck to you–just one bit of advice. Don’t ignore the speech delay or allow your pediatrician to brush it off as a late talker. Get in touch with your state’s early intervention program and get your child evaluated. Speech therapy made a dramatic difference for us as did enrolling in a 2 morning a week preschool (if this is a possibility). Even if your child is “just a late talker” speech therapy won’t hurt and your day will be a lot less boring if your child can respond more verbally.

  62. Everything in this world was given to us by God for us to enjoy them. not them to enjoy us. All things (money, technology etc.) were given to us for us to control them, not otherwise.If well allow us to be controlled by these things, that’s where addiction and dis order came in.
    Try to redirect yourself to other things that could let your mind think and occupy it not to think of the internet. It must not interfere with our duty and responsibility as a mother.
    kahuna healing

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