My family and I are addicted to technology especially my 5 year old who is bored in less than 5 seconds if we make him turn off his 3DS and play with … gasp … a toy.
Our boys get an hour of TV before going to daycare. An hour of TV when they get back from daycare. And, thankfully, they only get TV at daycare for special events tied to curriculum.
Sometimes they get a half hour (or more) of video game time or computer time. And those are on the days when I’m diligent and stick to the schedule. The weekends are a completely different situation; and not in a good way. That’s a lot of plugged in time for little dudes.
So it’s up to me to set the example and it’s hard. I didn’t realize how much I relied on my electronic interfaces.
I check Facebook and Instagram constantly. I hit refresh on my email every few minutes, hoping something new will pop up. I watch my blog stats real time, as if they’re changing so rapidly, while I watch TV. I have new blog posts in my Reader that need to be read and commented on. Then there’s Netflix and Hulu which allow me to watch entire seasons of shows back to back. There’s so much to see.
For my husband, it’s Words with Friends and a plethora of podcasts. We are always wirelessly wired.
Can you relate? Maybe you have some other social media to keep up with like Twitter or Pinterest or Google Plus or Tumblr or fill in the blank … am I right?
Well, I’ve made a commitment to go on an electronics diet this summer. Notice I put a time limit on this “goal”. I am making an effort to consume a little less TV, video games, phone time, computer time, etc.
To support my diet, I’ve purchased a hardcopy book instead of loading up new fiction to my Kindle. I actually went to the bookstore with the boys and we all picked out new books. I can’t remember the last time I purchased a physical copy of a book.
But when I tell them to unplug and get a book, I can do the same … Life in these gaps of being unplugged is interesting.
I started with 20 minutes … we didn’t know what to do. We looked at each other but not in the eyes for fear we might spontaneously combust. I bit my nails and held my breath. We all watched the timer countdown the minutes. The boys cried, “Why?” at the highest decibels. We were all relieved for the 20 minutes to be over.
I didn’t plan well. It would have gone better if I had organized an activity to fill the time for the first go round … Now I know … I have a list of options they can do independently or as a group. Some are fun and others not so much …
- Play outside
- Read a book
- Scrapbook (we have vacation pictures)
- Board games (we just started Pokemon trading card game)
- Chores (we are working on folding laundry)
- Family conversation
Activities, like these, where they can flex their creative muscles or just relax and unwind from the barrage of information and images that are always coming at us.
It’s important to note that we aren’t “making up” that “lost” 20 minutes in other parts of the day. We’re cutting back.
Slowly I am increasing the time of being turned off and tuned out. And slowly, we are adjusting to being without our gadgets. The boys know that unplugged moments are going to be part of our lives.
It’s getting easier … I’m realistic. I’ll never do away with gadgets in our home. Like I said, we’re junkies. And it’s not a bad thing but moderation is key.
The funny thing? When I pick up my iPhone or open my computer, it’s waiting for me. Patiently waiting for me. I’ve been pinged or notified that something happened. I didn’t miss it. I only delayed it.
And, being unplugged means I have interesting things to post or share, or so I think, because I took the break to live a little life.
I’ve noticed that my boys, who no longer take naps, are a little less crabby when bedtime rolls around. There is a lot more conversation about characters they’ve made up and stories they want to write or play out as live action. Less is more in terms of gadgets especially as it relates to creativity.
I’ve also noticed that as a Momma, I’m a little less stressed out. I don’t respond to their meltdowns with frustration because I’m not harried or weighted down by being connected like I’m on life support.
So tell me, how do you intentionally unplug? What would you do if you weren’t plugged in? What changes do you notice when you’ve had a break from being connected?