24 Hours Unplugged & I Lived to Blog About It
By Kelly Steele on September 13, 2012
Have you ever pitched a tent and camped out in your backyard? It’s not exactly the same as sleeping in a tent in the middle of the woods. When I considered doing a day unplugged with my family, I didn’t want to just “campout in the backyard.” If we were going to do it, we were going to really do it, except that by “really do it” I mean more 90’s style than fully Amish.
Here were the rules:
1. No TV.
2. No cell phones.
3. Nothing that had the Internet.
4. Home phone was allowed (although, no one we know has the number, and we don’t have long distance or know anyone’s phone number by heart to call…)
5. Baby monitors were fair game.
6. Standard radios would have been allowed but we couldn’t remember how to work ours.
We decided on the rules the night before, and began at 8:30am the following morning. First thing that morning, my 2 year old woke us up. Out of habit I said, “let’s watch TV in mommy and daddy’s bed,” so I could keep snoozing. My husband quickly reminded me that I had decided that we would be screen free all day. My toddler, therefore, could not watch TV in our bed, and I had to get up…
I made my way downstairs where my son asked to watch TV. When I said, “no,” he asked if he could watch the iPad to which I also had to say, “no.” So, he followed with, “can I play with your phone?” And… then we were back to the asking about the TV again. This went on for about 2 hours (literally) as my husband and I repeatedly explained that the TV, iPad, and cell phone all “weren’t working” that day. My son, in turn, tried to charge the devices to make them “work.”
It was clear we needed to hide the devices from his view.
Once the temptations were out of sight, it was much easier for them to be “out of mind” for all of us. Most of the day, we just played together as a family. It was really nice, but it made me realize how dependent I am on devices.
There were many things that I had to rethink how to do the “old fashioned” way like:
1. Create memories - I had to take a mental image when I wanted to capture a cute moment with the kids, but my iPhone was not available able to take a pic or video. Now, I just have to find a way to “Instagram” my memories.
2. Make a grocery list – I had to actually locate a pen and paper to make a shopping list. Tough life.
3. Do without - I forgot to put something on the shopping list, and I couldn’t text or call my husband, who was at the store, to ask him to pick it up.
4. Find an actual flashlight – I was looking for my iPhone to use the flashlight app at one point…. wow.
5. "Read" the weather - I actually had to get up and step outside to gauge the temperature rather than check an app or the weather channel. On a side note - my husband is seriously addicted to studying the radar, so this was tough for him. Oh my! A storm could strike at any moment, and we might not know unless we get up to look at the clouds [sigh]…
6. Cook from a cookbook (who knew?) – no allrecipes.com or apps for me, just good ole Betty Crocker.
7. Remember my own schedule – I normally keep my whole calendar on my phone and back it up to my gmail, so nothing is written. That day, I almost forgot about a baby shower I had that day because I didn’t get the electronic reminder alert!
Doing these things the “old fashioned” way felt good thought. It took a little thought at first, but in the end, while I was unplugged, it felt less like the world was spinning faster than I could keep up, and my thoughts were much clearer.
There were other interesting realizations from the day as well, such as:
1. My husband and I can just sit around and talk to each other. That night, we sat on the couch and talked for like 3 hours. Ok… maybe only 2 of them were spent actually talking and the rest was, well, shades of grey if you will…
2. My husband actually can go to the bathroom in less than 45 minutes.
3. My toddler is already way too addicted to screen time – he had device withdrawal and woke in the middle of the night crying for the iPad. He actually cried for about five full minutes… unbelievable.
Although there were many thought provoking insights from the day, my child crying out in the night for the iPad like he was having a nightmare provided the most clear message –we all needed a break from modern technology. It also made me think that we’ll do it again, soon.
Next time we unplug, I think we will go more “camping in the backyard” style rather than cold turkey in the middle of the woods with no survival skills. My day “unplugged” made me realize that modern technology does bring us many conveniences in which there’s no reason to do without. For example, being able to text my husband when I forgot to add something to the grocery list or checking the weather would have been nice.
After “unplugging,” I am more aware of the places where gadgets are helpful and when they are taking away from my life. Going unplugged for a day was a great learning experience that I think everyone should try at least once even if you end up just camping out in your backyard…
More by me @ www.inthemomlight.com