A few years ago I met an individual who challenged my thinking of how and when I use technology. He was the father of 11 children, at that time ranging in ages 5 to 19. He made me think of one of my all-time favorite films Yours, Mine and Ours, starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda. It’s a fun movie about two widows falling in love and creating a family of 18 children. You can just imagine the chaos and the need for organization!
This gentleman shared with me two key strategies related to technology that helped keep their home running smoothly:
In their seldom-used living room, they created what they called The Charging Station. Every person’s electronic device had to be plugged in by 8 p.m. each evening. This included cell phones, Kindles, iPads, iPods, laptops, etc. He admitted that what prompted this was the fact that his teenagers wouldn’t return his calls and claimed that “their battery was dead.”
There were several payoffs for everyone. The kids slept better because they weren’t texting friends long after bedtime. And without their cell phones close by, mom and dad experienced some quality time with one another as well.
Unplugging once a month
This family of 13 completely unplugs from all electronics, including television, one week each month. The exception being homework assignments requiring a computer. When I asked what sort of things they filled their time with during that week each month, he rattled off several things including: Reading a book aloud as a family, taking dancing lessons, going on nature walks, playing baseball, touring a local museum, having a board game tournament, learning conversational Spanish, and the list went on.
When I asked about how difficult it was to unplug for an entire week, he recounted how upset the teenagers were when this concept was first introduced but how the entire family now plans in advance and looks forward to the next “week off.”
In a day and age when research is showing that our society has become addicted to their smartphones and email Inboxes, I found this gentleman’s approach refreshing. He and his wife definitely have a way of putting the presence of technology in their home in the right perspective.
If the idea of unplugging for an entire week makes you hyperventilate, what about unplugging for a few hours each day or perhaps a day each week? If the idea of unplugging sounds enticing, perhaps coming up with a “Technology Free Bucket List” would be a great place to start. What sort of things would fill your time if it weren’t for technology? What book, hobby or activity have you wanted to find time for but just haven’t been able to?