As people who live in a generation of texting and email, we are all guilty on some level of spending a good chunk of our existence attached to a tech device. In other words it is other responsibility as parents to take the steps to: REBOOT RESET and RECHARGE Unplug Your Family. Unfortunately these behaviors we model as parents trickle right down to the little people we live with who are looking to us for guidance and social cues and if all they are witnessing is a parent who is plugged in – well that will become their normal.
So what is a parent to do? How can a parent unplug in a way that will help them be more present with their kids but do so in way that doesn’t create major withdrawal for the said parent? I can admit it here: Being plugged in is my vice – it is an addiction and something I am working on weaning myself off of. As much as we all think we can multitask and truly listen to our family members while playing Candy Crush, the fact is the quality of interactions does suffer if we do not unplug. In other words when we REBOOT RESET and RECHARGE Unplug Your Family we are basically PLUGGING into out loved ones.
As parents we need to make eye contact and to focus on listening and understanding our loved ones. These are not skills that always come naturally but require practice and we cannot practice these skills in between texts. Unplugging forces people to confront the possibility of boredom and this means having to dig deep to keep a conversation going or to notice nature or to discover creativity. As parents we must also encourage and engage in playfulness. Playfulness can grow in times of unstructured togetherness when people are fully engaged and available to each other not when people are together but in their own worlds giving their full attention to technology, which is why unplugging is so crucial for family development.
When it comes to how to REBOOT RESET and RECHARGE Unplug Your Family – here are three simple guidelines to unplug and reconnect.
REBOOT RESET and RECHARGE: Unplug Your Family
As we all recognize, technology is no longer a luxury, it is necessary! It may not be possible to unplug for an entire day. Set a timer that every hour, or every couple hours, everyone may check their tech. Give each member 15 minutes to check social media, emails and return phone calls. An all out tech fast may bring complete resistance. We want to reconnect with each other, not simply avoid technology.
Have a Plan
Simply telling our kids that we are having a tech free day does little to get them on board! Have a plan.
Decide on a meal that requires many hands to create. Individual mini pizzas, taco bar, burger station; something that requires everyone to pitch in and create dinner together. By having a meal that everyone participates in creating, you are giving each family member something to focus ON rather than the focus on NOT using technology;
- Visit a local attraction;
- Have a game night;
- Watch a movie from the 80’s or early 90’s before personal technology exploded. It is fascinating to watch movies from the 80’s where kids answer the phone that is tethered to the wall with a cord!;
- Have fun trivia conversations during the movie discussing what life was like for teenagers 30 years ago;
- Leave the house and leave the phones at home!;
- Visit a museum;
- Visit a local historic attraction;
- Wander your downtown core or local artist community. This is an opportunity to discover your city.
3/ Don’t Ambush Your Family
No one likes to be taken by surprise or caught off guard. Give your kids warning that you are going to have a tech free day on a specific date. Have a family meeting to talk about what the plan will be and WHY you are implementing a tech free day. Have your kids suggest activities they would like to do during the tech free time. Ask them what is going to be fun about a tech free day and what will be a challenge. Engage them in the discussion and ask them to help you and keep you on track as well. Make it a family commitment and not simply parents insisting that everyone put their tech down.
Love yourself a little more.