tree

Six weeks of summer sweetness

avatar
About Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

I‘ve taken Fake Breaks from the Internet every summer since 2010. It’s become an annual thing for me—four to six weeks of letting other people exclusively post here on the blog, letting my email inbox grow dangerously full, and just popping on to social media when I feel like it.

But in the past three summers, during those breaks, we were either having a baby, moving to a different state, or moving to a new fixer-upper home. And so while I took time away online, my offline world was full of sleep deprivation, change, eternal checklists, and major emotional transition for all five of us. Not exactly vacation-worthy stuff.

This summer has been magically different. For the first time since I birthed this blog, my annual online break has truly been a BREAK. And I feel a million times lighter because of it.

There’s something sweetly soul-tempering about not knowing what happened on Facebook ALL WEEK LONG, or realizing you can’t remember the last time you scrolled through Pinterest, just for fun. And it’s also a delightful surprise to be reminded that the world does, indeed, go on without you—no one’s dying a slow death because you’re not online.

raspberries

Now, I call these Fake Breaks because for me, they’re not truly a complete disconnect. (Though I love this recent cover article from Fast Company about an Internet-addicted guy who completely left the Internet for a month.) I still get online to check email a few times per week, I post on my personal Facebook account when I feel like it, I tweet just for fun, and I Instagram when a photo deems Instagram-worthy (on my own subjective terms there).

For me, the Internet isn’t an addiction. It’s work. I honestly don’t struggle (right now, anyway) with the temptation to find my identity online, or to dull my senses with an online escape. I get the temptation, though. My need for an annual break comes from craving more time in the 3-D world; a rumble in my belly to travel around or laze on the couch with my kids without wondering if a post has gone live and whether I should tweet it.

It’s my time to tell the Internet, “You can wait just a bit. You’re not the boss of me. I love you and marvel at your wonders and am thankful that you have provided me a place to work and provide for my family, but I don’t revolve my life around you. You serve me, and you do so well. I just need you to remember that.”

And then I go off to the pool with my kids.

It affects my blogging—for the better

And though I don’t force it, my Fake Breaks always, always help recenter the cross-hairs on my blogging scope. I re-enter my work with new ideas, a fresh perspective, and an eagerness to get back at it. I remember why I love blogging so much, and I come back after six weeks or so, excited to unpack my brain and put some flesh on a few of those ideas.

I started this blog on a whim when we lived overseas, and five plus years later, it’s our family’s main livelihood. My passion has turned in to my work, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. But by every May, somehow, I’ve forgotten that, and when my work feels like drudgery instead, it’s a signal in my life to stop and breathe.

canoeing02

And in those six summer weeks, I reclaim my passion, left in the coat closet while I was at dinner with social media and book marketing meetings. I dust it off and put it back on my writing desk.

There will be a few changes around here, but most of them will be more for me and my clarity—you might not even notice them. But here are a few changes you may notice:

1. The blog’s Facebook page.

Prerna Malik (and possibly one or two more people) will be officially overseeing the blog’s Facebook page from now on, though I’ll still post there a few times a week. Simple Mom really has evolved in to a community site, so it only makes sense that the Facebook page is community as well.

I found that remembering to regularly post there was a hindrance to my creativity, not a help, and Prerna loves doing it (and is FANTASTIC at it!), so I’ve decided to practice the powerful art of delegation in this department. Prerna’s help was key this summer in helping me truly enjoy my break for the first time.

2. My own Facebook account.

I’m officially “allowing” followers on my personal Facebook account, so that you can read more of my personal thoughts, goings-on, and the like (click on “Follow”—it’s that button in my header next to “Add Friend”). I enjoy the personal side of Facebook much, much more than the professional, blog page side, and since I realize that nothing on the Internet is truly private, I’m happy to let readers follow me there as well.

I was going to start an author’s page, but then I realized I would say the exact same thing there than I would on my personal account, and thus give me more work to do. Plus, I have a number of social media expert ninja-type friends, and they all said this was the route to go instead of creating a page with my name. So, this is what I’m doing (for now, anyway).

3. I’ve changed my Twitter name.

I switched my Twitter account from @SimpleMom to @Tsh. I’ve sat on that golden Twitter handle for several years now, not sure the best “strategy” for using tweeting monikers. But this summer, after talking to Claire and Alli, I decided to just go for it already.

If you were already following me on @SimpleMom, there’s nothing for you to do. But there’s something a bit freeing about being myself on Twitter now, and not just my blog’s “brand” name. Sigh… I’m so over being a brand. I just want to be myself, and as someone who owns a brand. (I know, I know; we’re all our own brands online, but you know what I mean.)

