Will you join me in re-connecting, making eye contact, and getting to things you have been meaning to do as a family? I’ll be doing mine Aug 7th-13th. When I talk to families in my sleep consulting practice, number one is always to promote better sleep for all by disconnecting from screens as early in the night as possible and to get outside as well.
I think that we even spend so much time on our phones that we don’t even get around to planning fun things with our families as frequently.
What we won’t be doing:
Nope to social media via the phone. Delete the Facebook app from your phone. Really. You can always download again later. You can still check in occasionally from your computer. But put a sticky note on your computer too. Mine will say “Are you working to make money or just to work? and What is important to you?” Nope to Instagram. Delete that too. Go ahead and take photos of this week’s adventures but post them next week.
If you own a biz like I do, schedule your social media posts to go out while you are away. Or don’t. your business won’t die over a week in the summer. Leave an inspiring message that you are on social media detox vacation with your kids!
Nope to Mindless Apps: For you and for your children. Delete mindless gaming apps that are not educational. Delete the educational ones too, just for this week. If we really want to learn, we can do a language program or app on the computer at a designated time.
Nope to TV time. Well, mostly. If you work from home and need a break from kids to work of if your children are driving you bonkers and you think you might snap and me mean, by all means allow some screen time- but mindfully. If you use screen time, see if you can limit it to something much smaller than usual and just use it for those emergencies.
Nope to any screens at all after 7pm . Check your voicemail once before bed and once when you wake up- but leave the rest of the phone alone. If someone really needs you, there will be a message.
What we will be doing:
Outdoor time. Even if it is hot, get outside. Bring lots of water, find shade, go slow. Make personal fans from cardboard. Bring spray bottles. Water balloons, hoses, baby pools. Turn the yard into the beach or find your local swimming pool. Garden. Even small kids can pull weeds, water and dig dig dig.
Getting neighborly together. Research beforehand a very local family-friendly social justice or environmental event your family can join up with. Or start one in your living room with neighbors. Hopefully we have deleted all of our news apps for this week- because truthfully the current political poop-show is not made better at all simply by our constant checking and gawking.
Reading. Visit your local (probably nice and cool) library. Whether your children can read or you will be reading to them, set a lofty number of books to read in a week and write them all down on a list as you go. I am not going to police the kids’ books but as a mom, I am always lamenting not having time to read books. And you know, it’s total bullshit. I just spend the time my avid reader grandfather used to spend waiting at the bank drive thru- on my phone. Choose a book and keep it in your bag. I’ll be choosing fiction because usually I am trying to learn learn learn.
Getting active. Attend actual yoga or dance classes with real live teachers. See if your children can do a trial of a martial arts class or a circus class. See if a friend will do coffee and a walk with you and the baby with the phones completely off.
Cook real meals together. Is there a way that everyone can help out and everyone can sit down to eat at the same time with phones off? Talk. Look at your food. Talk about the food with your children and where it came from. Chew slowly and make mmm noises.
Listening to music/ playing music. Got an old CD player? Get nostalgic. Introduce the kids to some of your old stuff. Get out the instruments for just a few minutes between daily activities and comings and goings. A song is even shorter than a Samantha Bee segment video!)
Play-connect. I am not the most playful mom, I’ll admit. I think I got played out so many years teaching and directing preschool. But, I do want to spend the time I might otherwise be on my iPhone connecting with my kids. Card games, wrestling, puppy pile snuggling, and making potions are all up my alley. The kids can play with the figurines on their own as this is not my bag- but if they have toys they have not touched in an entire week of minimal screens, it’s likely those toys can be gotten rid of or bagged and saved for another time. You may find this smart phone detox will help you simply in other ways as well!
Focus on Communication and Gentle Discipline: All those times you said no and then you said yes because you wanted to finish reading that social media article? Whatever parenting values you wish you could have, the attention you wish you were giving to setting good boundaries and staying consistent- those are much harder to communicate about with a phone in hand. Use this time to get aligned with respectful gentle discipline.
Letting the kids be bored. You’ve read the articles– it’s good for them! They have all the toys in the world and say they have nothing to do but say mommy mommy mommy snack snack snack. If they are old enough to say they are bored, they are old enough to make a game out of not saying they are bored as well 😉 What other words will they find for their ennui? What random games will they find instead?
Turning it off. Those phones barely get to rest these days. When all your loved ones are accounted for and near you, that’s the time to turn it off and leave it off as long as you can. Start with two hours, how do you feel? How about more? Notice how you feel. What kind of person, partner and parent are you without this device? A mini existential crisis is always good for the soul.