While the National Day of Unplugging runs from sundown on March 3rd to sundown on March 4th, we think a dedicated unplugging as a family should happen more than just once a year. Here are five things you can do right now to disconnect from technology and connect with the ones you love.
Start on a fun note.
Once a week (or as often as needed), have everyone come to the kitchen with their devices and stand in a circle. Instruct everyone to hand their device to the person on their left. Give everyone 5 minutes to hide the device and then come back together to complete any one of the following activities. After the activity is done, the hunt can begin. To make it fair, change the wifi password until all devices have been found.
Revive family game night.
Maybe it’s a quick game of cards or an elaborate game of bingo. Maybe you make completing a crossword a group effort. Maybe you all gather around a puzzle and commit to locking in a minimum number of pieces. It doesn’t matter what game or activity you play, when you sit down as a family for a good ol’ fashioned night of bonding, everyone wins (even if they won’t concede the point until years later).
Get out of the house.
One sure way to distance yourself from technology is to create literal distance between you and your technology. Leave phones and tablets to charge at home while you pile in a car and treat yourself to a nice meal, ice cream, a walk in a park, or a family volunteering opportunity. If you feel uncomfortable traveling without a phone, bring yours along, but remind your family to hold you accountable, too; I had one friend who promised to buy ice cream for anyone who caught her using her phone during a tech free outing.
When you are trying to de-tech your family for a set amount of time, you may have to fight dirty. You can’t (or shouldn’t) use your devices when your hands are underwater or covered in flour or deep in mud, so get your crew together for a dip in the pool, a family baking party, or a gardening work day/mud fight.
If creating dedicated tech-free times is too difficult, try creating tech-free areas in your home. The dining room, for instance, is one sacred place where no devices should be allowed; not only does it distract from the conversations taking place, but food and beverages around devices are a recipe for disaster. Keep mealtimes mindful and inclusive with a firm no-tech policy at the table (and this goes for you, too, mom and dad).
You can also use technology to your advantage on a daily basis, offering the wifi password or a charging cable as the carrot for completing homework, a list of chores, or good behavior.
How do you balance family time with tech time in your home?