(Image credit: www.saritarelis.com)

I just couldn't take it anymore. The elections. The advertising. The photos of perfect couples going on perfect dates eating perfect food. The scrolling—the endless scrolling—that seemed to be filling up my free time. So at the start of this year, I took a month off social media. And I changed. And, of all things, my home changed, too. Here's how...

The first, immediate effect? The house was cleaner. Just tidier all round. And with two small kids at home, a tidy house is no mean feat. I didn't feel like I was doing that much more cleaning, maybe only 10 extra minutes of cleaning per day. But it made such a huge difference.

I wonder now if the cleaner house came in part as a result of looking at a screen less. At the end of the day, I wasn't inhabiting an online world of "he-said she-said" but was inhabiting my actual space. As a result, I noticed things more: the kids' jackets they'd thrown off at the front door, the fingerprints on the wall by the kitchen table.

Which brings me to my second point: I started digging into those organizational projects I'd been putting off for a long time. Inhabiting and enjoying my physical space (instead of an online one), I found myself wanting to treat my space with respect and care. I wanted to improve it. I cleaned out my wardrobe. I cleaned out my kids' wardrobes. I took bags and bags of unused items to our local thrift store.

And while bags of stuff left the house, something else came in: people. This was the most rewarding and possibly most surprising effect of taking time off social media: the amount of time we spent being hospitable to others went way up. Call me crazy, but I never realized before how much social media scratches my time-with-people itch. Before this month off, whenever I had good news, I would put it on Facebook. Whenever I was wearing an awesome skirt, I'd upload a photo. I'm actually a pretty social person. And without access to social media, I realized how much I needed more real contact with human bodies to share my joy.

It's hard to describe how much richer life feels when sitting around a table with great friends, eating your husband's latest Jamie Oliver-inspired creation, and talking about something you read—not online, but in an actual book! For a month, my home felt tidy and organized and warm and full of people. Now can you blame me for not wanting to go back?