When your kids are the one asking for a screen free day you know its pretty bad. I like to think Im not addicted to my electronic devices but mostly that because Im famous for always loosing mine around the house and no one can get a hold of me half the time. The truth is our devices steal our precious time more than we know. It wasn’t until we spent last Saturday completely unplugged that I realized just how much time was being stollen away from the things and people I love most.
It all started Friday night when I found my eleven year old crying in his room because he was so utterly overwhelmed with life and his responsibilities. I was feeling the same way too but he was definitely too young to be going through this already. After we talked for a while I could tell that my family was in major need of rebooting and reconnecting. We needed to unplug. The constant stream of our loved ones drama, events to go to, text to reply to, projects to make, sells to buy, funny videos to watch, and blog posts to write, was all taking its toll. So we decided to go on a vacation… an unplugged vacation from our electronic devices.
Our unplugged vacation did not get off to a good start. Just like anyone trying to cut off an addiction cold turkey we were already feeling the itch by 9 a.m. I have never been snapped at so many times before I even had my breakfast. We needed to get out of the house and away from our temptations. At least for the first part of the day as we acclimated a bit. So off we went to do a few errands. We stopped by the library and returned some books. Then I read to my toddler while the baby slept in her carrier and the boys were distracted by trying to select their next adventure to check out. This tech vacation was starting to look up. But the thing is, this world is not conducive to people trying to unplug their lives. Everywhere you turn electronics are trying to suck you back in. Later when we went to a craft supply store to get items for my sons costume I had to pay twice as much for our purchase because the 50% off coupon was only available through the stores app. Then after lunch we did a little clothes shopping and I needed to transfer funds from my saving to my checking to pay for it. We ended up having to put a bunch of stuff back because I didn’t have my phone with me to easily transfer the funds. We also kept loosing track of the time because no one wears watches anymore, so I couldn’t call to tell my husband we were going to be an hour later getting home. By the time we got home we were more stressed out than before. I kept asking myself if this was really worth it and how in the heck did we ever live without cell phones. I know we did once back when we were first married but still… So I did what any other mom/wife would do in my circumstance, I cried to my husband and whined about how all I wanted to do was make our lives better, but Im totally sucking at it. He graciously came to my rescue and helped the rest of the evening go so much smoother. It was so nice to have someone on my side and helping me come up with fun ideas to fill the rest of the afternoon and evening with. By eight o’clock that night I couldn’t believe all the things we had accomplished in one afternoon/evening. There was this beautiful moment where I found myself surrounded by my family listening to my husband read to us while we did our various projects and puzzles, the house was clean, and the kids were begging for one more chapter. It was something out of a Charles Dickinson novel.
When we put the boys to bed that night, there were no more grumpy faces or little boys crying because they were too stressed out. In fact they begged for us to do another unplugged vacation. The same boys who always complain about how much more screen time their friends get. They loved having their parents “tech destracted free” so bad they were more than willing to part with one of their favorite things. For me, I saw that there was more listening going on, more looking in each other faces, and a lot more time on our hands. All those little notices and alerts dinging from your devices take up a lot more time than we think it does. We think it will just take us a second, but all those seconds add up. I started screen free day for my kids and it ended up that I needed it more.
Latter Day Saints or Mormons such as myself fast one day a month for many reasons and one of those reason are to help gain more self control and power over our vises. While having these cell phones are a great blessing in many ways we need to make sure we maintain control over it and that it doesn’t have control over us. My family and I are now committed to taking one evening off a week to unplug, reboot and reconnect. We are calling it No Screen Time Vacation instead of Tech Time-out because I want to give it a positive spin, and keep it fun. From five o’clock on that night we put all of our devices in a big box in the living room and close it. We take a break from the outside world and spend a few hours focusing on our inside world. All that chatter will still be there when we are done but we will be held together by stronger fresher glue to better face it all with.
TIPS FOR HAVING YOUR OWN SCREEN TIME:
1. Put up a sign with a box to put all the electronic in it. So you are not the one getting the brunt of anyones negative comments. Then put the box in the middle of the living room so everyone can see it and have the support of everyone in your family to resist those temptations.
2. Make it fun. Have a to do list of stuff you and your family need to get done or have always been wanting to do and do them. Keeping busy will help everyone forget their devices.
3. Get out of the house and away from your temptations. If your family is having a really hard time unplugging try going to a park, going on a bike ride or just for a walk in a different part of town you have never been to.