4. I’ll be at my personal blog, too.

What—more work for you? Not really. I’ve dusted off tshoxenreider.com to write when I feel  like it. Different than Simple Mom here, which is a community site dedicated to one topic—the art and science of living simpler. Feel free to subscribe over there, if you want, but read the first post about how often I’ll probably post (hint: not much).

canoeing

I’m going to ease back in to regular work on the Internet this month, but mentally, I’m still going to focus most of my energy offline. As much as I love this blog, it only has the power to determine how much sleep I get, what I think about, or how I feel if I let it. My break was a sobering—and ecstatic!—reminder that the world is beautiful, colorful, full of life…and three-dimensional.

How are you going to enjoy the offline world today?

Join the Conversation

Subscribe For Free!

Like reading this post?
Get more delivered to your email inbox.

Comments

  1. I’ll be walking the aisles of Goodwill in search of the perfect back to school wardrobe for my teenager :-)
    Esther´s latest post: School Supply Extravaganza Week 4!

  2. Wow, you are my new hero! I am a dad of a 3 year old girl, I run my own business, and I am just entering the blogging world ( like today). I have been getting lost in reading your posts, in a good way. I am really impressed with your writing and overall apperence of your stuff. My regular business takes up most of my time, and I am starting to realize that successful blogging DOES take a lot of time. I do however put my family first, I am home at 4pm everyday, and in the past 3-1/2 years I have almost never missed putting my daughter to bed. Anyway, I’m glad I found you!
    Wadinga´s latest post: About WADiNGA First official post

  3. Oh, I also meant to say… 6 weeks #%*€ I’m lucky if I get 1 week, twice a year.
    Wadinga´s latest post: About WADiNGA First official post

  4. Funny timing with this post! Just last weekend, I took a break from all social media, to see how it would feel. It was good- better than I expected it to be. I think I might do it more often!

  5. These changes are so good! I love how you are able to change what needs changed…with the transition from brand to Tsh. I like the lesson that just because you created your twitter handle like that doesn’t mean it’s permanent. Life changes, things change, blogs change, and so can your twitter name. I will be a fan of your personal blog. I love reading all your writing!
    Archer´s latest post: Securing Your WordPress Installation

  6. The internet can be such a temptation to us bloggers! I’ve only been blogging for 6 months now and I love being able to express myself in this way but at times definitely feel the pressure to create posts faster and get my blog ‘out there’ a bit more. This post has reminded me that I need to take the pressure off and just enjoy my blog for what it is, rather than focusing on developing it. So today I am going to enjoy playtime with my 3 month old baby!
    Jessica´s latest post: Out of the Fatherland

    • Agreed—enjoy it for what it is, because it IS fun. And developing it is a good thing, too, if it’s a craft you love. But it can’t be everything, right?

  7. Love that you were able to really disconnect and relax. That’s quite the trick for any Momma on holiday, not to mention one who has her finger in as many pies as you do! (What does that mean, anyway? I mean, who goes around sticking fingers in pies!?)

    Glad you’re making choices to put yourself online genuinely. I’d rather hear from someone speaking genuinely, than the best-marketed, slickest persona. Keep up the great work!
    Anna´s latest post: Walk the Red Carpet at the WinSome Launch Party!

    • That’s one of the things that pushes me to take the much-needed break—I mean, if I write about simple living and taking care of yourself, shouldn’t I do that, too?

      Thanks for your words!

  8. A real TRUE break? No moves, no babies, no major life changes? Oh, lovely my friend! I’m so happy for you – well deserved! (and a long time coming, I might add)

    But, I’ve gotta say, I’m so happy you’re back! I love reading what you write and your perspective and gentle reminders are one of those things that help me to keep things on track in my own life.

    Love you, friend!
    Kara @SimpleKids.net´s latest post: Summer Bucket List: The Pink Elephant (Small Town Living)

  9. I feel like jumping up and down for you.

  10. Whoops! That sent too quickly. :) First off, congrats on a real break! I had 2 weeks of disconnect too. I didn’t even encourage Danny to talk about the blog or book. It was incredibly refreshing.

    All these changes? So super smart. I admire you so much because you always seem to know which direction to take and what you need to do to better your work life.

    Let’s catch up soon.
    Aimee´s latest post: Our Nova Scotia summer road trip: beaches, trails, lighthouses and good eats

    • Thanks, Aimee! And I’m glad you guys got a little break, too. It’s so nice not to talk biz all the time, right?

  11. A true break! Congrats on that, Tsh – so very well deserved. It seems like you’ve done for yourself this year what you’ve encouraged all of us to do for so long! It’s awesome isn’t it? In norther latitudes summers something to savor. It’s like a dessert at a fine restaurant – the portion is small, but amazing.

    I’ve done some similar thinking about my blog – which really affects no one but me and my family – but really – who’s more important? When I thought about what I need in my life – connection, exercise, relaxation – “more time sitting at the computer” was nowhere on the list.

    I’m moving to fewer but more crafted posts. And only about stuff that I feel truly am inspired to write about. Our blog is in essence just a hobby (maybe a side business – if you’re generous with that definition.)
    Robin from Frugal Family Times´s latest post: Minecraft Birthday Party: Printables, Crafts and Games!

    • “In norther latitudes summers something to savor. It’s like a dessert at a fine restaurant – the portion is small, but amazing.”

      Okay, I love this description. That’s so perfect.

  12. I’ve taken off-line breaks (blog, Facebook, and Twitter) for the month of July the past few years. It has been incredibly liberating. Add vacation time during the same month, and I’ve got a few weeks where I let myself check my email once a day — a few minutes of skimming and I’m done.

    This year especially has been a gift. I feel like I had permission to leave the hyper-speed-all-information-all-the-time children’s book world. I could simply be.

    Now I’m refreshed and ready to start again — with a more intentional approach to the mindless stuff I find it so easy to get caught up in.
    Caroline Starr Rose´s latest post: Why We Read

  13. Beautiful photos (as always) and sounds like a wonderful break. I’m curious how you deal with (or are you blessed to not feel this??) the stress that if you go away for that long your business may be negatively impacted? If something is a hobby, there’s less stress because if people don’t want to follow you anymore…well, it doesn’t really matter. But once it is your family’s main source of income, how do you mentally relax? Blogging isn’t my job so this may not be a great analogy. With my job, anything over a week to 10 days and I start worrying about becoming irrelevant (or in less dramatic terms, less relevant).

    Would love your thoughts.

    • Well, over the years I’ve learned a thing or two, so I admit it was scary at first to take a break, but I’ve since learned that things will keep running even if I’m not on every day. A few things:

      1. There’s a reason I take my breaks in the summer—because traffic is lighter for our blog anyway. Our readers are mostly parents, and they don’t spend as much time on the Internet because they’re busy doing summer things. So? Instead of fighting that, I figured why not go with the flow and join them?

      2. I still check on things regularly—a Fake Break, remember? It is a business, so I do have to be on a bit. Just not as much.

      3. We’re also continually reminding ourselves of the definition of enough—because you never can finish the Internet, you know? There’s always one more thing to do, you can grow your blog just a little bit more, there’s one more new thing to try. And at some point, you just have to decide you’ve done ENOUGH, and find contentment there. Both in your productivity, and in your income. We could make more money by doing more, sure. But then we’re not living the life we want, because our goal is to live well, not make tons of money. You know?

      And that’s why I can walk away from the blog (while it’s still running) and be okay with it. Because I’m sure I could get more traffic during the summer if I stayed around. But that’s not the most important thing to me. Living well with the people I love is. It’s the very stuff I write about, so I’m crazy passionate about it, and it only makes sense that I personally live that way, too. Otherwise I’m just writing theory.

      Hope this helps! :)

      • Excellent points and clearly something I need to work on. Thank you for taking the time to write a thoughtful response.

  14. I feel certain by next summer I’m gonna need a Fake Break as well. It will feel good to live in the moment again instead of the obsession that is building a site/brand. Thanks for the food for thought.
    Mrs. Tucker (Patti)´s latest post: Shift Your Perspective; Shift Your Life

  15. I appreciated this post a lot. And hopped over to your personal blog and loved the words there. I like the straightforwardness of your writing, not having it all together but knowing a good direction to go in.

    And, such a good reminder that the internet is not boss. As a new-ish blogger, it’s easy to feel so behind and if I don’t tweet/blog/comment/link up with everything, my blog will just die. Everything in moderation.
    Breanne´s latest post: The Benefits of Taking a (super) Mini-Vacation

  16. You were looking for music recommendations on your FB page yesterday, but since I’m a follower but not really a “friend” (oh, Facebook, these subtle distinctions…) I couldn’t leave a comment. I wanted to recommend a sweet-voiced singer I just found: Sara Sample: http://www.sarahsample.com/
    dona bumgarner´s latest post: Mama, You Are So Brave

    • Oh, that’s weird! I didn’t realize you couldn’t comment. Hmm. Sorry about that. Either way, thanks for this!

  17. Great post and brave changes! Every year I unplug completely for screen free week. It’s amazing how it recharges me (and my children, too!)
    Franziska´s latest post: Awesome Avocado Cookies

  18. Love that shot of Tate on the river! That’s a gorgeous stretch and I’m so glad you had a real break. Smart girl!

  19. My husband who is a journalist is always complaining how everything has become so technology based these days. It really is nice that you were able to get out into the “real” world for a while

Speak Your Mind

*

CommentLuv badge

anti age the best anti aging cream phytoceramides supplements skin glowing vitamins best vitamin supplements for hair skin and nails